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So blood test show iron deficiency, how do you keep your iron up

(30 Posts)
KingIrving Mon 29-May-17 22:17:47

I had a phone call from my GP yesterday and she said my iron was too low at 25 and that the minimum should be 30.
I already take spirulina and a vitamin supplement every third day. I thought I was eating plenty of greens such as kale and spinach, and beans, nuts, so if despite all that my iron is low, what should I do.

I was a bit surprised she didn't recommend/prescribe me something, so I will hit the shops later today (am in Australia, freezing morning today) . What do you take if you take something or what do you eat. I haven't been a vegan long, so everything is pretty new to me.
Thanks

Avocado0nToast Mon 29-May-17 22:23:06

When I had low iron after losing a lot of blood post birth I drank Spatone daily https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nelsons-Spatone-Natural-Supplement-42-Sachets/dp/B00EYDK2F2

I found iron tablets did not agree with me but this mixed with orange juice got my levels back up quickly with no side effects. I also made sure I ate an iron rich diet.

Namebot Mon 29-May-17 22:24:31

I'm not a vegan but have been veggie for years and have had to give up dairy to breastfeed my baby who has cows milk protein allergy. I have a tendency to have low iron so I supplement - either spatone or floradix while eating iron rich foods and foods high in vitamin c. Lentils are a decent source of iron and dried fruit also has iron - in addition to leafy greens etc.

NotTheDuchessOfCambridge Mon 29-May-17 22:27:16

I was just going to give some advice on how dairy affects your iron intake and how iron tablets shouldn't be taken with tea or coffee containing milk! pokes myself on head chanting stupid You're a vegan so that shouldn't be a problem grin

KindleBueno Mon 29-May-17 22:28:01

I'm not a vegan but here in Ireland you'll often hear GPs advising Guinness. I'm pretty sure they recently went vegan.

picklemepopcorn Mon 29-May-17 22:29:49

Vitamin C is key. Oh and avoiding tea which inhibits iron uptake, too. Apricots are good I think, and broccoli because of both iron and Vit C. But not with a nice cup of tea...

seoulsurvivor Mon 29-May-17 22:29:59

Mixing different types of iron rich foods can help absorption. So beans with green vegetables etc. I also read that vitamin c helps absorption so drinking orange juice along with iron rich foods also helps.

redcaryellowcar Mon 29-May-17 22:31:33

I think caffeine inhibits iron absorption, so I believe it's suggested that you take iron supplements with something like orange juice, not tea or coffee?

KingIrving Mon 29-May-17 22:55:24

Hum, I usually take my spirulina at breakfast with huge amount of coffee and I always have a coffee after meals, so this might explain the poor absorption.

I had never heard of spatone, so I will certainly give it a go. Years ago, well decades ago, I was given tablets for iron deficiency and I still remember the horrible cramps and pains, so really happier to go for a less violent option.
Is spatone something you buy in a pharmacy or in a health shop?

SplitInfinitive Tue 30-May-17 06:36:17

King - the secret to increasing your iron absorption is leaving a nice long gap between taking your iron and having your coffee. I love coffee too and realised that I wasn't absorbing my iron tablets properly because I was drinking coffee too soon after. Leave at least an hour before havung a coffee. That should help smile

Btw you can get SpaTone here in the UK from supermarkets as well as pharmacies and healthstores. It's iron rich water in sachets.

However, if your iron levels are really low, it will take too long for them to make a difference. Mine was really low after the DC were born and I had to have tablets from the GP, and she found me some that didn't upset my stomach.

Coldhandscoldheart Tue 30-May-17 06:47:45

I found spatone disgusting, but take floradix in orange juice (pregnanacy anaemia). It worked well I felt better very quickly.
They do something called floravital which is vegan.
floradix.com.au/Floradix/Floradix-Floravital-Iron-and-Herbs-250ml/5.html
And that's their Australian site smile

Avocado0nToast Tue 30-May-17 07:07:20

Great advice here about the caffeine, and I think the taking iron with orange juice worked really well with me. But eurgh yes the stomach cramps with the tablets - I had to stop taking them.

I would disagree that spatone may not get your levels up quickly (I don't work for them by the way grin) - I was severely anaemic after a haemorrhage and told I could expect to be that way for 3-6 months. At my 6 week check my iron levels had recovered. But everyone is different so you might need to try a few things to find what works for you. Hope you feel better soon.

HeyCat Tue 30-May-17 07:29:00

You can also try the lucky fish - it's an iron fish and you put it in your cooking so it just adds extra iron into whatever you're making.

Always take iron with vitamin C to aid absorption.

And did your blood test check your vitamin B12 levels? If not, maybe ask for another one to check those. Vegetarians and vegans often struggle to get enough B12 and you can't process iron properly without B12 so that can lead to B12 deficiency anaemia.

B12 is in Brewers yeast tablets, or you can get a spray. However if your levels are really low you'd need injections to boost them back up.

KingIrving Tue 30-May-17 07:39:55

So I found the Spatone at my local pharmacy and had my first sachet. The taste is very metallic but so more doable than the first spirulina I bought in powder.
After all your comments, I had a good read about coffee and iron absorption so I am staying cleat of the coffee after the supplements.
The pharmacist recommended starting with one sachet per day and then increase if no ill effect.

My B12 and folates are good. I asked my GP to do a full blood check as I wanted to be sure I wasn't becoming malnourished after switching drastically from one day to another to a vegan diet.

I have a tumour prone genetic condition and I have done the switch to slow down and shrink the skin tumours and to hopefully avoid getting malignant ones.

It is incredible how quickly you lose your iron reserves. In two months I became deficient despite eating tons of spinach. I realise the coffee might have had a role, but yet, I was surprised.

I guess being a healthy vegan is a learning curve .
Thanks to all of you

gigi556 Tue 30-May-17 08:12:12

Ok, I'm no expert and I'm also a meat eater (although don't think I eat tons of red meat).

I'm pregnant so having lots of tests and my most recent iron reading was well above what they were looking for.

I would recommend a cast iron skillet. Sounds crazy but your food will absorb the iron from the skillet and so will you! My sister gave me one at Christmas (she had low iron and felt it helped her when her levels were low). I think you can also get small cast iron "fish" (i.e. a piece of cast iron shaped like a fish) that you can put in soups, casseroles etc while you are cooking that will help infuse iron.

Hope this helps!

PinkDaffodil2 Tue 30-May-17 08:15:49

If you do decide to try iron tablets again, you probably had ferrous sulphate which doesn't agree with a lot of people. You might find that preparations with ferrous fumerate are kinder on your digestive system.

Ktown Tue 30-May-17 08:16:41

Juice and steak and iron tablets
I see you are a vegan so the vit c plus iron tabs are important
Chick peas contain some iron too
You also need to reduce your calcium intake a little

Hulder Tue 30-May-17 08:23:00

Spinach isn't actually that high in iron. Big myth perpetuated by Popeye grin

Plus 'tonnes of spinach' will work out as very very little iron - you just don't eat that much spinach as it shrinks down to nothing. The iron contained in spinach is in a form that's hard to absorb plus spinach contains oxalates - chemicals which inhibit iron absorption.

You just can't do it from green leafy veg alone. You need lentils, chickpeas, beans, cashew nuts, seeds, apricots and so on.

KingIrving Tue 30-May-17 08:38:36

I thought I was eating right with a lot of cashews and almonds for both the calories, the calcium, the iron and having chickpeas in salad, but at the end of the days, there is this limit of how much food I can ingest.

I have upped my spirulina - in gelules , oh that stuff in powder is vile! -, bought the spatone water and this should keep me safe.

SplitInfinitive Tue 30-May-17 13:14:41

One more thing you could try is Blackstrap Molasses. A big spoonful of that daily will boost your iron intake too.

I have a recipe from Rose Elliott's low GI book for iron rich breakfast. Mix 25g each of sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds, 50g of pistachios, pumpkin seeds and rolled oats, stir in 1tbsp Blackstrap molasses and cover with orange juuce. Leave overnight. Apparently that gives you 25mg of iron. That nakes 2 portions. Worth a try.

SplitInfinitive Tue 30-May-17 13:16:36

Sorry about typos - on phone and keyboard v small smile

terrylene Tue 30-May-17 13:26:55

I would keep clear of the spinach. Years ago, I did a degree in ecology. Spinach was among plants that hold onto metals by a chemical process of chelation. This means they contain a lot of iron but will not let it go. Popeye is a myth. Our lecturer said spinach probably held on to all the iron in your gut that you are eating too, so may actually be working against you.
Advice here is good re coffee, vit c, lentils etc. Hope the spatone does its thing for you.

Squishedstrawberry4 Tue 30-May-17 13:29:25

I take ferrous sulphate twice a day with vitamin c or an orange and avoid eggs, grains, hot drinks an hour before/after.

whatpardonwhat Tue 30-May-17 13:36:01

Spatone is amazing and dried apricots are also meant to be good. As PP has said, spinach not that great for iron.
Drink fresh orange when eating iron-rich foods as it helps with absorption. smile

SplitInfinitive Tue 30-May-17 14:10:27

Ferrous Sulphate is the one that gave me cramps and tmi green poo blush. Ferrous Fumarate was gentler on the stomach iirc.

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