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Stop Wasting Your Money on Inferior Iron

Gut gurgling? Constipated? Taking an iron supplement from your local chemist?
Ferrous sulfate (found in popular pharmacy brands Ferrograd and Fefol) is a show stopper when it comes to your gastrointestinal tract!
This form of iron is poorly absorbed and you often need sensationally large doses to replenish your depleted iron stores.
Emed holds iron supplements that are up to 400% better absorbed than ferrous sulfate.
Without worrying whether you’re going to clog up your digestive system, it’s time to give your body what it needs.
Iron Deficiency – What’s the Problem?
Iron deficiency is the most prevalent worldwide nutritional deficiency, being almost universal in some countries.
Low iron intake is also common in Australia; a recent study found that, in Australia, up to 8% of women are consuming so little iron that it is affecting their health and wellbeing.
Estimates also suggest that 40% of females 12-50 years old receive less than the RDA, and 45% of infants 1-5 years old receive less than the RDA.
Reasons for inadequate iron (or increased requirements) include not getting enough from your diet, pregnancy and lactation, heavy menstrual loss, malabsorption states and decreased stomach acidity.
Iron deficiency can produce a wide range of unpleasant clinical symptoms even before the onset of ‘diagnostic anaemia’.In early stages of iron deficiency anaemia, patients may have vague symptoms of tiring easily, prolonged recovery after exercise, difficulty concentrating, headaches, irritability, or depression.
Tachycardia, shortness of breath, angina pain, equilibrium disturbances, dizziness, tinnitus and a tendency to faint may develop later.Other symptoms include gastrointestinal discomfort, loss or perversion of appetite, flatulence, nausea, abdominal cramping, constipation or diarrhoea, dryness and soreness of mouth and tongue.

You may even experience odd symptoms such as cravings for unusual (often non-food) things (this is known as Pica).

When you have a good look at yourself you may also notice pale eyelids, gums, or nails, dry or rough skin, vertical and horizontal ridges on the nails, brittle, thinning, greying hair, dry and cracked lips and/or reddening of the tip of the tongue.

Why Supplement?

Oral iron supplementation is the preferred form of therapy when iron is low.

The supportive effects of oral iron supplementation have been reported by such ancient peoples as the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

Oral iron supplementation is safe and inexpensive.Although a diversified diet is encouraged, it must be emphasised that no individual food contains enough iron to be useful therapeutically.
A highly absorbable form of supplemental iron may provide rapid, convenient symptom improvement.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 2.58.04 PMWhat to Look For?

When taking an iron supplement you need to make sure you are able to effectively absorb the form of iron being used and that the appropriate cofactors are present to help you assimilate the nutrient in your body.
The form of iron you choose is important as many forms of supplemental iron are poorly absorbed and likely to cause digestive upsets.

Ferrous sulfate found in Fefol and Ferrograd is poorly absorbed and more frequently causes problems with GI upset and/or constipation!

If you are using either of these products or another product containing ferrous sulfate then do yourself a favour and upgrade.

Iron diglycinate

Research shows that the diglycinate form of iron is highly effective as a supplement; it is as effective in replenishing iron as iron sulfate, but is almost 400% better absorbed!
This means that you only need to give a quarter the level of supplemental iron without the risk of unwanted digestive side effects.
Iron diglycinate is a highly absorbable form of iron (see below graph) which is covalently bound and does not dissociate in the digestive tract, unlike inorganic and some chelated minerals.
Consequently it is not subject to competition for absorption from other minerals and may be taken with meals. This makes supplementation with iron diglycinate much more convenient.

Studies found that iron diglycinate is extremely well tolerated with minimal irritation. A study of 100 adolescents showed that 60 mg of iron from iron diglycinate over 4 weeks (or 30 mg over 8 weeks) produced only 0-10% of the side effects (nausea, constipation and reduced compliance) produced by 120 mg of iron given as iron sulphate (326 mg FeSO4).

What else should be with my iron supplement?

Vitamin C enhances non-haeme iron absorption by as much as 600%.
This effect is only accomplished when vitamin C is taken orally.
It promotes iron absorption by keeping it in a biologically available form and protecting it from
oxidation in the gastrointestinal tract.
Vitamin C is also thought toform a chelate with iron, acting as a vehicle for its entry into the intestinal wall. 
Its benefit in increasing the absorption of therapeutic iron supplements has also been reported in studies. 
 
Calcium ascorbate
Both calcium and vitamin C are helpful in making red blood cells. Ascorbate keeps iron in the Fe2+ state, which is beneficial for both absorption and utilisation of the iron molecule.
 

Vitamin B12 and Folic acid

Other factors not associated with iron assimilation are necessary to the proper development and maintenance of red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 and folic acid are two classic examples. They are both essential to the proper growth and function of all cells in the body.
Without proper amounts of B12 and folic acid, the stem cells in the bone marrow do not grow properly. These become larger than normal and are therefore called megaloblasts. They produce oversized red blood cells called macrocytes which are released into the blood.
Because of the increased size and fewer numbers of macrocytes, their normal capacity to carry haemoglobin is impaired and the haemoglobin’s normal oxygen transport function is reduced.
Also their large, fragile, irregularly shaped membranes markedly reduce their lifespan. This condition is known as pernicious anaemia or megaloblastic anaemia.
 
B12 and folic acid supplementation can therefore assist dramatically.
 

Vitamin B(Thiamine)

A less common form of anaemia is a vitamin Bresponsive type.
A report by Rogers, et al, presented a patient whose megaloblastic anaemia did not respond to vitamin B12 and folic acid but responded to vitamin B1.
When the patient received normal levels of dietary Bthe anaemia recurred twice. It was then corrected by supplementation with 20 mg of oral vitamin Bdaily.
In summary, Rogers stated: “The response of anaemia to super-physiological quantities of this vitamin supports a thiamine dependent state and demonstrates a previously unsuspected participation of thiamine in haematopoiesis.”
 

Vitamin B(Pyridoxine)

Vitamin Bresponsive anaemias have also been reported in the medical literature.
The classic form is an anaemia that is usually severe. Its remission is totally dependent upon the administration of supplemental vitamin B6. Withdrawal of Bresults in a full relapse of the anaemia. 

Beta-Carotene

A number of studies have demonstrated a significant positive relationship exists between serum vitamin A levels and biochemical indicators of iron status.
Iron supplementation has little effect in people who are deficient in vitamin A. Haematological indexes improve only when vitamin A and iron are administered together.
As a safe, and independently therapeutic precursor to vitamin A, beta- carotene represents a useful adjunct to the haematologically relevant nutrients.
Bloem, et al., looked at vitamin A intervention on iron metabolism and confirmed that improvement of iron metabolism probably is not a result of a direct enhancement of iron absorption, but more likely from mobilisation of available stored iron and of increased marrow iron utilisation for haemoglobin formation. Consequently iron stores decrease, which may trigger increased absorption of iron.
 
 

Herbs

Stellaria media

Chickweed demonstrates interesting haematinic activity. Haematinic refers to medicines that increase the haemoglobin content of the red cells in the blood.
A recent research trial at the Waikato Centre for Herbal Studies in New Zealand showed Stellaria media might be useful in anaemia. 
This pilot study on herbal iron tonics found Stellaria media to be the most effective, increasing iron binding capacity by 17.6%, vitamin B12 by 12.6% and folate by 5.7%. 
The study group suggested the saponins in Stellaria may be responsible for the increased binding capacity.
 
 

Withania somnifera

Animal trials indicate that this herb increases haemoglobin and red blood cell levels and increases haematopoiesis.
Withania also contains iron itself and this may further contribute to its role in red blood cell formation.
 
 

A note on Hydrochloric acid

Proper levels of hydrochloric acid are essential to iron availability and absorption.
Studies have shown that iron supplements administered concomitantly with hydrochloric acid are substantially better absorbed than iron alone.
Conversely, it has been demonstrated that the co-administration of antacids with iron supplements markedly reduces iron absorption.
Hydrochloric acid lowers the gastric pH, keeping the iron in solution until it reaches the absorptive site at the duodenum.
Hydrochloric acid is also necessary to liberate iron from the complex protein compounds it is bound to in foods.
 
 Emed Recommends:

Forget Fefol and Ferrograd, Emed encourages you to choose your iron carefully… and give your body what it really needs.

 

Further Reading:

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