Day 3: Women, Blood, Iron & Greens
In the last module, we explored how starting your day by fueling your body and spirit can set the course for a more harmonized and energized day. Today, we will get more specific about how you can treat fatigue with plant-based iron.
The Benefits of Iron
You don’t need to be anemic in order to benefit from additional iron. As mothers, we go through several high demand iron phases: pregnancy, childbirth (blood loss) and breastfeeding. It can take from a few weeks to a year to restore iron reserves after this powerful demanding growth period. Though most of us know the importance of iron during pregnancy, we are not educated about the importance following the postpartum and breastfeeding phase, and in general throughout our lives as women.
There are also other specific times when you can really benefit from intentionally supporting with iron: every month after your period for about a week, if you’ve had surgery, after any time of heavy bleeding, or whenever you have an extended period of fatigue.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve had your kids but are still experiencing consistent fatigue it may be helpful to know that iron has been shown to be helpful anyway. According to the National Institute of Health,”There is some early evidence that iron supplements might improve unexplained fatigue in non-anemic women.”
Here are some questions that can help you identify if your fatigue can be associated with a need for iron.
- Are you tired often?
- Does your skin seem pale?
- Do you have dark circles under your eyes?
- Does exercising feel particularly hard?
- Do you have ridged fingernails and/or brittle hair?
- Does it feel like your pulse is pounding, your heart is racing, or you are experiencing palpitations?
- Do you have a hard time concentrating?
- Do you suffer from dizziness or buzzing in your ears?
- Do you have increased infections?
- Are your hands and feet often cold?
- Do you suffer from dull headaches or restless legs?
- Do you eat less than 4 cups of vegetables per day?
- Are you a vegetarian?
Although it’s not really discussed often, your iron reserves can also affect your mental outlook. When your body is needing more iron, you may feel lack of motivation, an inability to face challenges and lack willpower. If you suffer from some of these symptoms as well as fatigue, it’s worth exploring if supplemental iron can help you.
Iron is available both from meat (largely from beef) as well as plants. While iron in meat is more digestible, in my experience, eating lots of red meat isn’t enough to restore your energy. You also get a lot of the saturated fat from the beef which can be congesting and make you feel sluggish. In my opinion, the best results come from a combination of high-quality, grass-fed, organic beef and plant-based iron from leafy greens and specific supplements.
For healing from fatigue, I have found that focusing on eating more of these iron-rich foods is very important, but it is also very slow. Parenting is demanding, and you need energy now! The trick is to increase absorption of the iron. I have found the best way to do this therapeutically is through a gentle food based supplement or through freshly juiced greens.
Here are some of the quickest ways I have found to get iron directly into your cells:
- Eat leafy greens daily, including collards, kale, spinach, or chard with lemon, lime or vinegar.
- Combining the greens with something high in vitamin C or acidic like lemon juice, any citrus, strawberries, vinegars or red and green peppers it helps to absorb and unlock plant-based iron.
- Take a food and plant-based low dose iron supplement such as Floradex brand. This specific product is really important! Synthetic iron is not the same and can cause digestive distress and is more easily toxic.
- If you’re not a vegetarian, eat grass-fed, organic beef once per week and a daily side of greens such as kale, chard or spinach.
Other important considerations:
- Discuss with your physician about trying low dose iron for treating your fatigue.
- If you have long-standing fatigue, it’s important to get a comprehensive physical that includes testing for anemia or other disorders, particularly thyroid function.
- If you do decide to take low dose iron for several months, also take additional zinc (15mg) for mineral balance.
- Do not take more than 45 mg of supplemental iron daily if you are not actually anemic. Excess iron can have very serious toxic effects on the liver and other body systems. If you are taking a multivitamin or still taking a prenatal, make sure it is iron free if you add the Floradex. You will absorb the iron best through the Floradex, so it is worth separating the two.
Iron Rich Energizing Green Smoothie
This frothy, revitalizing drink is simply delicious and unlocks the iron out of spinach in a tasty treat. It has an amazing ability to pep you up when you’re feeling exhausted and run down.
- ½ cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks in juice (not syrup)
- ½ cup pineapple juice (or water)
- 1 thin slice fresh ginger peeled and grated (or to taste)
- 1 tbs of lemon juice
- ½ cup fresh spinach
- honey, if you like it sweeter (optional)
Blend all ingredients. Add water if you want a thinner drink.
Ginger strengthens digestion as do the enzymes from the pineapple. The vitamin C from the lemon and pineapple will help your body absorb the iron in the spinach.
If you have a hard time eating lots of greens you can supplement with this concentrated Green Superfood supplement, Green Vibrance.
Floradix Iron + Herbs
Floradix is a safe, low dose, organic, liquid iron supplement. It contains highly soluble iron gluconate as well as whole food concentrates and co-factors vitamins B and C. One of it’s greatest properties is that it has very fast, easy assimilation. You may feel a shift in energy almost immediately. It is also gentle on the digestive tract and won’t cause constipation.
Floradix is free of additives, alcohol and preservatives and is the number #1 iron supplement recommended by naturopaths and midwives for maternal health.
Day 3 Summary
- Visit your physician to discuss your fatigue.
- Increase iron-rich greens in your diet.
- Honor your female biology by nourishing your blood throughout your life.
The Next Step…
Tomorrow I’ll share with you some secrets to cope with intense stress and not get burnt out.