Did you know that Iron and Vitamin C are best buddies?
Did you know iron deficiency affects 20-25% of the world’s population?
I would even speculate more than that as most cases probably go unreported or undiagnosed. I suffered from anemia. I remember going to donate blood for my 5th time in Langley and I was so excited because Frosting’s Cupcakes had donated mini cupcakes and I would get one after I donated (this trumps the packaged cookies, sorry to say). I sat down to have my iron levels and such checked to make sure I could donate and the nurse said to me “Your iron is low, how are you feeling today?” I’ll admit I was a little surprised my iron was low, I eat steak and spinach all the time! To answer her question though, and that day especially I didn’t feel well. My brain was a bit foggy and I was very tired, as I had been for as long as I could remember. Well lucky for me (and my cupcake destiny) my blood type is O negative – the rockstar blood and Canadian Blood Services needs me to donate as frequently as possible. So, 3 mango juice boxes later I’m doing cartwheels into the donation chair and they are happily taking my life saving blood. The nurse came over while I donated and said “Maybe you should sit your next donation out, let your iron stores replenish” I thanked her for her advice then thought – Why don’t I just look into why I have low iron? I’m sure it’s affecting more than just my ability to donate blood. While I pondered that thought I chowed on a black velvet mini-cupcake and since my cartwheels didn’t go unnoticed an older gentleman kindly donated his cupcake to me as well – I picked a cookies and cream and it was delicious (no they weren’t gluten free, but Frostings does make amazingly moist gluten free cupcakes in mini and regular size – if you are in the Langley area I highly recommend you pop in and try the neopolitan, tastes just like the ice cream http://www.frostingcupcakery.com/ )
Back to the iron – I went to my local health supplement store (the one in Murrayville that saved my life) and asked for a good iron supplement and also “Why do I have low iron when I eat steak all the time” (No I didn’t feel like an idiot asking this, I’m sure they hear it all the time) their reply surprised me a bit “Well are you taking vitamin C or eating it with your iron meals?” So you’re saying I should eat an orange with my steak? What the? But no, apparently you can eat as much iron as you want but if your body isn’t absorbing the nutrient it really won’t do you any good. I started recalling the copious amounts of spinach I had eaten in the past few years and the fact that I didn’t feel like Popeye and suddenly the world made sense again. I’m one of those people who doesn’t need a technical explanation to trust people who know more about something than I do but for those of you who really want to know how vitamin C helps absorb iron here it is:
It is often recommended to individuals who have iron deficiency (anemia) that they take their iron supplements with orange juice. This is because the vitamin C in the orange juice aids in iron absorption. When vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, enters the stomach it mixes with the iron supplement that contains non-heme iron. The ascorbic acid is able to reduce iron from its non-heme form to a form called ferric iron. The ferric iron then leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine. Iron absorption in the small intestine is able to occur because the iron is in this ferric form. Ferric iron has a low pH, which enables the mucous cells of the small intestine lining to take up the iron. If it wasn’t for the vitamin C converting non-heme iron into ferric iron, the iron would pass through the body and not be absorbed! (Taken from http://www.chpcanada.ca/en/blog/does-vitamin-c-increase-iron-absorption#sthash.6ia49Ayj.dpuf)
So enough with the technical mumbo jumbo, I bought an iron supplement and some vitamin C powder and off I went (for the record vitamin C does a ton of other amazing things – helps produce collagen, natural anti-histamine, antioxidant to fight cancer, heart disease, cataracts – the list goes on) I would say within a week I noticed my energy levels getting better. I just felt better. It made me wonder how long I had been suffering from low iron/anemia and how I wished I had known about the vitamin C connection earlier on. That’s why I am passing the information to you in this week’s “Did you know”
So now when you go to eat that spinach salad, squeeze a bit of lemon juice onto it before you eat it. Having a big steak for dinner? Try having a half a squeezed lemon in some water while you eat it. Or try some lemon squeezed onto your steamed asparagus on the side. Vitamin C powder is also very cheap and so are iron supplements if you want to attack this head on. Of course you should probably talk to your doctor or natural health supplement supplier before running out and buying stuff on my suggestion but a lack of iron may be causing you issues that can easily be corrected.
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