Between being Coeliac and The Other Bowel Problems my poor old body significantly lacks in various different vitamins and things of importance, namely iron and vitamin B12. While my deficiencies are caused namely by TOPB, initially Coeliac's was to blame for my low iron levels and episodes of Anaemia.
The Iron Low Down
In Coeliac's changes in the bowel (the flattening and scarring of the villi- the Cadbury's finger like wiggly bits in your small bowel) makes it less able to absorb all the lovely nutrients and minerals and the fat soluble vitamins your body needs such as A, D and K.
This can lead to many (but not all) Coeliac's developing iron malabsorption which is one of the primary causes of iron deficiency Anaemia.
so what is Anaemia?
Here's the sciencey bit now folks....
Anaemia is a lack of red blood cells in the body. The red blood cells are responsible for carting the oxygen round your body. Less red blood cells means more work for the remaining red blood cells, thus your body is having to work harder but with less rescources.
As well as many Coeliac's sufferering from Anaemia, it is also estimated that as many as 8% of women in the UK suffer from iron related Anaemia.
Anaemia can also develop due to a lack of a few other vital vitamins, but we'll go into that at a later date because I'm starting to confuse myself.
Symptoms of iron deficiency Anaemia
- Fatigue/ tiredness/ sleepiness
- Trouble breathing/ respiritory depression/ palpatations
- Paleness/ yellow lemon tinge to the skin
- Hair loss
- Soreness in the corners of your mouth (angular cheilitis). Not to be confused with cold sores
- Brittle hair and nails
- Mouth ulcers
Upping your iron and boosting your absorption
In most cases, iron defiency is treated by your GP with iron supplements. Obviously if your worried about not getting enough iron in your diet or that you may be Anaemic go and see your doctor and ask their advice.
Fancy improving your iron intake? Course you do! Here's some iron heavy foods you can get your chops round and some tips for helping you up your absorption.
- Liver (if you can stomach it) contains 9mg of iron per serving,thats a whopping 50% of your RDA for iron.
- Meat, namely red meat is also iron rich. Chicken and turkey are also good sources of iron.
- Fish and various seafood such as prawns and shrimp.
- Beans, e.g lentils, black eyed peas, peas, soyabeans (otherwise know as pulses)
- Dried fruit such as apricots, prunes, figs and peaches
- Nuts, almonds, peanuts, macadamia's and the like.
- Wholegrains (obviously Coeliac's need to avoid the nasties such as wheat, bran and barely) like brown rice, millet, and quinoa the all round super grain which, it has been said, contains more iron than a slab of steak.
- Breakfast cereals (again be careful if your Coeliac) many are now fortified with iron and other nutritional lovelies.
- Dark green leafy veg such as kale, chard, mustard leaves and bok choy.
Spinach as lovely as it is and packed full of iron as it is, it actually contains a substance which makes it harder to absorb iron.
Ways to up your absorption
- Chug a glass of OJ with your meal. The vitamin C in the orange juice helps break down the iron in your food thus increasing your absoption by up to 30%.
- Don't drink tea or coffee with your meals. Like spinach, they also contain substances which hinder absorption. Nasty nescafe.
- Stop smoking. Tabacco as well as causing a host of other problems and wreaking havoc on your health and body, surprise surprise it also decreases your iron absorption. Stub it out.
- Sup on chamomile or rose hip tea, both full of iron.
- Mollases (treacle like natural sugar) is the secret weapon to boost your iron. 2 tsp's will give you 13% of your RDA of iron. Im not gunna lie, it ain't heaven to the taste buds, but spooned in your tea you'll never taste it.
Benefits of iron
- Helps produce collagen. Yes thats right ladies, a good supply of iron in your body could help keep your mush plump and wrinkle free.
- Helps regulate your body tempertature. Are you that person who says 'is it me or is it cold in here?'
- Iron is responsible for getting blood and oxygen round your body,your brain uses 20% of your bloods oxygen, therefore a good intake or iron facilitates brain function-thats concentration, co-ordiantion and the like to you and me.
- It boosts your immune system. Which could mean less sniffles and colds and could mean that you recover quicker from injuries and general maladies.
- Gives you more energy. Iron is extracted by the body from food, the body then facilitates conversion of iron into energy which is then used by the body.
- Getting your beauty sleep. Iron is often used in the treatment of insomnia, and encourages restful sleep.
I hope that this has been of some help. Again, I must stress I'm NOT a dietican or any other type of medical professional (despite all the wishing in the world to the contrary) the information I have given here,whilst obtained from a reliable source and also from my personal experiences should not be used in lieu of a professional opinion should you believe you have anaemia or need to address your iron intake. Your GP isn't making making silly money a year for you to not utilise their services, so go see them!
Any questions on the subject of anaemia and Coeliac's and the whole iron schbang I can only answer from personal experience, which I'm more than happy to do.
I have also been asked if I take any iron supplements and the answer to that would be not anymore since I've been under treated for Anaemia with my consultant. I have, however tried various different iron supplements in the past including Spatone which is a natural iron supplement that you can add to orange or cranberry juice. Floradix is another liquid iron formula I've used in the past, as well as multi vitamins containing iron.