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Iron Deficiency and Digestive Disorders.
Iron deficiency is a condition of low blood iron. If you are iron deficient, you are likely to have iron deficiency anemia. This results in feeling fatigued, dizzy, and looking pale. You need iron to help make hemoglobin that transports oxygen to the cells of the body for cellular metabolism.
Iron Deficiency and Digestion.
How does iron deficiency relate to digestive disorders? Iron needs to be absorbed by the gut after you take it in through iron-containing foods or through taking an iron supplement. It turns out that decreased absorption of iron can happen under a variety of situations. Here are some issues that can result in poor iron absorption and iron deficiency anemia.
• Lack of vitamin C—Iron needs vitamin C in order to absorb. This means that a deficiency in vitamin C can also lead to iron deficiency. Many people get around this by drinking orange juice with iron-containing foods or with an iron supplement.
• Lack of vitamin B12—B12 is need for the absorption of iron and when we don’t have enough of it, we get iron deficient.
• Lack of folate—this is a B vitamin necessary for the absorption of iron.
• Lack of Zinc—this mineral is important in the absorption of iron by the GI tract.
• Some medicines can interfere with iron absorption—check with your pharmacist to see if you are taking a drug that interferes with the absorption of iron. Some of these medicines include proton pump inhibitors, antacids, and calcium supplements.
• The intake of certain foods—some foods contain substances that interfere with iron absorption are coffee, dairy products, eggs, chocolate, fiber, and tea.
• Certain diseases can interfere with iron absorption—these include those that cause a lack of intrinsic factor, a substance secreted by the stomach in order to enhance B12 absorption. Other gastrointestinal diseases like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis can interfere with iron absorption directly.
What to do if you suffer from iron absorption difficulties.
If you are experiencing iron deficiency anemia and no other cause, such as blood loss, can be contributing to the problem, it may just be a matter of improving iron absorption in your diet. There are things you can do to help your digestive system absorb iron better.
Start with taking a good multivitamin and supplement that with a vitamin C supplement. These will provide you with vitamin B12, folate, vitamin C, and zinc that can maximize the absorption of iron. Choose a multivitamin that also provides minerals, including zinc and iron so you get them all together at the same time.
If you are averse to taking a multivitamin, eat foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and foods high in folic acid (such as leafy green vegetables, turnip greens, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and spinach). Foods high in B12 include animal foods like beef and poultry, as well as shellfish, including mussels, clams, and crab. You don’t need much vitamin B12 in order to boost iron absorption and increase your red blood cells.
Foods high in zinc are necessary for iron absorption. These include seafood, such as cooked oysters, beef and lamb, toasted wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, cashews, and cocoa powder. Chicken and pork, beans, and cooked white mushrooms are also good sources of zinc.
Dealing with diseases causing poor iron absorption.
If you suffer from celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease, you automatically suffer from poor absorption of a variety of nutrients, including iron. Taking an iron supplement with vitamin C can help.
If you have severe disease and iron absorption is impossible, you may be a candidate for iron injections, which are given intramuscularly. This bypasses the GI tract altogether so that you can have enough iron in your system, regardless of the state of your digestive tract.
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