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dragonfly7

Start iron supplements or not?

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I had several blood test just before starting my Whole 30, and my primary care doctor wanted me to start taking iron supplements because my iron levels are low, though not low enough to classify me as anemic. I am also being referred to a hematologist for that and high red blood cell, platelet, and alkaline phosphatase levels.

However, I definitely am increasing the amount of iron I am eating through my Whole 30 and will have been eating that way for 3 weeks by the time I see the hematologist. Should I still start supplements, or will that be too much iron?

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That's a touchy question. If it were me and I was not anemic, I would just eat plenty of red meat and get my iron checked at my next medical appointment. I'm not sure what you should do.

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I think a more important question is WHY are your iron levels low. Are all of them low? or is just your serum iron low? Is ferritin high? Is there an underlying cause?

some disorders that are actually caused by too MUCH iron can manifest with low serum iron levels. treating just the symptom and taking iron supplements is counterproductive (and actually can be pretty dangerous) in that situation.

We really can't answer this question, or give you medical advice. If you're already increasing your iron through your diet, I would just call my doc and ask if the diet change would be enough to affect change before the appt...but that's totally your call!

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There's several dietary factors that decrease the amount of iron absorbed by the body. Some legumes, nuts, vegetables, roots and grains contain phytates and oxalates that hinder iron absorption. Tannins in tea and coffee, fiber, calcium, phosphates in pop, antacids and some soy proteins also interfere with absorption of iron. Good news is that vitamin C greatly improves the absorption of iron, especially if the meal also contains factors that inhibit iron.

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I think a more important question is WHY are your iron levels low. Are all of them low? or is just your serum iron low? Is ferritin high? Is there an underlying cause?

some disorders that are actually caused by too MUCH iron can manifest with low serum iron levels. treating just the symptom and taking iron supplements is counterproductive (and actually can be pretty dangerous) in that situation.

We really can't answer this question, or give you medical advice. If you're already increasing your iron through your diet, I would just call my doc and ask if the diet change would be enough to affect change before the appt...but that's totally your call!

All of the iron levels measured in a standard blood test were low. I don't know yet if they actually measured ferritin. Maybe on the sample the hematologist received, which I don't know the results of yet. I've been low but not anemic every time my blood has been tested or I've tried to donate blood, all my life.

I know this is a tricky question, and there is only so much advice you can legally give. I logged what I've been eating the past 4 days in a nutrition tracker and am still not getting quite enough iron, even when I do eat red meat, so I will go ahead with the iron supplement for now. Actually, the only Whole 30 compliant ones available locally are dosed at 2 tablets per day (278% of daily value), so I could even take just one tablet and still have more iron than needed.

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If you're already increasing your iron through your diet, I would just call my doc and ask if the diet change would be enough to affect change before the appt...but that's totally your call!

FYI, the official word from the hematologist is that it takes 3 months for increased iron intake (as food or supplements) to affect change.

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