As I opened my browser, a trending article title from Harper’s Bazaar (1) caught my eyes, “6 Signs You’re Low In Iron.” It caught my attention because I use a remedy for this that is not widely discussed, shared or maybe even known. The first conclusion I hope you draw is that I am personally acquainted with this problem.
As I suspected, it did not mention my favorite low-iron fix, however along with listing some ways to fix the low iron problem, the Harper’s article gave the following six signs of low iron that I thought was worth including here.
1. You’re suffering from fatigue and just feeling tired all the time.
2. You seem to get out of breath easily (and yet you consider yourself fit).
3. You’re looking pale and washed out. NOTE: If you have a bit more melanin, like me, this is not a helpful sign. But keep reading to see how my mom made visual checks for iron/blood.
4. You keep getting ill.
5. You’re having heart palpitations.
6. You get unusual cravings for non-food substances (ie, dirt, ice, paint, or clay).
Low iron is linked to waaaaaaay more symptoms than these, but this is enough to start.
For me, the low iron issue would occur around my periodically heavy menstrual cycles. My cycle not always heavy, but when they were bad, they were bad. I would bleed so heavily, that within 36 hours, the insides of my eyes, my tongue and under my nails would have almost no color. To this day, and I’m 40, my mother who was a nurse, would periodically ask to see the inside of my eyelids.
I would also have no energy because iron is the oxygen-binding element in our blood. Less blood equals less oxygen-binding iron.
While I believe supplements are necessary in many cases, my favorite way to fix something nutritionally is with food. Meat, particularly red meat is widely recommended for a low iron issue, but there is one challenge to this. Many people in the US have less than perfect digestion. Note that you do not have to have a diagnosis to have a sluggish digestive system. There are several factors in today’s food options and lifestyle that lead to this (but that’s for another blog post). With a less than robust digestive system, you are not getting the full-spectrum of nutrition meat is touted to offer. It offers it, yes, but we may not be able to break down and access all of it.
For this reason, my low iron fix is a winner. It requires much less digestion because it’s liquid and therefore is more easily absorbed. It also has mineral co-ingredients/electrolytes, that help with fluid exchange in the body. And versus a supplement, which could be an artificial form of the nutrient and cause constipation, it’s a food and so is more easily recognized and used by the body.
Drum roll, please! My favorite low iron fix is an organic, unsulfured, black strap molasses. It’s also great for those who work out or sweat a lot because of it’s spectrum of electrolytes. Some may be concerned because of the sugar, but to that I say, not all sugar is created equal and the high quantity of naturally occurring minerals is a benefit not to be ignored.
Not all molasses are equal. While I’d be open to using any 100% molasses product in a pinch (read the ingredients to make sure it’s not mixed with corn syrup or some other filler), what I keep on hand is an organic, unsulfured, blackstrap molasses.
Blackstrap molasses is the result of the third round of heat extraction done to the sugar cane. This is why it is so thick, has such a dark color (the sugars get extra carmelization), and why it has the highest concentration of minerals.
Why unsulfured? Sulfur dioxide can be used to extract more of the sugar from less-than-ripe sugar cane. It is also used to extend the shelf life of the finished molasses. The World Health Organization has repeatedly given guidelines and warnings about sulfur dioxide. (2) So got with unsulfured.
And if it’s organic, that’s also a plus.
I don’t have a recommended serving as I usually just take a swig from my bottle and chase it with a couple mouthfuls of water. My mom will mix 1 TBS in a cup of hot water, and drink it like a tea. We’ve even added it to chocolate milk for my young nephews (I’m mindful to use less of any sweetened chocolate mix here), after the doctor had concerns about the iron levels of one of them. And yes, his iron levels were fine on his next visit.
Nutritional data for blackstrap molasses.
See source below. (4)
It’s important to note that as with everything else in our body, iron does not exist or work by itself. And typically, elements that naturally occur together in a food, is exactly what those elements need to work in our body. For example, calcium and magnesium, both found in blackstrap molasses. (5)
The second conclusion I hope you draw is that you can fix your low iron issue also and I hope you’ll give an organic, unsulphured blackstrap molasses a try.
Lastly, if you have a sustained problem with low iron, please see your doctor. Be sure to request an extensive panel to test for things such as ferritin, total iron binding capacity and other iron markers.
Do you have a less-than-popular fix for a nutritional deficiency or another ailment? I’d love to know.
4- Based on a combination of an actual product label and data from https://nutritiondata.self.com
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