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Why are my iron levels getting lower even though I eat red meat?

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13 replies to this topic

#1 flowermama

Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:22 PM

My iron levels were tested when I was pregnant with DD2 and were low, so my ob told me to take an iron supplement. I tried a few but they made me feel incredibly sick (one made me throw up). I was tested again when DD2 was about 6 months and they were still low, I think 17 or 19 - my GP told me the normal range is 30-150. At the time I wasn't eating a lot of red meat as I was on a very restricted diet to breastfeed DD2. Since then though I've been eating plenty of red meat, at least 3 times a week, plus we eat a lot of green vegetables like broccoli and beans. My iron was just tested again and is lower, 13. I don't understand how it can be lower when I eat red meat regularly! My GP left a note telling me to take an iron supplement but I really can't stomach them. Any ideas as to why my iron would be decreasing rather than increasing with regular red meat/green vegetable consumption??

#2 PatG

Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:29 PM

There is some interesting info here about the absorption of iron from different food types and factors which can increase or decrease your absorption.

Funnily enough the more iron stores you have the less you absorb and vice versa - not so helpful!

ETA new link as other didn't work http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/b.../Iron_explained

Edited by PatG, 17 February 2013 - 05:10 PM.

#3 causeway

Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:38 PM

Maybe try a liquid supplement.

Also check out food combinations which may increase the absorption of iron. For example, drinking orange juice with your breakfast cereal can help with iron absorption

#4 rosie28

Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:44 PM

Try Spatone if you have trouble with other supplements- it's a naturally occurring high iron water, you can mix it with orange juice. It's the only one that doesn't upset my tummy in one way or another!

#5 flowermama

Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:44 PM

Unfortunately that link didn't work, PatG! I did try a liquid supplement and funnily enough that was the one that made me throw up. I'll stock up on some orange juice and see if that helps. I am still breastfeeding but I don't think that affects iron levels too much.

#6 hoohoobump

Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:56 PM

I'm currently trying to increase my iron levels as I have been soooo tired. Ferritin low in recent blood tests.

I have to make sure I don't have tea/coffee close to food as well as that can effect absorption. I was told it was also the dairy that inhibited absorption, so I'm always confused by he advice re:breakfast cereal and OJ...

#7 niggles

Posted 17 February 2013 - 05:13 PM

I'm trying to get mine back up but in my case I haven't been eating a lot of red meat so that's back on the menu. Sort of.

I'm taking a supplement with whatever meal is lowest in calcium and avoiding tea or coffee at that time too (calcium and tannins inhibit absorption). My supplement has Vitamin C included in it to aid absorption.

I've noticed a bit of difference in my fatigue but I can tell I'm not there yet. It's been 2 months since I've been making more of an effort.

#8 noonehere

Posted 17 February 2013 - 05:19 PM

Im constantly up and down with my levels.
I was told to have vit c (like a good quality juice) when taking the tablet as it carrys the iron or something?

#9 Juju38

Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:01 PM

I have had the same problem on and off in my pregnancies.  The best supplement (no nausea or constipation) and I have tried them all (!) is Metagenics.  You can only get it from naturopaths and some doctors.  It gets my levels up again fairly quickly with 2 per day.

Good luck

#10 mindy05

Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:08 PM

My DD has just been put on an iron supplement by our GP, and she was also told to get plenty of vitamin C as this helps with absorption.

#11 Fright bat

Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:18 PM


Take the iron tablets.

It's a myth that you need red meat for iron anyway, given most of the world eats much less red meat than Australians do. Non-heme iron is good for you too.

My bigger question is why you're iron deficient... Pregnancy will do it, as well as heavy periods. Or a generally nutrient poor diet. Red meat alone to correct irondeficiency is insufficient if you're eating white bread and few veggies. Broaden your diet, eat more whole grains and fresh veg.

#12 namie

Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:21 PM

QUOTE (rosie28 @ 17/02/2013, 05:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Try Spatone if you have trouble with other supplements- it's a naturally occurring high iron water, you can mix it with orange juice. It's the only one that doesn't upset my tummy in one way or another!

I was going to suggest this too as it helped me get my levels back up in my last two pregnancies.

My Ob said at the time that a liquid supplement is generally absorbed better than any other type (providing you follow other advice PPs gave of increasing vit C and not having too much calcium or caffeine at the same time), particularly in people who don't absorb it as well as others.

Perhaps you are one such person who doesn't absorb it efficiently. If you can't find a supplement that works for you (and even if you can), you may need to follow all of the above advice, but also look at other iron-rich foods.

These sites list iron-rich foods: Top 10 list (US site), Top 9 List(Aus site), from Aus Institute of Sport and Better Health Vic.

#13 Guest_*SnowFlower*_*

Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:59 PM

I have very low iron levels and have never been able to tolerate iron tablets until recently when I tried ferro-grad C. Have you tried it?.


#14 *kat*

Posted 26 February 2013 - 01:24 AM

I have the same problem.... Levels were 11, then 9 and now at 4  sad.gif .

I have had countless iron injections (dont work) 2 iron infusions (reaction to the last one) which only pushed it up to about 13 for a few months but didnt last.

Have used Ferro grad C, Liquid Iron... made sure I took it with juice, made sure I didnt take it with any other vitaman as they can affect it.

Finally after 5 years I am seeing a haemotologist that will look into everything - sometimes there can be a deficency in the body that doesnt allow you to store it. If this is the case, it doesnt matter if you ate liver all day - it would be the same.

If all of the others suggestions dont work, I would get it looked into.

I'm tired of feeling tired !  cool.gif  Its not nice, hope you get answers soon.

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