Symptoms or Winter Blahs?

Iron is an essential nutrient; your body needs iron to help carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body and helps produce energy. When you aren’t consuming or absorbing enough iron, there can be significant consequences to your health, energy levels, appearance, ability to concentrate, and so forth.

There are a few common symptoms that can often be confused for general sicknesses or the “winter blahs” but they should not be ignored as they could be a sign of iron deficiency:

Always Feeling Cold

As we all know, Winter brings along the dreaded cold weather, but if you find that you can never seem to shake the chill or get warm then this could be a sign of iron deficiency. Think of your body as a coal furnace and the iron as the coal; if you’re not putting enough coal into the furnace, then it will never create enough heat to warm up the entire house.
Until you appropriately fuel your body with the iron it needs, you will continue to feel cold, especially when others are not.

Read more here: Are You Always Cold?

Feeling Tired

Although the holidays are a time to kick back and relax with family and friends, it often brings about tons of shopping, numerous holiday parties to attend, and so forth. Feeling tired after a long and busy day is typical, but feeling that you are constantly in a state of fatigue is not. In fact, chronic fatigue is a common symptom of iron deficiency.

Chronic fatigue could be the cause of other underlying conditions such as diabetes, depression, thyroid problems, etc. It’s important to check if you have any other symptoms related to iron deficiency to help get to the bottom of the chronic fatigue.

Read more here: Experiencing Chronic Fatigue

Pale Skin

Unless you take off for a tropical vacation, you may be looking a little pale throughout the Winter season. However, you shouldn’t mistake this for just a lack of vitamin D from the sun. If you experienced a sudden onset of paleness, or have been unusually pale, it is advisable to seek the advice of a healthcare professional.

Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common causes for pale skin, and often one of the first noticeable signs. Since iron aids in producing hemoglobin which helps carry oxygen to your muscles and organs, paleness is caused by reduced blood flow.

It’s important to be proactive and be in-the-know when it comes to your symptoms and what they can mean. Utilize this Symptoms Checker to help identify your symptoms and if you are in an at-risk group.

5 Iron-Rich Snacks & Treats for Holiday Parties

The holiday season is upon us and this often means many parties, potlucks, and social gatherings. So, if you’re going to bring a yummy treat to share, why not give the gift of iron? Here are a few ideas for you:

(1 cup black beans = 9.7 mg of iron)

Substituting black beans into a cake recipe is not only healthier and gets you closer to your daily iron intake goals, but it’s also delicious, believe it or not! There are tons of black bean cake recipes available online, but see below for one of my favourites!

1-15 ounce can of unseasoned black beans
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of honey or other sweetener + 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract
6 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of water (omit if using honey)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease a 9 cake pan with extra virgin olive oil, or a thin layer of butter.
Drain and rinse beans. Shake off excess water.
Place beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla, stevia and salt into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. Whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder.
Beat butter with sweetener until light and fluffy.
Add remaining two eggs, beating for a minute after each.
Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix.
Finally, stir in cocoa powder and water (if using), and beat the batter on high for one minute, until smooth.
Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 40-45 minutes.
Cake is done with the top is rounded and firm to the touch.

(1 cup sweet potato cubed = 0.8 mg of iron)

I bet that you can’t have just one of these delicious chips. It’s okay to indulge in this snack because it’s a healthier alternative and also contains some iron! Just slice, lightly cover with extra light olive oil, season with pepper, and bake!

(1 cup dry oatmeal = 29.9 mg of iron)

Instead of pairing this classic recipe with chocolate chips (although one of my personal favourites), which can inhibit the absorption of iron, try adding dried nuts like almonds (1 cup ground = 3.5 mg if iron) or dried fruit like apricots (1 cup = 7.5 mg of iron) or raisins (1 cup = 3.1 mg of iron).

(100 grams of gingerbread = 2.9 mg of iron)

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with gingerbread cookies; a holiday classic! Much of the iron contents come from the chewy, ooey-gooey ingredient molasses (1/2 cup = 7.95 mg of iron).

(1 cup mashed bananas = 0.6 mg of iron ; 1 cup mixed nuts = 3.5 mg of iron)

This serves well as a desert loaf (or even as a slice for breakfast the morning after) and the mixed nuts help to kick up the iron content! Just be mindful with this one because, depending on the recipe, this loaf can be high in fat and calories. Slice into small portions and serve.

Happy holidays and happy snacking!

Happy 10 Months: The Iron Maiden’s Top 10 Articles

Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual authors and does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or employer.

Enhance Absorption with These Top 10 Vitamin C-Rich Foods

Vitamin C helps your body to better absorb iron – both from the iron-rich foods you eat and from iron supplements – along with all kinds of other great health benefits! In past articles, I’ve mentioned that to enhance absorption you can consume non-heme foods with a good source of Vitamin C, and you can take your iron supplement with orange, grapefruit or prune juice (note: this has been proven beneficial only with iron salt formulations).

So, to help you make the most of the iron you consume, here are 10 Vitamin C-rich foods that you can easily add to your daily diet:

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A Woman’s Need for Iron Throughout Her Life

In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8th), I thought it was fitting to make today’s post all about the ladies. Did you know that simply being female puts you at a higher risk for developing iron deficiency?

It is estimated that 20% of women of childbearing age are iron deficient and 50% of pregnant women develop iron deficiency. Each life stage can bring about different causes (or types) of the condition, which include:

  • Increased blood volume
  • Blood loss
  • Reduced absorption

Let’s have a look at the risk that each stage of life brings with it and why…

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I Wonder if MY 70 Blood Donors Know The Importance of Post-Donation Iron Supplementation

As the recipient of 70 units of blood last year (for bone marrow failure), I know first-hand how important blood donation is, and I am forever grateful for those who helped me when I was in need. On the weekend, I heard an announcement from Canadian Blood Services (CBS); while they are always in need of donors, their current inventory of O-negative blood is very low and they are asking for donors to come forward.

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My Story: From the Bottom of My Heart…

As I begin to close out my posts related to Heart Month, health and iron deficiency, I want to take this opportunity to share with you my own personal health story. This is possibly one of the most difficult articles I have written. I live my life by a very simple guideline; I face each issue actively and decide if it’s:

  • an insurmountable obstacle that will stop me in my tracks
  • a temporary impedance that may slow me down, but not permanently stop my progress
  • a crutch which I may choose to use to curry sympathy

Most of my issues are temporary impedances, which is why I have difficulty sharing them. I do not cope well with sympathy, however, I have been told that sharing my struggles may encourage others to carry on in spite of their barriers, and perhaps lend a bit of extra credibility to my knowledge. You see, I am not just an expert in the field of iron deficiency, I am profoundly iron deficient, and this is my story…

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Iron & Your Heart Part 1: Chronic Iron Deficiency

We’ve been talking about heart-related issues in honour of Heart Month, and this particular article may be among the most important of all because it will give you a look into the impact of iron deficiency anemia on your heart.

I want to ask you a question: How quickly would you get yourself to a doctor after experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency? Now, how quickly would you get yourself to a doctor if you were experiencing symptoms of an acute heart disease? A lot quicker, right?

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The Connection between Iron Deficiency and Heart Failure

Today, in honour of Heart Month, I want to talk about the link between iron deficiency and heart failure because it’s far more common than you might realize.

According to a paper published in the Cardiology Journal Heart, iron deficiency is present in 30 – 50% of patients with heart failure and has been associated with poorer medical outcomes including a higher risk of death.

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Interesting Heart Facts In Light Of Heart Month

If you didn’t already know, February is Heart Month as marked by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Right now in Canada, heart disease and stroke take one life every 7 minutes and 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor. Started in 1958, Heart Month is an opportunity to raise awareness of the risks of heart disease and stroke.

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about heart month on my blog, raise awareness for the cause, and also discuss the relation between iron deficiency anemia and your heart. Throughout February, you’ll see this theme reflected in my posts!

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Getting Your Iron Through IV Injection

Getting more iron by eating iron-rich foods and taking an oral iron supplement are effective ways to treat iron deficiency, and while this is the preferred method of iron therapy, there are certain circumstances where intravenous (IV) iron may be necessary.

IV iron therapy is beneficial when iron supplements are unsatisfactory or impossible, such as dialysis associated anemia related to chronic kidney disease. The British Columbia Ministry of Health Guidelines and Protocols state that oral iron supplementation (compared to IV iron therapy) is safer, more cost-effective and convenient.

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In the News – Whole Grains

Whole grains have been given a bad rap in recent years because of the whole gluten-free craze. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of some people’s needs to eat gluten-free and I’m happy to see this craze leading to a bunch of new options for people. The reason I refer to it as a craze though, is that unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or some other medical issue that requires you to avoid gluten; whole grains are actually an extremely important part of a healthy diet!

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What’s the Link Between Celiac Disease and Iron Deficiency?

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder in which gluten – a protein found in wheat – damages the lining of the small intestine, which is the same part of the gut that absorbs nutrients from food. According to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, it is believed that 333,000 Canadians (approximately 1% of the population) are affected by celiac disease, but only about 110,000 have actually been diagnosed.

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12 Iron-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet Pronto

Need to up your iron intake? Well, this list of the top 12 iron-rich foods should help! Generally speaking, foods with an iron content of 1 – 5 mg per serving size are considered to be “good” sources of iron, and those with more than 5 mg of iron per serving are considered to be “excellent” sources of iron. The following 12 foods are not only the highest in iron, but are also found at most grocery stores and can be easily incorporated into your diet.

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