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how do you treat anemia without iron supplements?

by (78422)
Updated about 21 hours ago
Created August 25, 2010 at 10:55 PM

Is there anyone out there knows someone who has successfully treated anemia without iron supplements? I've tried to treat it by eating a lot more red meat and no grains and it didn't work. Paleo has raised my HDL and lowered my trigs and c-reactive protein, but it did not help my anemia. i was anemic pre-paleo and got my ferritin to 25 with iron supplements, but stopped thinking my iron would stay up by itself, but it fell again. i was checked out for internal bleeding with an endoscopy and colonoscopy, and i was ok. the hematologist said to supplement so that is what i am doing. any other ideas from people who have been successful without supplements? i am starting from ferritin of 5 and a hemoglobin of 9 point something.

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5650 · April 05, 2013 at 5:50 PM

agreed! i take BSM every day for my anemia.

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539 · September 22, 2010 at 5:48 AM

vmary - likely yes.

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539 · September 19, 2010 at 10:31 PM

I'm afraid I can't -- my benchmark was "will they let me donate my precious O negative blood" when I went in. I'd say it took me a good two months on the chlorophyll before my levels got to normal again. I did supplement with doctor-prescribed iron for about 10 months prior and it didn't have an effect.

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6157 · August 27, 2010 at 6:51 PM

I wasn't trying to suggest that you should eat as much red meat as I do, or that you need to. =) I always have to ask when someone says "I'm eating a lot of X" or whatever, since people's perceptions of "a lot" varies.

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78422 · August 27, 2010 at 5:38 PM

i googled fat-soluble chlorophyll and found it fosters the production of red blood cells and it is a good source of vitamin k. Jennie, can you give me more info, such as your hemoglobin/ferritin level before you started supplementing with the chlorophyll and your levels after supplementation? how long did it take to get out of anemia using those supplements? why didn't you consider supplementing with iron? thanks!

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78422 · August 27, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Jennie, was your iron loss from heavy periods?

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78422 · August 27, 2010 at 5:25 PM

people don't need that much to stay out of anemic range. i also get iron from other animal products, not just red meat. i know it is hard to believe that someone could be anemic on paleo, but it is true. i was anemic before paleo and diet alone could not fill up my iron stores.

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6157 · August 27, 2010 at 5:18 PM

Well, I eat on average 1-4 lbs. of grass-fed beef a day. Granted I am on a mass gain campaign, but 3-4x per week just doesn't seem like a lot to me.

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539 · August 27, 2010 at 5:04 PM

I'm 41, and got the idea from a paleo-sympathetic nutritionist. Two years of iron-heavy foods (including dark leafy greens) hadn't helped my blood. The chlorophyll did.

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78422 · August 26, 2010 at 9:08 PM

Before red meat was evil. I ate a lot of microwave crap-which meant occasional meatloaf or Salisbury steak. Maybe I made tacos from ground beef twice a month. I ate lasagna,pasta,beans,fish,rice,and tofu when my husband was cooking 2days out of the week. Now I eat sirloin steak or beef burgers or flank steak 3 to 4 times a week.

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78422 · August 26, 2010 at 9:00 PM

How old are you and what gave you the idea to supplement with chlorophyll? How is that different from just eating vegetables/leafy greens?

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6157 · August 26, 2010 at 5:42 PM

Define "a lot more red meat." How much were you eating before, how much do you eat now, etc.

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20787 · August 26, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Oops, sorry too long for comments. I reposted a new answer, but I don't know how to delete the comment.

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20787 · August 26, 2010 at 2:30 PM

I was in college at the time, eating SAD and overworking and undersleeping. Since I was poor, I would sometimes do a gig where I would get paid to be a guinea pig for some new drug therapy, usually asthma stuff since it paid really well. Some of the drug trials involved them taking blood and they would often remark that I was anemic or sometimes every really anemic. They didn't give numbers though and I just didn't care-too much other stuff on my mind then. I didn't have money so I just ignored the prob. Later, I would have trouble giving blood because sometimes my numbers were not

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78422 · August 26, 2010 at 2:10 AM

I mean thanks again :)

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78422 · August 26, 2010 at 2:06 AM

Thank you for trying to help me. I'm hoping my experience might help someone in the future. Yes I know what enhances and inhibits iron absorption. I don't know how one evaluates if they have an absorption problem. I have excellent digestion,so I don't have any obvious symptoms of poor gut flora. I do eat probiotics in the form of yogurt already. This again paleoseb and Jem.

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3690 · August 26, 2010 at 1:07 AM

As strange as it may sound, the first thing I would try is probiotics.

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78422 · August 26, 2010 at 12:28 AM

Thx for offering some ideas-but Im interested in what has actually worked for someone. The hemotologist is certain it is from heavy periods,but my flow has been reduced on paleo and my hemoglobin actually got worse. Taking the advice of other posters I recently had blood drawn later on in my cycle so I wouldn't have a result that would be skewed by just having lost a lot of blood.I should be getting the results any day now. I also am testing various thyroid hormones and nutrients to see if I have any other deficiencies.

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26 · April 05, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Blackstrap molasses. Consider covering waffles or pancakes in a little molasses. Blackstrap molasses has long been known as a nutritional powerhouse. Containing 3.5 mg of iron per tablespoon, blackstrap molasses has been used in folk medicine as a "blood builder" for centuries.

Dry cereal. Fix yourself a bowl of your favorite cereal (go for one without the sugar and the cartoon characters on the box), and you'll be waging a battle against anemia. These days, many cereals are fortified with a nutrient punch of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid (check the label for amounts per serving). Pour some milk over your flakes, and dig in.

Use this Anemia forum to discuss more.

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5650 · April 05, 2013 at 5:50 PM

agreed! i take BSM every day for my anemia.

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3690 · August 25, 2010 at 11:56 PM

The doctors don't have any other idea why you have anemia? Are you feeling well otherwise? For me, low iron is caused by bacterial overgrowth that thrives on free iron. You could have a look at lactoferrin, which helps transport iron to the cells. It's still a supplement, but might fix the problem for good.

Other than that, what I could think of that could still reduce your absorption of iron is things like coffee or tea as well as some vegetables, especially when raw, like spinach.

I don't know if you already eat organs like liver, but liver is chuck full of easily absorbable iron.

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3690 · August 26, 2010 at 1:07 AM

As strange as it may sound, the first thing I would try is probiotics.

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78422 · August 26, 2010 at 12:28 AM

Thx for offering some ideas-but Im interested in what has actually worked for someone. The hemotologist is certain it is from heavy periods,but my flow has been reduced on paleo and my hemoglobin actually got worse. Taking the advice of other posters I recently had blood drawn later on in my cycle so I wouldn't have a result that would be skewed by just having lost a lot of blood.I should be getting the results any day now. I also am testing various thyroid hormones and nutrients to see if I have any other deficiencies.

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24538 · April 05, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Things I have done:

Liver, liver, liver.

Thorne Ferrasorb taken morning and night worked really well for me when other iron supplements failed me or just made me feel sick.

An herb called Yellow Dock helped keep my iron up during my first pregnancy.

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539 · August 26, 2010 at 7:58 PM

What worked for me (same exact symptoms) was supplementing with fat-soluble chlorophyll. I don't know why it worked, but it did the trick. I'm almost back up to where I can start donating blood again, should I decide to.

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539 · August 27, 2010 at 5:04 PM

I'm 41, and got the idea from a paleo-sympathetic nutritionist. Two years of iron-heavy foods (including dark leafy greens) hadn't helped my blood. The chlorophyll did.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78422 · August 26, 2010 at 9:00 PM

How old are you and what gave you the idea to supplement with chlorophyll? How is that different from just eating vegetables/leafy greens?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78422 · August 27, 2010 at 5:38 PM

i googled fat-soluble chlorophyll and found it fosters the production of red blood cells and it is a good source of vitamin k. Jennie, can you give me more info, such as your hemoglobin/ferritin level before you started supplementing with the chlorophyll and your levels after supplementation? how long did it take to get out of anemia using those supplements? why didn't you consider supplementing with iron? thanks!

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78422 · August 27, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Jennie, was your iron loss from heavy periods?

101b3a5c96d313d22262f65bdff20acf
539 · September 19, 2010 at 10:31 PM

I'm afraid I can't -- my benchmark was "will they let me donate my precious O negative blood" when I went in. I'd say it took me a good two months on the chlorophyll before my levels got to normal again. I did supplement with doctor-prescribed iron for about 10 months prior and it didn't have an effect.

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539 · September 22, 2010 at 5:48 AM

vmary - likely yes.

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22913 · August 26, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Not a full answer, but I cook everything in cast iron. I'm sure i get more iron because of it.

In addition, cleanup is easier, and searing food is a breeze.

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20787 · August 26, 2010 at 4:17 AM

I used to be anemic often when I used to eat a 'healthier' diet of lots of grains and less meat. But it went away now that I eat paleo.

I would think the real problem for you is what is causing the anemia in the first place. And is it treatable? SUre you can take supplements, but that only treats a symptom but leaves that nagging main issue still unsolved long term. Perhaps you are hoping someone else had the same problem but figured out how to solve it, thus giving you a clue as to where to look. Sorry, I can't help. But I would suggest that you look for anemia groups online and join and see what advice they give. Many many times, I have been helped greatly by groups of people who all suffer the same thing, all talk about it, and thus find out patterns, obervations, and solutions that would never have been worked out otherwise. That way you have dozens if not hundreds of people all trying to find the answer for you, because they are also trying to find it for themselves.

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0 · June 01, 2013 at 6:04 PM

V- I hope you're feeling better and have conquered your anemic issues. For you and anyone reading, The concerns I have are:

  • a blood test is a good indication of what nutrients and minerals your blood carries, but says nothing of your ability to absorb them.

  • indications of a food intolerance or bacterial overgrowth can be so subtle, as we become used to and acceptant of our own condition when it changes gradually or has "always seemed to be that way".

  • and yes, there are definitely higher quality supplements than others. It's really important that you select the right ones for you based on your age, nutritional intake, health issues, and medications/other supplements.

Good health and happiness to you.

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78422 · August 26, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Eva, i took your and Chris's advice and had my blood tested late in my cycle on day 21 and i think it made a difference. i have been supplementing sporadically for 3 months, not as much as the doctor prescribed, but my ferritin is up to 28. a couple of years ago when i followed the doctor to a tee (3 pills of 325mg ferrous sulfate spaced throughout the day), i got it up to 24, so i definitely think when you get tested in your cycle is important.

i was wondering whether i was not absorbing nutrients well or maybe my low iron had to do with gut bacteria, but i think none of those apply. as for bacteria, dr. ayers says:

"V, The signs of a healthy gut flora are consistent with bacteria that can convert soluble plant fiber into the bacteria that form the hydrated solids of stools and provide stimulus for the development of the GALT, Th17 and Tregs: normal bowel movements (no constipation), no food intolerances, lack of symptoms of chronic inflammation -- allergies, autoimmune diseases, acne, depression, absence of gut symptoms -- bloat, gas, etc.

Thanks for the questions."

based on this i have healthy gut bacteria.

as for absorption problems, i got my blood test results and for the nutrients potassium, vitamin b12, and magnesium, i am totally normal. i'm even on the upper end of magnesium 5.8 mg/dL (reference range 4.2 -6.8) without ever having supplemented.

so i don't seem to have an absorption problem. i don't have internal gi tract bleeding either.

that leaves me thinking that my hormones are out of whack due to approaching menopause (i'm 45) or some other gynecological issue. i did have a tubal ligation, so that's something else to explore, although i haven't really found anything there.

in any event, i've left my anemia go for 3 years. i have to supplement with iron at this point until i uncover some evidence-based good alternative. i need to research if there are significant difference between iron supplement brands (right now i go to wal-mart for it).

stephen- for men i've read extra iron is not a good idea, so i won't be getting the iron skillet cuz of my husband, but thanks for the suggestion just the same.

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20787 · August 26, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Vmary, I was in college at the time, eating SAD and overworking and undersleeping. Since I was poor, I would sometimes do a gig where I would get paid to be a guinea pig for some new drug therapy, usually asthma stuff since it paid really well. Some of the drug trials involved them taking blood and they would often remark that I was anemic or sometimes every really anemic. They didn't give numbers though and I just didn't care-too much other stuff on my mind then. I didn't have money so I just ignored the prob. Later, I would have trouble donating blood because sometimes my numbers were not high enough. I learned to only go to give blood if it was about 2 to 3 weeks since my period. HOwever, by that time, when I was donating blood, I had started to get much more into lowcarb and was eating more meat. I found if I ate a lot of meat and ate healthy, the blood letters told me I had really good red blood cell counts like way at the top of normal, to almost abnormally high. There was a definite correlation between what I was eating and what kind of scores I was getting. However, my numbers still drop right after my period and sometimes if it is the day after, I may not have high enough numbers to be allowed to donate. I don't have heavy periods either and they only last about 3 days, so I suspect this effect might be stronger for heavy bleeders.

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78422 · August 26, 2010 at 11:50 AM

EVA, could u give more info about your experience? How old were u when you were anemic? What were your numbers? Did you see a doc for your anemia- what did they say was the cause of the anemia? Why do you decide not to take iron supplements? How long did it take for you to resolve your anemia using paleo? I have learned that some women who have become anemic through heavy periods also have hypothyroidism- so that's what I'm investigating at the moment. At the stopthethyroidmadness.com website people share what has worked for them.

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20787 · August 26, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Oops, sorry too long for comments. I reposted a new answer, but I don't know how to delete the comment.

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20787 · August 26, 2010 at 2:30 PM

I was in college at the time, eating SAD and overworking and undersleeping. Since I was poor, I would sometimes do a gig where I would get paid to be a guinea pig for some new drug therapy, usually asthma stuff since it paid really well. Some of the drug trials involved them taking blood and they would often remark that I was anemic or sometimes every really anemic. They didn't give numbers though and I just didn't care-too much other stuff on my mind then. I didn't have money so I just ignored the prob. Later, I would have trouble giving blood because sometimes my numbers were not

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154 · August 26, 2010 at 1:30 AM

you probably know this; Vitamin C rich food.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78422 · August 26, 2010 at 2:06 AM

Thank you for trying to help me. I'm hoping my experience might help someone in the future. Yes I know what enhances and inhibits iron absorption. I don't know how one evaluates if they have an absorption problem. I have excellent digestion,so I don't have any obvious symptoms of poor gut flora. I do eat probiotics in the form of yogurt already. This again paleoseb and Jem.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78422 · August 26, 2010 at 2:10 AM

I mean thanks again :)

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