The iron deficiency that isn’t about iron
We meddle a lot with women’s bodies – contraception, HRT, low carb diets, extreme exercise. Our bodies aren’t machines – they’re complex chemical/electrical/biological systems.
For some women, it gets even more complicated if they have food intolerances or chronic fatigue issues.
Sometimes, when things get out of whack, the things we think to be CAUSING a problem are actually symptoms of something more complex.
Lots of women are minus in the iron department – that’s a known risk of menstruation.
But if you’re repeatedly enduring the discomfort of oral iron supplements or painful injections – and your levels aren’t shifting, then it could be time to look deeper.
Nerves, electrons and fatigue…
Our body is controlled by electrical messages that travel through our nerves like electricity through the wiring of our homes.
But instead of wires, the messages travel through a biological network, powered by just the right combination of nutrients – with key players being iron, Vitamin B12 and COPPER.
Most people think that copper is poisonous – it’s the new toxin (replacing lead). We need a certain amount of copper – just not too much.
For those of you who love the detail, copper is part of an enzyme which attaches iron-containing haemoglobin to red blood cells. That’s what carries oxygen around the body and helps power you through the day. (For all the down and dirty detail, talk to me about the latest research.)
Basically, if you don’t have enough copper in your system then the iron doesn’t stick and blood tests indicate iron deficiency. (Weird hey?) Copper is also a bit confusing because it’s hard to test for accurately. We do have tests, but they’re not always definitive.
Enter your health detective
There are other clues besides direct tests that can help identify an under-cover copper deficiency. They include:
- High zinc supplements for too long can create a copper imbalance.
- A copper deficiency can mimic bone marrow disorders (low white cell counts or neutropenia)
- A copper deficiency can also mimic a Vitamin B12 deficiency (e.g. numbness and tingling in the feet and hands).
- Understanding hormonal imbalances and medications (like the contraceptive pill or HRT).
- The liver controls how copper is added into your blood, so if your liver is sub-par, your copper could be too.
- (and the list goes on)
Keep asking questions and seeking solutions
It can be all too easy in the mad rush of life to settle – to give up and accept feeling not quite right for years.
But if you keep persisting and seeking informed sources of advice, you can often find the underlying issues and start feeling better.