Last week I posted a blog about Vitamin Deficiencies being no joke.
And it’s true. They can get nasty. Preventing a deficiency is MUCH easier than treating one.
Talking about vitamins and vitamin deficiencies often don’t prove to be popular. Not as many people will want to read this blog compared to the Bariatric Friendly Pumpkin Spice Latte post from last week or the Top 5 Apps for Gastric Sleeve Patients. Those are much more exciting topics!
But struggling with too little vitamins or minerals in your body is something we need to talk about. It may not be as glamorous, but if it encourages you to stay consistent with supplementing your body properly…it’s worth it to me :)
So today I want to review IRON and what it does in your body. And why it might have more to do with hair loss than protein……
Shout out to the Bariatric Advantage Website for sourcing me with great material for this post. Much more interesting than my Medical Nutrition Textbook :)
1. What does Iron do????
It builds your blood cells. It brings oxygen to the organs in your body. It keeps your enzyme functioning (which breaks down food). It allows your immune system to fight off infection. It allows the body to grow, develop and thrive.
2. What happens if I’m low??
If your iron count is low in your blood work, you may notice you feel tired and super weak. If you feel those things it could be something else, like dehydration, but it could be your iron. This is why consistent lab work is so important and why you really want to keep follow up appointments with your doctor.
If you’re low you might look pale or grayish. If iron builds your blood cells and you’re low in it, you won’t have a nice healthy pink look to your skin. You might be short of breath, feel dizzy or lightheaded when you stand up. Your nails might be brittle and you may have hair loss. Again, hair loss doesn’t mean it is absolutely iron, but it could be.
If iron deficiency continues untreated for a long-time you can have serious health problems including heart problems and trouble fighting infections. If you need to have a surgery or you have an injury…healing is very difficult with low levels of iron.
3. What are other symptoms? (source: Bariatric Advantage)
Loss of appetite
Difficulty thinking/slow thinking
Cravings for non-food items like ice or paper
4. Where can I get Iron?
While there are great food sources of iron, if you are low in iron you need to be supplementing. If you are a bariatric surgery patient, you need to be supplementing with a Bariatric Specific Iron. Discuss your options with you Bariatric Dietitian. If you don’t have one, you can contact me at Steph@foodcoach.me to find one in your area.
5. Final Thoughts :)
Jump on this ASAP. If you aren’t on iron, see if your multivitamin contains iron. If you’re taking an over-the-counter multivitamin I would strongly urge you to look into Bariatric Vitamins that are made for best absorption with your surgery. Most patients will require 45 to 60 mg of chewable Iron daily (in the form of ferrous fumarate) but in some cases your doctor or dietitian will recommend more. If you haven’t had lab work since surgery and you are more than 6 months postop, get in with your doctor for labs! If you haven’t stayed in contact with your surgeon, find one in your area to establish postop care with. Many bariatric surgeons take on patients who had surgery elsewhere. If not, stay in close contact with your primary care and ask him to draw bariatric labs that will include iron, vitamin D and others.
Set timers and alarms on your phone to remember your iron! If you are an avid tea or coffee drinker be sure to take your iron supplement at a different time of day than when you are drinking tea or coffee. If you have low iron and are a big tea drinker, you should consider greatly reducing or eliminating tea as it will bind up your iron and prevent you from getting your iron status back up.
For more questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or your own bariatric dietitian!