November 13, 2014

Tired & Sluggish? This Essential Mineral could be the Answer.

Ryan Ritchie/Flickr

It feels like my brain is refusing to function at the moment.

My yoga practice is a struggle, my gym progress is declining and just living day to day is a way bigger challenge than it should be.

Studying is hard, planning for my business is harder; teaching yoga has been some what of a relief as I have to be completely present—however, during some classes I forget things and I’m left stumbling, trying to remember simple words like “back” or “thigh,” and don’t even get me started on the Sanskrit pose names…

A few days ago, I decided it was time to get to the bottom of this—What’s going on? Am I losing my mind?

So, I had a blood test and received a message from my doctor less than 24 hours later saying my iron levels were the lowest they’ve ever been.

Wow, what have I done to myself? How did I let it get this bad?

Could this just be because I’m female? Because I’m vegetarian? Does my body just suck at absorbing iron?

I don’t know, but it’s been a huge wake up call. I look back at my diet over these past couple of months and realize that I haven’t been eating properly; I haven’t been taking note of where my iron is coming from in my diet.

If you’re feeling exhausted all the time for no real reason and/or never refreshed even though you’re sleeping normally, iron deficiency might be something to consider.

It might be a good idea to go get it checked out.

Iron is an essential mineral as it carries oxygen throughout your body. If you don’t have sufficient iron, your body cannot produce enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

Without enough healthy oxygen circulating in our bodies, we become fatigued easily. This can affect our memory, which explains why I keep forgetting words while teaching and why I feel overwhelmed when trying to remember things—usually, my brain is excellent at remembering dates, times and my never-ending to-do list.

It can also affect our immune systems, meaning our bodies are unable to effectively fight off infections, so when winter comes, we’re prone to catching everything that’s going around.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Iron deficiency is the leading nutrition disorder in the world. Over 2 billion people worldwide are anaemic, a condition commonly caused by iron deficiency.

“Iron deficiency and anaemia reduce the work capacity of individuals and entire populations, bringing serious economic consequences and obstacles to national development.” (WHO Report)

Women in particular are notorious for having low iron, and it only gets worse during menstruation. Then, add in vegetarianism or veganism and bam! If you’re not watching your diet closely and making sure you’re getting the right nutrients, you could easily fall off the healthy-iron-level bandwagon—and it’s really not that fun down here.

Yesterday, I received an IV dose of iron to give me a good boost, but I hope this will be a one off thing. I would hate to rely on drugs to give me a nutrient that is so commonly found in food. It’s also a very expensive option, and it resulted in me feeling quite nauseous and spiked my blood pressure for a while.

The best option? Take control of the situation yourself!

People have been asking why I don’t just eat meat a couple of times a week, but I know that meat isn’t right for my body; I have known this since I was a little kid. Red meat in particular negatively affects my digestion and causes a lot of pain, which is why I stopped eating it three and a half years ago.

Since I stopped eating meat, my iron hasn’t been drastically low; in fact, for a while, it was higher than what it had been when I did eat meat.

If you think your iron may be a little on the low side, I strongly advise you to get on top of it now. Try adding some of these foods into your diet:

1. Spinach
2. Lentils
3. Dried fruit: apricots, peaches, raisins etc.
4. Collard greens
5. Soy beans
6. Pumpkin seeds
7. Black beans
8. Kale
9. Broccoli
10. Strawberries

Even if you are eating plenty of iron, your body may not be absorbing it, so make sure you eat plenty of vitamin C to help the absorption process. Try these foods:

1. Citrus fruits
2. Berries
3. Mangoes
4. Kiwifruit
5. Papayas

I really encourage taking a close look at what you’re putting in your mouth, check that everything is filled with healthy vitamins and minerals so you’re getting the very best out of every meal.

Don’t wait until you’re feeling exhausted, forgetful and sick before you make the change!



A Nutrition Myth that Keeps us Fat, Sick & Tired.



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Author: Sarah Moyes

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Ryan Ritchie/Flickr


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