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Old 08-02-2008, 02:25 AM   #1
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Tips on raising ferritin levels

I discovered that my ferritin level was only 8 last month and 4 weeks later it is now 32. I thought I'd share what I did to help others, as I was warned it could take months to raise my levels to normal. I am vegetarian and do have quite heavy periods.

1) I took the contraceptive pill back to back to avoid a period. The doctor said it is safe to go up to three months without a period.

2) I started off on two ferrous sulphate tablets a day and raised it to three after two weeks.

3) When taking the iron tablets I took it with a glass of orange juice or vitamin c tablet to aid absorption.

4) I take two spoons of Blackstrap Molasses- one in the morning and second in the afternoon. I highly recommend this if you suffer from lack of energy as it worked well for me.

5) I added iron rich foods such a broccoli, figs, raisins and also took Brewer's Yeast once a weeks to keep my B vitamin level topped up.

6) I limited caffeine and alcohol as they inhibit iron absorption. I also avoided taking calcium the same time as iron.

My aim is to get my level to 70 and then drop the iron tablets to one a day. I will carry on taking vitamin C to increase the amount my body absorbs from the food I eat. Only 10-20% of iron from non-meat sources is absorbed by the body, but this can be increased by eating more vitamin C.

Most multivitamins with iron and slow release iron tablets are not absorbed as effectively as ferrous sulphate. If you struggle with iron tablets try Spatone.
Good luck!

 
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Old 08-02-2008, 05:57 PM   #2
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

I am happy for you! Yours are very impressive results. I don't think many of us are prepared to take such drastic steps (the pill, for instance...) but it sure seems to have worked for you. I wonder what, in particular, has had the biggest impact on your ferritin level.
Have there been any concerns about a possible iron overload?

flowergirl

 
Old 08-02-2008, 06:18 PM   #3
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

IMHO, taking the pill is not so drastic. It's extremely important to do something to stop the bleeding and for someone who is young and still hopes to have children someday, it's a good option. Frankly, I think the pill has gotten a bum rap. We all seem to know someone who can't tolerate it for whatever reason, but we don't hear about the millions of women who take it without incident every day, and for years on end. It's been around since my mother's day (not that I want to know about my mother's "day", if ya know what I mean). And back then, there was enough hormones in it to sterilize an elephant.

Not that I plan to take it for any great length of time because I am now over 40 and the risks do go up with age. But when you are plagued with horrible periods and suffer with anemia for so many years until you just can't stand it anymore, my doctor's words "you can take The Pill" came with a choir of angels singing in the background. My husband had a vasectomy so children are not in the cards so I view it as medicine. The anemia was becoming more dangerous than the risks associated with the pill.

(Watch! Now I'll temp fate and develop a blood clot or something!)

 
Old 08-02-2008, 10:17 PM   #4
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

You have raised several good points, ChickieLou.

However, taking a birth control pill does not come without risks. I don't really intend to go into all that and did not mean to raise that particular issue at all. Anybody who does some basic research prior to going on the pill should be well aware of the pros and cons of using it. I took it myself in my younger years for a short period of time. It provided a very convenient and much appreciated form of birth control until my tubal ligation at 23. What I meant to say in my post was that there are some women now who cannot take it for one reason or another. One of those reasons is having a high blood pressure. I have high blood pressure and could not take this pill today if I wanted to.

I wish the hearty one the best of luck and really appreciate her sharing this good news with us. How wonderful to know that with a lot of hard work and dedication, something that normally takes a considerable amount of time can be achieved in just a matter of weeks. Her dedications reminds me of myself last year, when I tried to get my cholesterol under control. It is difficult to remain so highly motivated as the time passes.

flowergirl

 
Old 08-03-2008, 02:02 AM   #5
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

It is true the birth control pill can have side effects and may not be suitable for those with high blood pressure. However for someone like myself it is perfect. My hair has thinned considerably because of my low ferritin and so I was determined to do something about it!

 
Old 08-03-2008, 02:05 AM   #6
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

Thanks, I am not sure what had the biggest impact in raising my level. I did bring in many changes so it could be the combination of changes made, rather than any one thing I did.

 
Old 08-03-2008, 08:57 AM   #7
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

What raised your levels was the combination of fixing the bleeding (through the pill) and supplementation. For the first three months that I took the pill, my anemia did not improve on its own. That was a very disappointing day when I had my blood test and saw no improvement whatsoever. And since I was still feeling so lousy, my doctor put me on an iron supplement immediately. My numbers improved greatly in just three months. If I was still hemorrhaging monthly, it would have been like pouring water in a bucket with a hole.

My plan at this point is to take the pill and supplement until next February (which just happens to be when my next physical is) and then talk to my gynecologist about an ablation because neither she nor I wants me to be on the pill too long. But if I was younger and this was happening (what makes me angry is that I DID have the bleeding issues when I was younger and complained alot and no one did anything), I would take the pill for as long as I could.

 
Old 08-03-2008, 11:25 AM   #8
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

Yes I totally agree with what you say. The way I used to feel before the pill was scary, it was the right choice for me.

 
Old 08-04-2008, 04:28 AM   #9
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

That is excellent that you had such quick results

From the extensive time i've spent on this board i have found that the only people who go up so fast ferretin-wise are those who may have either lost a lot of blood at one time eg: childbirth or those with a more vegetarian diet and then they changed their diet and added meat and/or iron supplements.

A lot of us have done everything possible, plus more, have researched high and low for ideas and still it takes the most amazing effort to get our ferretin to move up just 5 points in a month. Some have difficult moving up one point per month!!

I spent 2 long years getting my levels to 61 and it took me one year to get from 8 to approximately 14. I ended up getting a series of 5 iron injections and that only got me from about 27 to 35. When my levels finally got to 61 and i still felt tired and i was still shedding hair and my higher iron levels didn't improve my thyroid levels, my doctor ordered a thyroid antibodies test and that is how i was finally diagnosed with a very LONG standing thryoid condition called Hashimoto's.

This is why i'd now beg anybody who is a meat eater, has a healthy diet, is not losing a huge amount of blood on a regular basis and is doing ALL the right things and is still finding that it is taking more than 6 months to fix their iron problem to start looking for what is causing their low iron.

ps: i have read great things about black strap molasses and actually bought a jar in the healthfood section of my supermarket recently. I've also bought a cast iron skillet/pan type thingy to grill/cook my steaks on as i've heard that it's healthy and releases a bit of iron onto the food. Nothing nicer than medium/rare grilled steak

 
Old 08-04-2008, 07:58 AM   #10
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

Thank you for sharing that with us. Your post has left me wondering how many people with certain health conditions are never diagnosed, because their doctors don't try hard enough to look for the root of the problem. It is really quite scary.

I happen to have a cast iron frypan I never use..perhaps it's time to dig it up. That's easy enough. Thanks for that tip! I don't think it matters much WHAT is cooked in it, it should still absorb some iron, right?

flowergirl

 
Old 08-05-2008, 10:52 AM   #11
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

That is some excellent advice you give. I have learned that it is important to push for a diagnosis and to be treated as a whole person rather than any one symptom at a time. Luckily I saw a really good G.P who has given me a lot to think about.

I never ever thought I'd go up so quickly as in my first blood test my ferritin was 11, two weeks later it was 8! And that was after I started taking a multi vitamin. I am so pleased and relieved that I am managing to make significant changes without having to start eating meat.

I am curious, have you upped your vitamin C with your iron supplementation? I suspect my change was big due to that fact I've not had any blood loss because of the contraceptive pill. I wish you luck in feeling better. The reviews I have read about Blackstrap Molasses have been amazingly good. I like the taste so it is an easy thing to add to my diet.

 
Old 08-06-2008, 04:47 AM   #12
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

My gp tried to stick me on birth control pills years ago when i had the hair shedding, ferretin falling, messed up menstrual cycle issues (not that he even noticed the ferretin falling). I tried 3 different brands of the pill and each one had the most awful side effects. I then went off the pill and refused my gp's "band aid" treatment. Lucky i never took the pill as the fact my cycles were such a mess must have meant that my hormones were a mess way back then. It's only now that i did a proper hormone test which spanned from 6am to 10pm that i found out my estrogen is double and my progesterone and testosterone aren't that great either.

I agree the pill is a marvellous invention for those who are healthy, but too many doctors are finding it way too convenient to simply stick someone on the pill when there are other undiagnosed things going on. Going on the pill in my situation would have caused who knows what else to occur. My current doctor has advised me to also stay off the pill until we sort out my thyroid condition. I have no intention of even going on it so no fear there.

Most doctors don't even tell their patients that they ought to be taking a multivitamin B along with the pill as the pill depletes you of your vitamin B's.

By the way, how do you take your black strap molasses? I was thinking of putting it in a smoothie, but that would have milk in it and calcium hinders iron absorbtion. My next option was to just take a spoonfull and eat it off the spoon

 
Old 08-07-2008, 12:56 AM   #13
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

Actually, I don't believe that the pill has no side effect on the 'healthy' women. The pill is among the factors responsible for Estrogen Dominance, so in the long run i think you'll suffer loss more than benefit from the pill. I wonder if anyone has followed up those 'healthy women taking the pill' for example 10-20 years later, in order to see how their health has been affected...

 
Old 08-07-2008, 05:12 AM   #14
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by peace4health View Post
Actually, I don't believe that the pill has no side effect on the 'healthy' women. The pill is among the factors responsible for Estrogen Dominance, so in the long run i think you'll suffer loss more than benefit from the pill. I wonder if anyone has followed up those 'healthy women taking the pill' for example 10-20 years later, in order to see how their health has been affected...
Actually, I believe that the birth control pill is one of the most heavily studied drugs out there and they have been following women during and after treatment with them. I don't have the studies to cite, but there have been some good, long-term studies on pill use and, believe it or not, there have been upsides to pill use (for instance, a significant decrease in pill users who took it for my than 5 years with regards to ovarian cancer).

 
Old 08-08-2008, 04:53 AM   #15
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Re: Tips on raising ferritin levels

The use of the pill has been studied in depth and I have friends who have used it for longer than 10 years with no problem. Of course there are side effects (like most things) but in my case it was perfect. My periods were so bad that I wished I would die every month. There was also a chance that I wouldn't be able to do my job to the best of my ability.

After doing a lengthy amount of research and based on personal research the pill was a ood option for me to improve my quality of life. As soon as my periods started my iron dropped so much that I had really bad tinnitus and several other bad symptoms. I do believe that compared to other medicines at least the hormones in the pill are something that our bodies already make. It isn't exactly an alien substance!

 
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