Low iron and why you are so darn tired all the time …

“Iron – one of the essential trace elements of life on earth. Formed deep within stars then scattered across space by collapsed supernovas which spew their contents right across the universe. Iron is secreted in our soils, hiding in our glaciers, floating in our oceans and carried in our blood” Ann Jones

I was amazed by this incredibly poetic description of how iron comes to us. So many of us have experienced times of low iron. So how does it happen and what can we do about it ?

Blended green smoothie with ingredients on wooden table


There are lots of reasons why you may be low in iron :

* Dietary insufficiency
* Blood loss from disease, trauma, menstruation
* Times of increased need e.g. recovery from injury, pregnancy, post birth, exercise
* Drug mugging – some medication make it hard for you to absorb iron. These include antibiotics, acid blocking medications, osteoporosis treatments, thyroid supplements.
* Lack of necessary digestive enzymes and cofactors needed for absorption
* Too much calcium or phosphorus

Iron is needed for many functions but the main one is for regenerating and rebuilding red blood cells. RBC’s use haemoglobin to carry oxygen around the body. Insufficient iron leads to low RBC count and means that the heart and lungs have to work much harder to ensure that oxygen is getting where it’s needed. Apart from blood production and oxygen transport iron is also needed for healthy levels of enzymes which control many cell functions and for healthy immune responses.

Signs of low iron :

* brittle or flaking nails
* cold hands and feet
* tongue soreness
* food cravings
* fatigue/lethargy/poor recovery/low motivation
* headaches
* shortness of breath
* lightheadedness
* palpitations/erratic heart rate
* poor immune function
* poor concentration
* depression, anxiety and panic
* muscle weakness and pale skin

Sources of iron include meat, dark leafy vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, blackstrap molasses, pumpkin and seeds, eggs.

Things needed to absorb iron efficiently – vitamin C, B12, folic acid, digestive enzymes and adequate stomach acid. Coffee, tea and wine can decrease your ability to absorb iron as can some medications (see above).

Blood tests :
An iron study of your blood is a snapshot of your current situation.
It is important to have good levels of serum iron and ferritin. The reference ranges on your blood test results are not always a good indicator of an adequate iron status. Read more here about pathology testing.

Depending on your level of deficiency, addressing low iron can take several months to correct and depends greatly on the quality and appropriateness of your supplement. There area number of herbal medicines which can increase red blood cell count and iron absorption making your supplementation much more effective. Anyone who has experienced constipation, nausea or other side effects of ‘off the supermarket shelf’ iron supplements can tell you how unpleasant it can be.

It’s worth speaking to someone who can identify the causes of your deficiency and the most effective, safe and side effect free iron sources for you.




Stressed, wired and tired ? Take the adrenal quiz to see how you score ….


Some of you may have read my posts about adrenal fatigue. If not, you might want to check them out here….



So many of us are living hectic lives, finding it hard to sleep and concentrate, feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and lacking resilience. It’s time to have a good look at how you are feeling and do something about it.

You may think that you are coping well with your busy stressful life but take a few minutes to complete this quiz and see what your numbers tell you.

Adrenal Stress Quiz

Score 1 beside symptoms you have had in the past, 2 for symptoms that happen occasionally, 3 for symptoms that occur quite often and 4 for symptoms that occur frequently. Add up the total score.

­ __Hormonal imbalances (e.g., thyroid problems, PMT, menopausal symptoms)
__Emotionally reactive – short fuse/quick to anger/easily unsettled
__Prolonged exposure to stress (job, family, illness, caregiving)
__Headaches or jaw pain
__Environmental or chemical exposure or sensitivities
__Low blood sugar / feel cranky when hungry
__Food allergies
__Poor concentration/memory problems /brain fog
__Low energy/excessive fatigue
__Racing thoughts especially when trying to sleep
__Dizziness upon standing
__Inflammatory conditions (arthritis, bursitis)
__Nervousness, depression, irritability, anxiety, or anger
__Shortness of breath/yawning a lot
__Cold hands and feet
__Low back pain or sore muscles
__Insomnia/frequent waking
__Heart palpitations
__Eyes sensitive to light
__Cravings: sugar, salt, coffee or other stimulants
__Alcohol intolerance
__Recurrent colds or infections
__Digestive problems or abdominal pains
__Weight gain or weight loss (unintentional)
__Sugar cravings – especially 
at a round 11am and 3pm
__Feeling wired but exhausted
__Waking up tired/unrefreshed
__Getting a second wind of energy around 6pm

Total Score

What your score indicates ….

Under 30 – You are doing really well. Good for you !

30 and 50:  Your adrenals are starting to feel the strain. It’s time to start looking at ways to reduce your stress levels.

50 and 80: It’s time to talk about starting some adrenal support supplements. You are past the point of being able to manage this on your own. You may need specific supplements and lifestyle changes to get back to a healthy score. The good news is that you have caught things at a manageable stage.

80 and 100: Your adrenals are suffering. You may want to consider how you can change your lifestyle, diet and circumstances to better support your health. Herbal medicines and nutritional supplements can help you kick start your way back to health. It is important that you address this now before things become more difficult to treat.

Over 100: You are suffering from adrenal fatigue and will require some longer term adrenal support to feel well again. It is important that you do something about this now not only to feel better but also to avoid the health risks associated with adrenal exhaustion.

There are a number of health issues related to untreated adrenal fatigue including :
poor immune function, increased risk of allergies, higher rates of auto immune disease, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia and sleep disturbance, hormonal imbalances, premenstrual syndrome symptoms, menopause symptoms, higher rates of cold/flu and infection.

If you feel concerned about adrenal fatigue or would like to improve your numbers call and book an appointment to talk about the many simple ways I can help you feel good again and reduce your risk of adrenal related health problems.

Adrenal Fatigue ….that wired and tired feeling


You sleep all night but wake up tired. The first thing you want in the morning is coffee and sugar. The mid morning slump and coffee craving are regular parts of your day. By midday you are hoping for an afternoon nap. Dinner time is when you find some energy then fade again by 9pm.  Can’t concentrate. Forgetful. Craving carbs, Hair is falling out. No time to feel sick but when you do you go down hard.   Sound familiar ?????

It could be adrenal fatigue…

Our adrenals are small glands located on top of your kidneys. They regulate our stress response by releasing adrenalin and cortisol. Stress comes in lots of forms –
Physical – injury, excess weight, pain
Emotional – upset, stressed, overwhelmed, grief, anxiety
Mental – studying, long bouts of concentration, work

We experience different kinds of stress but it all has the same effect on our bodies – a release of cortisol and adrenaline.  These hormones are known as the fight or flight response and traditionally provided us with a quick response to get us up and running from threats and once the danger had passed, to rest and digest. Unfortunately our lives can often feel like a constant barrage of stressful events.

Cortisol is the hormone that protects our bodies from the free radical damage that adrenaline causes. To create cortisol our bodies need protein, stomach acid to break it down, zinc, b vitamins, vitamin c, and magnesium. These nutrients are also needed for lots of other body functions so making sure you have enough, especially when you’re stressed, is hugely important.

Ways to look after your adrenals…

Sleep – aim for at least seven hours per night.
When you feel exhausted try lying flat for 10 minutes. This gives your body cues that you are responding to your stress and slows the adrenal response.
Smile – There are lots of studies proving the positive effects on stress hormones and the adrenals when a person feels happy. Be careful about what you let into your head – avoid negativity, steer clear of the sad/scary movies.
Move you body– just 20 minutes of gentle exercise daily reduces stress and adrenaline. Remember you are not doing this to train or lose weight – just enjoy a walk in the sun or a leisurely bike ride.
Swap caffeine and sugar for real nutrients – make sure you are getting plenty of  zinc, vitamin C, B’s, magnesium, and protein. Caffeine and sugar actually cause direct stress to the adrenals so while it may feel like a short term solution its actually creating a long term problem.
Try to do something for yourself or ask for some help – all too often the person with adrenal fatigue is the one who is looking after everyone else.
Get some help with your health – herbs, supplements, diet and stress management can help you feel good again. Talking to someone about your stress and how to manage it can help you feel more in control and get you back on track faster.