| Amie Valpone | November 2017 |
This article was sponsored by Megafood and was originally published on TheHealthyApple.com. All opinions are my own.
Iron deficiency is something that goes unnoticed by many doctors and patients. Sadly, most doctors test your blood for hemoglobin, which is not how to accurately read your iron levels. This was a HUGE wake up call for me when I was in my health crisis. Today, I’m talking to you about my journey with iron deficiency, my favorite iron supplement, how to test your iron levels and how your thyroid health relates to your iron levels.
In my 20s I was trying to keep myself alive while suffering from a decade of chronic health issues and ended up losing my period for almost 10 years. I spent the next few years trying to figure out how to get my health back and focused on my iron levels, which was a huge turning point in my journey.
I’m not just talking about any iron here, which is why today I’m going to tell you about a supplement that’s an iron powerhouse. Not only does it include a high quality, whole food source of iron, but it also has plant-based vitamin C, B12 and folate, all of which are needed to ‘build your blood’.
So, why would I want an iron supplement?
After getting out of the hospital with C. diff colitis a few years ago, I couldn’t digest meat or nuts or seeds or any other heavy foods so I pretty much had no iron in my life. I survived off of raw pureed veggies for years and protein powders — yuck! Needless to say, I became quite familiar with iron deficiency.
It took me years to figure out how to get my body out of that awful cycle with iron deficiency. I started adding in lean and finely ground grass fed organic red meat, which made me feel INCREDIBLE after not eating red meat for 10 years and slowly my body started to build back up. So, instead of eating grass fed organic red meat every single day, which I did for a few months to help boost my iron deficiency (and it was super helpful), I decided to reach for MegaFood’s Blood Builder® because as I mentioned in my previous MegaFood recipe, Roasted Banana Tahini Smoothie, they were the purest brand that my body could digest, assimilate and absorb*. I had the pleasure of visiting the MegaFood facilities back in June and saw how they make many of their products. I was blown away by how incredible and clean their entire process was and it made me love them even more.
So, that’s what I did: I started using Blood Builder®. Now, as a side note before you all start commenting about red meat, let me add that it was organic, grass fed, high quality beef from a small butcher in NY. I cannot stress enough about how important it is to listen to your body. I don’t do well with beans and grains, therefore I’ve eaten organic chicken the last 10 years when I was sick but it didn’t help me with the iron deficiency. My body, which may be different from your body, needed red meat. My best advice is to do what works for you. I did not want to eat the meat at all but after one bite, my body craved it for a year. I needed it. You may be different—so just do what works for you. I’m simply sharing my story and what has helped me. The majority of what I eat is veggies and nuts and seeds and avocado and organic eggs now, but yes, I’ve always eaten animal protein and the red meat made a tremendous difference with my iron deficiency.
To keep me going and energized, Blood Builder was an amazing addition to my lifestyle and I really enjoyed taking it every day because it wasn’t the typical constipating iron supplement that you see in the stores*. This was plant-based iron and so it was incredible to finally find an iron supplement that didn’t bind me up, if you know what I mean*.
Now, let’s talk a bit about iron deficiency and why MegaFood's Blood Builder® may be a good addition to your lifestyle.
When there isn’t enough iron in your body, our ability to create normal red blood cells declines and oxygen-carrying red blood cells can’t do their job.
This leads to big problems, which is why it’s key to make sure you’re eating a form of iron or taking an iron supplement that you can absorb.
Enter Blood Builder.
Here’s what I know for sure:
Iron Supplements Dosage
MegaFood has lined the cabinets in my kitchen for many years as I’ve spoken about in My Favorite Multivitamin for Women: MegaFood post. You can read all about why I love the brand and how much I admire them and their transparency. Their products are made from whole, organic, non-GMO foods and they’re plant-based which is incredible because you’re actually reaping the benefits of the whole food.
So, why do we need iron?
Well, first of all, for anyone who wants a healthy thyroid, you must have adequate levels of iron in your body. Iron is needed for a healthy thyroid*. I’ve been taking iron to support a healthy thyroid*. I take Blood Builder daily to keep my iron levels in a healthy range and it’s easy to know the dosage you take by reading the label and taking 1 pill per day (and obviously checking with your Functional M.D. before you take any new supplement)*! How much iron is too much? That’s a question for you and your doctor to monitor and talk about while monitoring your iron deficiency. You can easily get your levels tested to make sure you are absorbing the supplement as well as the iron rich foods you eat.
Iron Deficiency and Your Thyroid
I’m all about thyroid health so let’s chat about why iron is great for your thyroid*.
First of all, iron helps with two steps of your thyroid’s hormone production. The thyroid powerhouses — zinc, selenium and iron — are ALL needed to convert your T4 thyroid hormone into your T3 active thyroid hormone. If you don’t have all of those minerals, your thyroid won’t be able to make your active thyroid hormone, T3. Also, the enzyme that converts iodide to iodine depends on iron, so there’s a lot of work iron needs to do in our body, especially with our thyroid.
Most women who are vegetarian or vegan are deficient in iron (usually ferritin) but it can happen to anyone—women especially since we menstruate monthly. Sources of iron in our food are grass fed organic beef, spinach, oysters, legumes, nuts and seeds as well as organic chicken liver, which is why I started eating grass fed organic beef to help with my iron levels. We are all different, as I mentioned above, so eat the iron-rich foods that make you feel incredible.
What’s fascinating is that MegaFood just completed a clinically proven study that Blood Builder increases iron levels.† Participants were provided a daily dose of Blood Builder and studied across an 8-week period, where researchers recorded their iron stores and any side effects, such as constipation and nausea. After the 8-week period, study participants showed statistically significant improvements in every measure of iron status. And the BEST part: NO constipation or nausea. which is one of the biggest downfalls of iron supplements.*† You can read more about the study here.
Iron Deficiency Test
It’s important to be tested for iron deficiency and you can work with your Integrative/Functional M.D. My best advice is to have your doctor test you for your ferritin levels instead of the regular iron tests, which measure your hematocrit and hemoglobin levels (these will only be LOW if you have a really bad iron deficiency), but ferritin is where your protein for iron is stored so my doctors always told me that ferritin gives you a better idea of the available iron in your body. Hint: Go to a doctor who knows how to test and read ferritin levels. You’d be surprised how many of them do not, sadly.
So, now that I’ve shared why iron is such a huge part of my life and how it helps keep my thyroid healthy, here’s a few more reasons why I love Blood Builder:
- It’s non-constipating, unlike most other iron supplements*. In my opinion, this is the best iron supplement for anemia without constipation.
- It’s full of vitamin C with organic oranges and beet root
- It supplies your body with high quality food-based nutrients to help maintain red blood cells and iron levels in your blood*.
- It helps reverse fatigue and boosts energy levels*.
- It promotes healthy blood cell production*.
- The ingredients folate (with broccoli), iron, vitamin C (with organic orange) and B12 are all included in each pill along with some beet root as mentioned above.
The best part?
It’s one of MegaFood’s top selling products, and to me, they’re easily the best iron supplement brand. So, it’s worth a try if you’re deficient in iron, you’re feeling fatigued, you have heavy periods each month, you’re vegetarian/vegan or if you’re dealing with thyroid issues. Talk to your doctor about adding in MegaFood’s Blood Builder® and let me know how you like it.
I’m a huge fan.
† D’Adamo, C., Berman, B., Chen, K., & Novick, J. (2016). Effects of a commercially-available, low-dose iron supplement (Blood Builder®) on markers of iron status among premenopausal and non-anemic iron-deficient women. (Manuscript submitted for publication.)
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.