Hey Foraged lovers! Welcome to this week’s blog where we will be discussing one of our most favourite outcomes from creating The Mother’s Blend… Iron! Never in our wildest dreams did we expect this many reviews about The Mother’s Blend drastically improving iron levels. We never intended Foraged to be known as an ‘iron supplement’, you guys did! For this reason, it has brought so much joy to individuals' lives - with more energy, clarity, stamina, better mental health and higher functioning immune systems.
Each ingredient was chosen intentionally to deeply nourish on more levels than one, but was not necessarily designed as an iron supplement per se. It was developed to cover as many bases as possible with the small couple of teaspoons, aiming to cover the needs and nutritional gaps that most people miss even when following a nourishing, wholesome diet. We receive countless reviews each week reporting that our blend has helped raise ferritin and haemoglobin levels, while also improving deficiency-related symptoms in an array of individuals, including our depleted mums through pregnancy and postpartum. There’s quite a few reasons this may be and in today's blog we are going to get to the bottom of it!
Firstly, let's unpack what it means to have low iron.
Some common symptoms of iron deficiency and anaemia include fatigue, tiring easily, pale skin, breathlessness, orthostatic hypotension, frequent headaches, racing heart, heart palpitations, mouth ulcers, brittle nails and hair loss.
Recognising iron deficiency or anaemia can be done through a blood test, by having a full “iron studies” panel. Of course you need your healthcare practitioner to interpret these levels correctly, but in very simple terms, this is what our iron studies markers mean:
- Ferritin: indicates your iron storage, but is not the only important indicator of an iron deficiency.
- Iron: shows how much iron is getting absorbed through your gut, reflective of generally the previous 48 hours of iron intake.
- Transferrin: indicates how hungry your body is for iron.
- Transferrin saturation: % of cells that are saturated, ready to deliver iron to tissue.
Additional, but highly recommended, markers to look at when assessing iron:
- Haemoglobin: this is a protein found in red blood cells and this test of course measures the amount of haemoglobin in your blood. It can indicate how well your blood is transporting oxygen through your body.
MCV: shows size of cell indicating possible iron, B12 or folate deficiencies
Please note, that during pregnancy, it is natural for your ferritin to reduce and it is not the only indicator of an iron deficiency. It is important to note that haemoglobin must be tested to determine a true iron deficiency, especially in pregnancy due to haemodilution that occurs. If your levels are below 105 g/L during pregnancy, then that is time to absolutely take action to increase your overall iron levels.
If your ferritin is low, and your haemoglobin is okay, it is likely that you need support with iron metabolism via the various cofactors we discuss below.
So let’s say you get your blood test back from your practitioner and it says you are low in iron, anaemic, or perhaps you have been getting repeat tests indicating a constant deficiency. There’s a few things to consider here to understand WHY this is happening. We can supplement, transfuse and test until the cows come home, but your iron won’t hold if you don’t understand the WHY. For some people this can look like a low dietary intake of food-based bioavailability iron, a damaged gut lining hindering nutrient/iron absorption, possible bacterial or parasitic infection utilising iron as a fuel source, preventing absorption and increasing inflammation of the gut lining, internal bleeding depleting iron stores, poor quality iron supplements taken incorrectly, or lack of nutritional cofactors necessary for iron metabolism including absorption and transportation around the body.
So if this is you… here are a couple of points to consider when trying to investigate and resolve the iron issue, which will reiterate why we think Foraged has started to surpass sales of some of the most well-known iron supplements on the market.
Ensuring you are meeting your nutritional requirements through dietary intake
Including iron-rich foods of both heme and non-heme sources such as grass-fed red meat and organs (lamb, goat, kangaroo, beef, liver, spleen), legumes (beans, peas, lentils), seafood (sardines and octopus), some grains (quinoa, millet, amaranth), organic dried apricots and plums, nuts (pine nuts, cashews, almonds), seeds (chia, flax and poppy), cacao powder, pasture-raised egg yolk, dark leafy greens.
Ensure you are including cofactors.
If you miss this step, the iron will not be absorbed or utilised! If you are supplementing a synthetic, including cofactors necessary for iron absorption, transportation and utilisation in the body is ideal, whether this is in the same supplement or through dietary intake. Cofactors include vitamin C, B12, folate, vitamin A and copper. Magnesium is also critical for enhancing haemoglobin levels, and is commonly low when one is suffering anaemia, and when enhanced can improve iron levels, iron metabolism, including haemoglobin.
Investigate the integrity of your gut lining.
This may look like functional stool testing or coeliac testing. If this isn’t doable, including foods to support healing your gut lining is a great option (bone broth, bone marrow, fish, dark chocolate, beef liver, cod liver oil) to see if your iron levels improve.
Investigate your gut microbiome.
A functional stool test is a great option here to get a full look at the gut microbiome and possible imbalances but if not affordable, simple MSC PCR testing can be done by your GP to investigate possible pathogens. The probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum 299v can also help prevent iron deficiency and assists with iron absorption. Ensuring your fermented food or probiotic contains this in times of true iron deficiency can be a really beneficial action step.
Investigate internal bleeding.
This could look like a colonoscopy or endoscopy, CT scan, or stool testing with your GP, whilst paying attention to any blood that may be passed in bowel movements.
Ensure you are taking a quality supplement.
If you choose to supplement with a synthetic, ensure it is great quality and at a therapeutic dose (more is not always better). Due to hepcidin’s ability to block the absorption of excessive amounts of iron, taking a therapeutic dose every second day is ideal and absolutely no more than 40 mg per dose. It is preferably taken on an empty stomach away from any coffee, calcium and zinc supplements.
We believe it may be due to Foraged containing such bioavailable nutrients in their food-based form and in an incredible balance to support iron metabolism, containing all the necessary cofactors to support optimal nutrient replenishment, including iron. Foraged contains beef liver which has nourishing doses of iron, B12, Vitamin A and copper but Foraged also contains non-heme iron sources, folate sources and some of the highest food sources of vitamin C. These in combination and in their natural most bioavailable form, may be what is supporting such beneficial iron uptake. Beetroot juice also has a beautiful dose of natural nitrate, which helps results in an incredible ability to deliver nutrients around the body. As noted in our previous blog on beetroot, ‘beetroot juice has been shown to improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to the body's tissues, including the brain, heart, and muscles. This effect is thought to be due to the high levels of nitrates found in beetroot juice. Nitrates are converted in the body to nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes and widens blood vessels, improving blood flow.’
Here are some of our recent iron testimonials:
I've been anaemic since puberty, I'm onto my 4th pregnancy and even after my iron infusion, my levels were still 3! 6 weeks taking Foraged and they went up to 16!! No words! The first time in forever, that my eyes aren't dark, my heads not foggy, I'm 34 weeks pregnant and have energy.. cannot thank you enough! — Cammy
Iron stores increased after taking Foraged. Overall feeling great on it and can notice a difference in energy when I don't take it for a couple of days! — Ana
No longer low in iron, I have loads of energy, I don’t slump in the arvo, I sleep well and I wake not feeling sluggish. — Karlina
I took a blood test to check my Iron levels to compare pre-supplement and post, my Iron levels have increased threefold (from 32 to 90)! I haven't changed my diet drastically so I think it is the blend helping — Jess
I recently ran out of this and had to have a blood test, my Iron levels had dropped significantly and so fast, it really does help. I've tried so many things for Iron over the years and this wins hands down! — Kyarna
If Foraged has had an impact on your nutritional status, we want to know about it! Please leave us a review, we’d love to hear from you.
With so much love,
Our founder, Sheridan and Jessie, our in house nutritionist.
Need more help?
Our founder, Sheridan, has written a program particularly to support women before, during and after pregnancy and overcome nutrient deficiencies, with a deep dive into how to nourish yourself with real food, and there are plenty of recipes to support families during this process. You can find that here.