Could this be what's draining you of your energy?
LIVING NATURALLY with Olwen Anderson
WHEN you're a busy woman with a multitude of responsibilities, you could expect to feel a little tired by the end of the day.
But many women in their reproductive years are dragging themselves through life hampered by a common and often unacknowledged nutritional deficiency: iron.
Worse, too, many women don't realise what's happening and begin to feel it's normal to feel exhausted all the time (it's not, by the way).
How is it that so many women fall prey to iron deficiency anaemia?
One reason is that it can sneak up on you, because you have iron to use now (serum iron) and storage iron (ferritin).
Rather like a savings account, you've got some in reserve.
The problem is you can run really low on your iron reserves before the deficiency becomes evident in physical symptoms.
And rebuilding iron stores can take a long time - months in fact.
You may need not only supplemental iron through tablets or an infusion, but also you will need to improve your intake of iron from food.
Red meat especially is an excellent source of iron, and this makes vegetarians and vegans especially vulnerable to iron deficiency.
When you're focused on improving your iron status you want to help it along (like taking vitamin C alongside your iron) and avoid doing what blocks it.
Like drinking tea, which gets all too chummy with iron.
The tannin in the tea latches on to the iron molecule during digestion and refuses to hand it over, so you end up missing out on it.
In case you didn't already know, iron is one of those oh-so-vital minerals for energy.
It is used primarily to create haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around your body in red blood cells.
Low iron means you can run out of puff when exercising, feel tired all the time and perhaps even dizzy; all because vital oxygen isn't able to hitch a lift on a haemoglobin molecule from your lungs to needy cells.
But there's a secondary loss: it's the ferritin form of iron that is used to create thyroid hormone, the substance which instructs your body's cells to produce energy.
So you could begin to run low on energy from low oxygen and an under- productive thyroid too.
Once you address this nutritional gap, life becomes so much easier, and you can enjoy your day more than drag yourself through it.
But if you're a menstruating female, annual checks of your iron status are important.
Olwen Anderson is a naturopath and counsellor and a columnist with the Tweed Daily News. Contact her at www.olwenanderson.com.au