This article is inspired from a talk by Dr Oscar Serrallach about the importance of iron.
Dr Oscar Serrallach is an integrative GP who is well-known for his work in functional medicine and postnatal health. He has written the groundbreaking book, The Post Natal Depletion Cure.
He is extremely passionate about helping mothers rebuild their health and reclaim their energy after giving birth. He believes that iron is the number one nutrient for pregnancy and postpartum health.
Iron is a multi-faceted nutrient that is crucial for energy production, brain function and immune support. If you are low in iron you might; feel fatigued, have shortness of breath on exertion, dizziness, poor concentration, feel easily overwhelmed and experience problems with your mood. Some physical signs to look out for are; cracks in the side of the mouth, a blueish tinge to the white part of your eye, brittle hair or nails, restless legs and pale creases on your palms.
Dr Oscar says that leading into pregnancy, 40% of mothers are already iron deficient. Low iron in pregnancy increases the chances of a mother having a postpartum haemorrhage after birth, mental struggles, postpartum depression and there are potential long-term side effects for the baby too.
Dr Oscar stresses that you need to work with a clinician who knows what levels of iron are optimal. Most lab references say that you have to be in the bottom 2.5% of the population to be considered ‘iron deficient’ yet studies have shown that in Australia up to 25% of people are actually deficient. This is an example where the ‘optimal biological range’ differs from the ‘laboratory reference range’. Many people are told their results are ‘normal’ when in fact they are probably suffering.
A blood test looking at ferritin can show if iron deficiency is present. If ferritin is below 25mcg/L, Dr Oscar suggests an iron infusion. You can contact him at The Health Lodge to find out more about his recommendations. If ferritin is between 30-50mcg/L, he recommends making dietary changes and supplementation.
Many meats are high in iron. They need to be cooked really well so the iron can be absorbed more easily. Liver is particularly high in iron. If you aren’t ready to cook up some liver, you can try the organic chicken liver capsules that I make. These have helped hundreds of people boost their iron, increase their energy and regain their mental clarity.
Some good plant sources of iron are: beans, lentils, leafy greens and pumpkin seeds. Be sure to look for foods that are organically grown because there is a big difference in their nutrient level. For example, spinach that has been grown in healthy soil can have 1500 times the nutrient level of conventional grown spinach.
When it comes to supplementation, look for products that contain ferrous bisglycinate. Other forms of iron, like ferrous sulphate are much harder to absorb, can increase inflammation and actually lead to a decrease in your ability to absorb iron.
Dr Oscar recommends taking the iron supplements every second day so the body can regulate iron absorption more easily.
He deeply believes that if mothers are well, families can be well... and if families are well, then society has a much better chance of being well.
To find out more about rebuilding your health after birth, I highly recommend you follow Dr Oscar Serrallach on Facebook/Instagram, read his book ‘The Postnatal Depletion Cure’ or make an appointment at The Health Lodge.
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