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Questions about iron supplements…

Written by Wellness Club on December 9, 2008 – 4:38 pm -

Questions about iron supplements…

Iron supplementation is confusing and there is no shortage of information of dubious value and quality out there in "Internet-land". Conventional doctors often have little knowledge or training in anything other than what the drug companies have to offer – and they commonly deal with the constipation caused by their prescriptions for "nails-in-a-pill" by simply issuing yet another prescription for a laxative…

Valerie recently wrote this letter to Dr. Myatt:


Hope everyone there is having a good and healthful day.

My name is Valerie and my dermatologist says my Ferritin is 38 and she’d like to see me at around 70-75.

She is prescribing 395 mg of iron per day and wants me to take that dosage for 3 months. She has recommended Feosol – a popular over the counter iron.

For the last two years I have been taking one tablet of Every Woman’s Iron Support by New Chapter Organics.  It’s called a ‘whole food’.  It offers among other vitamins and minerals 9 mg of iron.  I don’t know if this is important but it also contains 900 mcg of folate.  I have never had any trouble with constipation at this dosage.

In an attempt to up my iron intake and in an effort to finish off the bottle before I purchase something new and different, I’ve started taking 2 a day for a week, increased to 3 a day for a week and now 4 a day for the last 2 days.  Now I’m constipated.  Nowhere on the bottle does it say heme or non-heme.

Apparently, the best I can get out of 6 Energizing Iron softgels is 150mg (they do come in soft gel, right?).  I can’t bear the thought of swallowing 6 more pills a day anyways, and certainly not 18.

And the scariest part of all is a medical website I just saw that said non-constipating iron can lead to liver disease.  Google non-constipating iron if you want to see that for yourself.

Have you any suggestions or comments about all this for me?

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Valerie in Illinois

[Nurse Mark notes: I followed Valerie’s suggestion and searched the internet for this information – the best I can find refers to a single 1973 Lancet Medical Journal article, quoted and referenced many, many times on the internet, in which a researcher discusses an esoteric study of "oxyphenisatin-induced liver damage in chronic non-alcoholic liver disease". As I mentioned in the introduction to this exchange, the internet can be a misleading and frightening place! Articles such as these are often seized upon and exploited by Big Pharma in their quest to discredit anything that is not their own patented offering.]

Dr. Myatt replies:

Hi Valerie:

As you can understand, I can’t give precise medical advice to someone who is not a patient, so these are general comments.

Swallowing iron pills is like eating nails to get your iron levels up. "Elemental iron" is difficult to assimilate. That is "non-heme" iron. "Heme iron" is the type of iron found in red meat. It is easy to assimilate, non-constipating and tends to have a much more profound effect on iron levels even at very small doses. This is all explained on our website:

I don’t know what form of iron you found as "non constipating iron," but there is no association between liquid liver and liver disease that I have ever seen in the medical literature, so the article you found is referring to something else. What does exist is a correlation between too much storage iron (ferritin) and liver disease, and we’re not sure which comes first. With your ferritin levels being low, this really isn’t your problem.

If you can’t swallow capsules (that’s a "mindset problem," not a real problem if you are swallowing food OK), you could always put the caps in a blender along with a drink. I’d try a chocolate Super Shake as an easy way to take the caps. They’ll break apart in the blender. They have a small taste but not ugly and this should be masked by the shake.

Let me know how it goes!

In Health,

Dr. Myatt

P.S. – Just last week I got the medical reports back on an elderly patient who has been low ferritin for a long time. They’ve had him on "epo" and medical iron for ages, to no avail. Since he’s been on the liquid liver (aka "energizing iron") his counts are back up in the normal range.

We also had a young lady of menstrual age start using the liquid liver. (She is not a patient but communicated with me via email, like you). After two months, she emailed to order more liquid liver and tell me that her iron stores were up in the normal range for the first time in a long while. Needless to say, her local doc is pleased and so is she!

[Nurse Mark notes: "Epo" is a common term for Erythropoietin – a synthetic hormone that prevents anemia (low blood count) by helping you make red blood cells – this drug is given by injection.]

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