Iron Anaemia Not Resolving? Try Vitamin A

English: Peripheral blood film of a patient wi...

English: Peripheral blood film of a patient with iron deficiency anemia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I see many people who have low iron and who can’t seem to get their iron levels up even when on supplements. Most of the time this is because they have been given rubbish iron as ferrous sulphate, which drives me nutty because you have to take shed-loads of this constipating form to actually get any benefits to iron levels. I usually advise a swap to a ferrous gluconate, citrate, fumarate or bisglycinate instead. In fact, any form has got to be better than sulphate!

However, some people even on the more absorbable forms can’t get their iron up and continue to feel the horrid fatigue and breathlessness effects of iron deficiency anaemia. In that case, it might then be worth looking at adding Vitamin A.

Eh? I thought it was Vitamin C I needed?

Well, yes, people usually do know that Vitamin C taken at the same time as the iron helps absorption, but Vitamin A is a good addition too. Vitamin A is required for the effective use of iron in the body and sometimes it is a Vitamin A deficiency that is at the heart of the problem. Here’s a little bit from the Linus Pauling Institute on it, for example, and I’ve left the references in so you can follow them if you wish:


Vitamin A deficiency may exacerbate iron-deficiency anemia. Vitamin A supplementation has beneficial effects on iron deficiency anemia and improves iron nutritional status among children and pregnant women. The combination of supplemental vitamin A and iron seems to reduce anemia more effectively than either supplemental iron or vitamin A alone (11). Moreover, studies in rats have shown that iron deficiency alters plasma and liver levels of vitamin A (12, 13).

You can read the full paper from them on Vitamin A here too. There is also a new study out, bit technical as it is focusing on the mechanism of why Vitamin A helps iron deficiency anaemia, but says the same thing in effect. You can read the abstract here:

Vitamin A deficiency modulates iron metabolism via ineffective erythropoiesis.

You can even get iron complexed with Vitamin A and Vitamin C, like this one, or you can take them as separate products.

To test Vitamin A, I find this Vitamin Profile useful; it also tests Vitamin C levels so might be a useful one to do if you’re struggling with your iron levels. And, if you need a good Anaemia test, this one does active folate and B12 as well as ESR, which is crucial for interpreting your ferritin results correctly.

Good tip anyway; hope it helps.

Perfect Body Composition, By Accident!

English: Illustration of obesity and waist cir...

English: Illustration of obesity and waist circumference From left to right, as labeled in the original image, the “healthy” man has a 33 inch (84 cm) waist, the “overweight” man a 45 inch (114 cm) waist, and the “obese” man a 60 inch (152cm) waist. (image source) (image reference) Source: Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2000. Infographic: FDA/Renée Gordon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


As many of you know, I have been following quite a strict allergy diet for the last couple of years which is loosely Paleo-based, but a lot stricter. Currently, I eat loads of fish, healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and coconut oil, and tons of fruit and veg so quite balanced actually protein, fat and carb-wise, if a little limiting! Nothing else. No grains, legumes, nuts, seeds or meat.

Anyway, I decided this week to have a try on my Innerscan machine – the one I used to use in-clinic for those of you remember standing on it in the dispensary! Ok, it’s not perfect but I reckoned it would give me a good idea how I am getting along. So, here are my results. Very pleased with them I am too. I am showing you these to prove that you can get a perfect body composition with the right diet if you stick at it long enough – even if I have done it by accident as I wasn’t consciously trying.


Weight: perfect for my diminutive height at just under 8 and a half stone. I am now a size 8-10, where I was a 14  three years ago.


Bodyfat 25%. In healthy range for my age group, could actually do with being a bit higher, which can be useful for hormone production as we approach menopausal age (aargh!). More avocados and olives for me! Incidentally, 5 years ago, this was 36% and I couldn’t seem to shift it no matter what I did! Has certainly shifted now: an 11% drop!


Visceral fat (the yellow stuff around your abdomen that is the really harmful stuff) is 4. Healthy range is under 12 so happy with that. It was always under 12, but more in the 7-9 range so this is a good drop too.


Bear in mind with the fat scores here that I am actually eating a lot of fat day to day, mainly as olive oil, avocados, oily fish (4-5 x week)  and coconut oil, so this adds fuel to the argument that the issue with fat is where it comes from, not how much you are eating really; something I have always believed. Choose good sources and eat plenty of it – see the effect this has had on my hydration levels next, too…


Water 52%. This is an interesting one. For women, it should be 50-55%, men 60-65%. I could never get it over 45% before and I used to drink water like a fish. I can only conclude that my fatty acid levels are good enough now to metabolise water well enough. Most people with poor fatty acid levels find it difficult to stay hydrated. My increased good-fat intake I think may have helped here.


Muscle level. I am rated 5, ‘standard’ for my age/height etc. That’s good – you can go from 1 (hidden obese) to 9 (very muscular). 5 is exactly in the middle, hence the term ‘standard’. I used to be classed as ‘3 Solidly-built’ or ‘2 Obese’ even at my worst times, so this is a great shift too.


Bone mass is 4.6lb which is almost spot-on for my weight. If you weigh less than 110lb, it should be average 4.3lb; if 110-165lb, it should be 5.3lb; 165lb and over, it should be 6.5lb plus. My weight is 119lb currently so I think 4.6lb is OK, maybe could do with raising a little bit. To be honest, I thought it would be a lot less than that as I am computer-glued most of the day and don’t get anywhere near enough weight-bearing exercise currently.


Lastly, my metabolic age is calculated at 22! In other words, given all those statistics, my body thinks I am 22. What fun!


Makes me feel a whole lot better about being on a restricted diet, I can tell you!

The lesson we can learn in terms of weight loss, body composition etc is that you can do it and it takes time and effort, but look at what results you can achieve, even if you’re not thinking about it or consciously trying to diet. In fact, better if you’re not.

Low GL diet, highish protein, good levels of healthy fats, your carbs from fruit and veg, eat loads and see it as a way of life, which is what I do. I’m not saying that will work for everyone, or that I want people to be as restricted as me (heaven forbid), but the principles are good ones if you need to improve your body composition.

I do also have to point out that removing my allergens has drastically reduced my inflammatory levels too and I have always believed that a lot of the weight people are carrying around is actually inflammation-based swelling which, quite often, will not go until long enough off your specific allergens. I remember the day about 9 months after I gave up grains (my personal bete-noir), I woke up one morning and realised my wrists were back! I promise, it was that sudden. One minute fat around my bones, next gone. I assume the inflammation dropped sufficiently and I no longer needed the water-swelling protection (think of the swelling and redness you get when you cut your knee, for example: it goes when you have scabbed over and healed the skin underneath.) A theory anyway, but I like it.

Want to see how you’re doing? You can read the Weight Loss Factsheet on the site here and scroll down to Resources to find the machine I used. Use the various diet pointers there too for where to start: the Detox or the Belly Fat progammes.

Good luck! May your clothes all be tiny ones…!

Ginger As Effective For Migraine

As a sufferer of migraine, I am always on the look-out for what can help, especially since I can’t tolerate any drugs! So, I was pleased to see this study suggesting that ginger powder was equally effective as a usual triptan medicine. Have a read:

Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine.

I can’t access the full text of the study so can’t see how much they used – anyone? However, in my references, I found this:

Fresh ginger (dosage approximately 10 g per day [1/4-inch slice]) and ginger extracts standardized to contain 20% of gingerol and shogaol (dosage 100-200 mg three times per day) may be the most effective as the most active anti-inflammatory components of ginger are found in these preparations.

In terms of products to match that, Lamberts do a standardised to 24% gingerol product and they say to equal the advice above, you would need to take  3 per day, although they do advise 1 per day unless advised to take more.

For those who need a TGF product, Higher Nature do this one, standardised to only 5% gingerols though so you would need to take quite a bit to get the same level (more label etc info here).

 Or go for the 1/4 inch slice, of course! here’s a good ginger tea recipe for you – it can act as a base for adding lots of wonderful things, as you can see.

Here’s to migraine-free lives!

Post Menopause: Eat Bananas, Salmon and Sweet Potato To Cut Stroke Risk

Cavendish bananas are the main commercial bana...

Cavendish bananas are the main commercial banana cultivars sold in the world market. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hot on the heels of my salmony lunch recipe today is a good reason to eat more of it, especially if you are post-menopausal:

New research has found that potassium-rich foods such as bananas may cut the risk of having a stroke by as much as a quarter.  This was a large-scale study conducted for around 11 years, involving 90,137 post-menopausal women, aged 50-79.  All women were stroke-free at the start of the study and their average potassium intake was 2,611mg per day.  (The World Health Organisation recommends women consume at least 3,510mg potassium per day, and only 16.6% of the women studied met or exceeded that amount.)

The study, published in the American Heart Association Journal, found that the women who ate the most dietary potassium were 12% less likely to suffer strokes in general and 16% less likely to suffer an ischaemic stroke (where blood to the brain is cut off) than women who ate the least.   In addition, the women who ate the most potassium were 10% less likely to die prematurely than those who ate the least.

In addition to bananas, other potassium-rich foods include white beans, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables and salmon.

Source: Natural Health Practice enews Sep 14

Salmon Rice or Egg Pancake Rolls

Yummy lunch recipe for you today – a great way to get extra Omega 3-rich fish into your diet. If you haven’t any rice pancakes, you could use a thin egg omelette as a wrap instead.


Omega 3-Rich Salmon Rolls
   Serves 4

You will need:

4 salmon fillet steaks (organic)
1 cucumber
4-6 spring onions
Large handful of bean sprouts
8-10 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 inch ginger root (grated)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
Approx 16 rice pancakes (or equivalent in large lettuce leaves)


1.    Steam or poach the salmon; when it is cooked, roughly break it up with a fork and leave to cool in a serving bowl.
2.    Slice the cucumber and spring onions into long thin strips and arrange with the bean sprouts on a serving plate.  Sprinkle with sunflower seeds.
3.    Mix the tamari or soy sauce, grated ginger and sesame oil in two small serving bowls.  Prepare the pancakes as directed on the packet.
4.    Using your hands, roll some salmon and vegetables in a pancake (or large lettuce leaf).  Dip into the sauce and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from:

The Kitchen Shrink – Food and Recipes for a Healthy Mind by Natalie Savona, source Nutri E News Sep 14

Fructose Intolerance – A Primer

Useful new primer from Janice Joneja on fructose intolerance today for you, courtesy of FoodsMatter.

I have also added a new section to the Allergy Types area of the Health A-Z here for you.

Hope it helps.


Genova Tests: Get In Before Price Increase!

Just received a new price list for Genova tests effective from 1st October. So, if you are planning eg. Adrenal or Thyroid tests, it might be a good idea to get in quick before I have to put them up! Most Genova tests seem to be going up by a few pounds but some by over £10. The most popular ones we do from them are:

Adrenal Stress

Comprehensive Adrenal

Thyroid Plus

Rhythm Female Hormones

The allergy ones especially IgG Food Panel


Metabolic Analysis

Osteoporosis Risk

Male Hormones Panel

Oestrogen Metabolism

Every little helps and all that…