For many of us, anemia was the first clue that something was wrong. Whether or not we are celiacs, mommies, or both we all have an interest in keeping our iron levels normal. Once you become anemic, it can be so hard to get your iron stores back up! I became anemic at the end of my second pregnancy and worked very hard to get it back up before delivery. I was so successful in getting my iron back up in those last days of pregnancy that I wanted to share some of the things that helped me. I still keep these things in mind so I do not become anemic again. I know that many of you have suffered far greater than I have with anemia. If you have any advice that you would like to share, feel free to join in the conversation and leave a comment.
Remember these are just common sense tips- I am not a medical professional, just a gluten free mommy.
- First things first, I take a multivitamin. If I am pregnant or nursing (like right now) I take a prenatal vitamin instead. It took me a long time to find one that was gluten-free that I could swallow without wincing. It is important not to slack off about taking your vitamin. If you need your spouse to be the vitamin police, so be it! It worked for me.
- During my pregnancy, I took Liquid Herbal Iron instead of taking iron tablets. My midwife assured me it absorbed better than tablets and I would feel better in two weeks. Lo and behold, my iron was back up in exactly two weeks. So I highly recommend Liquid Herbal Iron. On a side note, I took mine in lemonade instead of juice because I thought it tasted a lot better.
- I also take Alfalfa Tablets– They are a good source of Vitamin K, which is not readily absorbed by those with celiac disease. I took alfalfa tablets throughout my pregnancy and continue to take them postpartum. Alfalfa tablets really do have an effect on the body, so make sure you consult your doctor. Some doctors would prefer their patients not to take alfalfa if they are pregnant (some think it may cause uterine tightening) or if they are taking aspirin or any other anticoagulant on a regular basis. However, my midwife touted its ability to help raise iron levels, reduce postpartum blood loss, and help with an inadequate milk supply. As always, make sure the tablets are gluten free.
- Exercise! Just a simple 15 minute walk to get your blood moving does wonders.
- I also added Brewer’s yeast (gluten free of course) to various foods I ate- This is a great source of the B vitamins, which are needed to absorb iron. Some people put Brewer’s yeast in juices or baked goods, but I prefer to put Brewer’s yeast in more savory dishes.
- Blackstrap Molasses is also a good supplement to increase iron stores. When placed head to head with red meat, it has the benefit of containing less calories and being fat-free.
- Eat some greens! Try kale, spinach, collard greens, bok choy, beat greens, or turnip greens. Once you learn to prepare these nutritious greens, they can be scrumptious as well as good for you.
- If you are not a vegetarian, try to include some red meat in your diet.
- Make sure you are getting the Vitamin C you need to sustain good health and absorb the iron you are taking. Drink orange juice in the morning instead of coffee. Having caffeine in your bloodstream could make it harder to absorb the iron you are taking.
- Eat a handful of nuts or add them to baked goods. They are a great source of protein and iron.