The Causes and Treatment of Chronic Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is a common problem in Australia, even though there is a lot of food and calories.

A low iron intake most often causes iron deficiency. However, some individuals struggle to get enough iron despite taking iron tablets. This is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the clinic. I thought I would give you a brief overview of chronic iron deficiency and the treatment options.


Iron deficiency can take many forms. As iron stores decrease, the severity of symptoms increases. An experienced physician can diagnose iron deficiency if several of these symptoms are present. However, self-diagnosis and self-prescription of iron supplements are not recommended, as other causes, such as chronic infections and malignancies, could exist.

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Poor immunity
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Cold feet and hands
  • Slow mental and physical growth in children
  • Children especially have a poor appetite
  • A sore tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • You crave unusual foods such as dirt or ice


Diet: Lack of iron-rich foods is the most common reason. Many people believe that eating chicken will satisfy their iron requirements, but this is not true for pregnant women.

Low iron absorption: IBS, coeliac disease (diagnosed or not), gluten intolerance, small intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, IBS, IBS, low stomach acid and aging can all contribute to poor iron absorption.

Chronic blood loss: fibroids, endometriosis and Crohn’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Crohn’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Haemorrhoids can all lead to chronic blood loss which will affect the body’s iron reserves.

An increase in iron requirements: Children, regular exercise, pregnancy, lactation and chronic infections all contribute to an increased body’s need for iron.


Good quality foods are more absorbable than supplements. Many people receive a list of foods that contain iron but don’t know that some iron-rich foods have anti-nutrients or forms that greatly decrease their absorption.

Red meats: Red meats such as pork, lamb, and beef are the richest sources of dietary iron. We don’t recommend eating much red meat daily, but having 2-3 meals a week will help you replenish your iron stores. Although chicken and fish contain iron, it is not in large quantities.

Beans, lentils, and dark green leafy vegetables: Vegetarians, such as spinach, silverbeet, or pulses, are often labeled iron-rich, but they contain a non-absorbable iron called non-heme. This is in contrast to the absorbable iron found in red meat.

There are several ways to increase vegetarian iron absorption. The absorption of non-heme iron will be greatly improved by eating just one tbsp red meat and one tbsp vegetarian iron source such as spinach or lentils. You can also eat lemons or other vitamin-rich foods at the same moment. This could come in the form of a lemon vinaigrette or a squeeze of orange or lemon in water to accompany your meal.

Iron pots and pans: This is not an old wives’ tale. Iron pots can increase your iron intake. Although iron is not in absorbable heme, it can certainly increase your iron intake, especially if you add a little lemon juice to your food after cooking (not in an iron pan).

Dr. Christopher Charles solved the iron deficiency anemia in a Cambodian village by inventing a clever solution. He designed an iron that implemented the fish size and asked the villagers to use it in their cooking pots for at most ten minutes. Then, he removed it and added some lemon juice to the dish. After introducing iron fish, 75% of the village’s iron deficiency was gone.

Prebiotics It is becoming clear that inulin (a form of soluble fiber found in onions, Jerusalem Artichokes, and garlic) alters the expression of iron transporter proteins in the stomach, increasing iron absorption in the small intestine. 

Treat any gut problems: Parasites and unbalanced gut flora can eat any iron that finds its way into your stomach and use it to create protective biofilms. A chronic, unresponsive iron deficiency can signify a problem in your intestinal system.


For several reasons, I don’t recommend the self-prescription of iron tablets. Iron is a strong pro-oxidant. This means that it oxidizes quickly in the body and can cause inflammation. Iron is also a source of nutrition for bacteria, so if there’s a chronic condition you don’t know about, you could feed the pathogens. About 1 in 300 Australians have the hemochromatosis (HFE C282Y, or H63D) gene. This condition in which the body has too much iron causes severe tissue and organ damage.

I wouldn’t say I like the idea of taking over-the-counter iron supplements. Many people have experienced constipation, nausea, and decreased iron levels. Iron IV infusions are the same. Many people experience severe headaches and malaise after receiving IV iron infusions. Please remember that IV infusions can cause massive oxidative stress.

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