Pregnancy Projects: Anemia

One of the most carefully monitored aspects of pregnancy is a healthy blood supply. It can be very frustrating for women who chronically struggle to keep those numbers where they need to be. There are a lot of good dietary modifications that can be taken and for women who have “borderline” issues they may be sufficient to reverse an iron deficiency.

Some women can follow allll the dietary recommendations; Choke down Spinach salads and fresh juiced greens 3x a day, cook their grass-fed red meat and everything else on cast iron, drink herbal teas and gag down liver. (Yup, seriously, liver. Kudos to any pregnant woman who is able to eat liver *and* keep it down.) and still not see the numbers budge very much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking amping up all the iron that you can via diet in pregnancy just being honest about the reality that it may not be enough for some women.

If you are dealing with a case of anemia that is not responding to diet improvements it may be time to bring in some serious supplements. Supplementing with *most* iron supplements on the market = constipation and other side effects which can be a whole ‘nother pregnancy nightmare. Not to mention that iron in prescription form are often not very bioavailable. Soooo, short of having iron clad poops many peoples bodies do not respond well to pure iron supplements/prescriptions as far as seeing the bloodwork numbers get up where they need to be.

First of all, in my experience researching and talking to women and hearing what has worked and what hasn’t worked over several years now it seems like the most effective course of action is a multi-front attack. One of the most common mistakes I see women make in trying to reverse a low iron problem is to tackle it with only supplements or only diet. The most effective is to increase the iron intake in the diet from both plant and animal whole food sources to go along with quality iron rich supplements.

On the supplement front there are only three that I would personally recommend simply because these three, or some combination of the three are the only ones that seem to consistently produce fast and effective results for women who really need significant improvement.

1) Spirulina is a single-celled fresh water, blue-green algae that has been seen in history to be used as a staple in diets and is known to provide nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin B-12, iron, and chlorophyll, as well as RNA, DNA and important GLA fatty acids. Although unusually high in iron for a whole food supplement it does not contain a sufficient amount of iron in and of itself to correct a significant deficiency without other sources being present for the body to utilize. However, part of it’s magic and efficacy when used seems to be in how it enables the body to absorb and utilize iron that is being consumed via diet and other supplements. This is the single best iron-enhancement-absorption aid product I am personally familiar with. You can purchase it in a loose powder and add it to smoothies or slug it down in water or juice. Consider yourself forewarned: It tastes and smells like fishfood. For this reason I personally prefer tablets because they are far easier on the tastebuds to get down.

A side comment on Spirulina quality control: This is a product that is very vulnerable to environmental contaminants. Unfortunately buying it “Cerified Organic” is less than ideal because in order to meet the stringent certification processes the Spirulina has to be grown in an artifical environment. The Spirulina produced from this certified organic growing operation has less nutritional and mineral content than it’s wild-ocean grown counterpart. The solution is to make sure that the Spirulina you purchase is batch-harvest tested for heavy metals, environmental toxins etc. as it is harvested. Hawaii is considered one of the purest and safest sources for Spirulina. The two resources I link to above are “safe” sources I have already personally vetted out. Wanted to pass the quality control info along though so you can be an informed consumer if you shop for it from other venues and companies.

2) Liquid Chlorophyll This liquid green goodness is a powerhouse of multi function benefit to the body. Rich in magnesium, iron, protein, potassium, calcium, Vit. E. Phosphorus, zinc and a slew of other essential nutrients it is a jack of all trades in providing nutrient based healing resources for the body. Chlorophyll helps to stimulate the red blood cells, and improves oxygen circulation in the blood. It aids in the rapid delivery of magnesium, a highly alkalizing effect that helps the blood to transport oxygen to the cells and tissues of the body. Liquid chlorophyll also possesses anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The primary benefit to a person struggling with anemia is that it directly supports the production of hemoglobin. As a very safe, non-toxic supplement this can be taken as often as needed.

I did a short video demonstrating how I have used liquid Chlorophyll in this pregnancy.

3) Encapsulated/Dessicated Liver You know how I mentioned before that I have the utmost respect for any pregnant woman who is able to down liver in it’s cooked form? Well, for those of us who are not able to summon the will-power to overcome the pregnancy gag reflex at the very thought there is another option. Dessicated liver in capsules can allow you to get it down without having to eat or smell it. Some of you may be wondering, why is liver good to help with anemia? The simple answer is that most animals bodies “store” extra iron reserves in their liver making it one of the most iron rich parts of their bodies to eat. It is also a form of iron that seems to be easily assimilated by most. This “Animal” based of iron for whatever reason seems to work especially well in women who have not noticed improvement with their plant based iron-increasing measures. Supplementing with liver as an addition to other supplements is a really good idea for anybody who needs a multi-front-rapid iron improvement.

Now, because we are talking about liver, one of the major filtration systems of the body it is very important to make sure that *any* source you get of it is as pure as possible. You want grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free and a company that sources well and does quality control testing.

That pretty much sums up what I know about supplementing for anemia in pregnancy. It’s a topic I want to continue to research because it seems to be an increasingly common problem for many women.

2 thoughts on “Pregnancy Projects: Anemia

  1. Great info, Stephanie! I suffered from anemia especially during my last two pregnancies, and the midwife told me to take tablespoonfuls of unsulphured molasses (yuck!). It might’ve helped a little bit, but I wish I’d known all you put here back then. Also, I think it bears mentioning that some new mommies who might not even have had anemia trouble before the birth might have it afterwards due to delivery complications (like I had big-time after our last baby). So all your recommendations can definitely carry over to then as well! Those iron supplements the doctors give us are barely absorbable and having constipation issues post-birth can be more painful than having a baby!

  2. Thanks for the great article, Stephanie! I appreciated the info about spirulina, including the sourcing info. I’ve suffered iron deficiency anemia for the past several years, whether pregnant or not, but it is definitely worse in pregnancy as the baby takes all you’ve got (if you barely have any). I’ve tried all you mentioned above save the spirulina, and have only found my ferritin move more than a few points after iron IVs. I still do all the iron skillets, grassfed beef and liver, greens, etc. because it’s good for me in other ways, but I’m grateful to have a doc who says enough is enough, injecting it in my arm is the way to go.
    My theory on this is that I’m currently not able to absorb this iron properly, either because of a damaged gut wall, or lack of proper enzymes needed to conversion/digestion/absorption.
    I’m currently doing the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to help with gut repair, (my son was prescribed to do it as well, so I have the whole family eating this way, with the little guys also getting some things not allowed on the diet, like uncultured milk). I’m feeling good in pregnancy on this diet, and I’m hopeful that some things may be corrected which haven’t responded to other measures (like iron absorption).
    Otherwise, I’m pretty excited to be able to get enough iron through IVs. The brand my Dr. uses is Fehrlecit (sp?) which is a newer product than the “old” form of iron which evidently had a lot of reactions from patients.
    Oh…and I’ll have to blog making a liver pate’…don’t puke, it’s actually delicious. At least I think so. And I don’t like liver.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s