When I deliver foundational nutrition training to GPs I talk tough. It’s a tough field, right? Compared with the relative certainty of pharmaceuticals, their established pharmacokinetics, their sophisticated delivery systems to ensure high bioavailability…trying to fix micronutrient deficiencies in patients can feel a lot like you’re trying to perform minor miracles. Take iron
for something different, its homeostasis pivots on its tight regulation at the gut wall – and this is a wall that is very tight!! At best you get about 10% of a supplement taken up, at worst you get none and the harder you push & the higher you go with your dose…the lower the fractional uptake. Tough stuff, right?!
It’s about at this point in my talk I read their collective minds and say, “I know, you’re thinking, oral supplementation is for suckers – what about we bypass that road block and use IV?!”
[Ok, I definitely use nicer words than this]
And then I put up a list of pros and cons about IV micronutrient repletion: ‘100% bioavailable’ & ‘Bypasses the body’s regulatory systems’, go on both! You see, time & time again we discover, when we think we’re outsmarting the body, it still manages to outsmart us. There are some exceptions to this – some nutrients (Vitamin C) and some contexts (late pregnancy iron deficiency) but the broader promise of ‘rapid replenishment’ for everyone, in your lunch break, via an IV infusion..is not realistic, responsible nor without risk. Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate of appropriate IV Fe use and have encouraged a small fraction of my patients to take this path. However, given the dramatic rise in prescriptions for this since 2013, I think it’s time to stop and seriously review each element: In reality what does it achieve and in whom is it a responsible recommendation; Was a risk benefit analysis performed for & communicated to each individual & was the remaining risk mitigated?
Think anaphylaxis is the major concern? It might be the most lethal but there are more serious concerns due to higher incidence with newer preparations.
So, how well do you know your different IV iron forms, and their predilection for potential problems? And have your answers ready to all the questions raised above? In order for all involved to make an informed choice (both practitioners and patients), we must.
You’re welcome 😉 and hey welcome back to tough talkin’ Tuesday…
The latest Update in Under 30 has landed!!!