So You Think You Know How to Treat Iron Deficiency?

And then you don’t, right? Because if my experience is anything to go by, there are some patients that just don’t respond to the usual iron repletion strategies. Depending on how low their ferritin is, this can then precipitate ‘practitioner panic’ (we’ve all had it right?!) where we’re inclined to go higher & higher with the dose and number of doses per day. Typically, this also fails. I hear about this from other practitioners all the time and I see the ‘normal’ doses of iron sneaking up and up.  Remember the days when we couldn’t get a non-pharmacy supplement with over 5mg elemental iron in it and now we have > 20mg?  But still, I hear you say, this fades into insignificance when you think about the standard medical model for iron correction which provides 100-200mg/day and you’re right. 

Gee… after hundreds of years of knowing about this deficiency and being the most common deficiency word-wide, you’d think we had our supplemental regime nailed.  

But that’s where you’d be wrong. (more…)

Can You Diagnose This Deficiency?

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While I did diagnose this one correctly, I didn’t get 100% in this quiz – Can you? Speaking of the devil, Medscape, has this great little visual quiz to test your knowledge about physical signs & other hidden clues of nutritional deficiencies.

While we all know there can be a lack of specificity when it comes to some deficiency signs…like glossitis…eyeyiyi..naming a nutritional deficiency that doesn’t include this sign would be a tougher question 😉 but what a great reminder of some quirky things you may have forgotten or in fact deficiency features you may not have even known about.

A gem I love and apply frequently, is about zinc the ALP levels…watch out for the that later in the slideshow quiz.

Also note the distinct difference in opinion when it comes to vitamin D adequacy – with Medscape citing blood vitamin D result < 75 nmol/L unequivocally associated with osteoporotic change…in contrast to the …’anything over 50 nmol/L is a bonus’ line we’re being fed here in Aus and NZ! While we may not ever see some of these severe deficiency presentations walking through our doors – you can’t be so sure…given the reported resurfacing of scurvy in good ol’ Sydney just last year!

Is it just me?  I love going back to nutrition 101.  So tomorrow with your cuppa…test yourself and then let us know how you go 😉

Are you keen to keep developing your naturopathic knowledge in areas of diagnostics and nutrition?  Rachel has a range of services that can help accelerate your learning. From the long list of great downloadable recordings in the store, that help fill your ‘knowledge potholes’ in a fun and engaging way that really brings these topics to life, to our Update in Under 30 Subscription: 30 mins of power-packed up-skilling delivered to your inbox every month, as well as our individual and group mentoring programs!  There’s content galore and a delivery format to suit every clinician – come check out what’s on offer.

With or Withania You?

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Cheesy I know! 😉  However, recently the issue of knowing when to use Withania somnifera & when not to, came up again in mentoring so I thought it’s probably a good one to share.  Withania, aka Aswagandha or Indian Ginseng, has become a favourite adaptogenic prescription for many practitioners, myself included.  I remember learning specifically (about a million years ago!!) that this herb is ‘warming’ & ‘nourishing’, thanks in part to its iron content. In a traditional medicine context, it’s used for those particularly vulnerable populations such as children, the pregnant, the elderly and the malnourished, boiled in milk as a tonic.  These ideas always stayed with me, and lead me to only use Withania in similar patients and presentations with good results. (more…)

I need a (Local) Hero!

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Well here’s a thought…the ‘Superfood’ nutrition movement has just about eaten the South Americans out of quinoa and the Pacific Islanders out of coconuts..isn’t it time for a local hero?  I get a bit despondent when any new food is touted as a ‘Superfood’ anyway for all the obvious reasons but this is heavily compounded when this so-called ‘Superfood’ and the bankable gross exploitation of this foodstuff comes at a huge cost: whether that be in terms of food-miles, another population’s access to their food staple or the radical change in land management in these countries that often follows, e.g. think palm oil plantations.

“I need a (Local) Hero!” – cue Bonnie Tyler soundtrack & wind machine 🙂

(more…)

Do We Need to Relearn Something Old about Addressing Iron Deficiency?

 

These days it seems like patients can almost be divided into two groups: those that have a tendency to iron overload and those that struggle most of their lives just to keep ferritin in the red…and what a struggle it can be. So many clients have spent years taking every form of iron there is in high doses, trying to improve their intake of dietary sources, working on their digestion etc etc but still those numbers can fail to really pick up. (more…)

Recognising A Tendency to Iron Overload Earlier

We’ve just had another mentoring case in which a 40 something female with deficiencies of almost all other minerals but ‘pretty normal ferritin levels’  presented with a range of endocrine problems and arthralgia.  Sounds as if iron’s not the problem right?  Except that in this case her iron studies also tell us that her transferrin saturation % on last check was 48%.  The diagnostic criteria for hereditary haemachromatosis  (HH) necessitates elevated ferritin – to indicate that the iron stores are reaching saturation, however, while this becomes evident at relatively young ages in men (20s-40s), who have no specific excretory pathway for iron, is this still appropriate in menstruating female, whose monthly periods may mask the HH tendency with regard to ferritin?  I’m guessing you know what my answer is already! 😉

Some would argue that HH, in spite of being an inherited disorder, is only clinically meaningful once the ferritin is elevated ( earlier and more potent elevations are seen in people possessing the C282Y genotype) but again this is very much up for debate in the current scientific literature, with a lot of research concluding that the transferrin saturation (also referred to as the transferrin ratio) being an important prognostic indicator for various chronic diseases including CVD.

When we go back to basics and remember the higher the transferrin percentage the more iron is being delivered to tissues around the body (whether they like/want it or not! so we refer to this as being ‘iron dumping’) and the higher the serum iron, the more unbound iron is in the system – a key source of oxidative stress..it becomes patently clear that these two parameters are important early warning signs of a tendency to iron overload, increased risk of heavy metal toxicity and already active mineral imbalance.  So in future keep your eyes open for women with fasting transferrin saturation values that consistently sit above 35% and men, > 40% and if you do see a series of suspicious values – consider the genotype test through mainstream labs.