I see many people who have low iron and who can’t seem to get their iron levels up even when on supplements. Most of the time this is because they have been given rubbish iron as ferrous sulphate, which drives me nutty because you have to take shed-loads of this constipating form to actually get any benefits to iron levels. I usually advise a swap to a ferrous gluconate, citrate, fumarate or bisglycinate instead. In fact, any form has got to be better than sulphate!
However, some people even on the more absorbable forms can’t get their iron up and continue to feel the horrid fatigue and breathlessness effects of iron deficiency anaemia. In that case, it might then be worth looking at adding Vitamin A.
Eh? I thought it was Vitamin C I needed?
Well, yes, people usually do know that Vitamin C taken at the same time as the iron helps absorption, but Vitamin A is a good addition too. Vitamin A is required for the effective use of iron in the body and sometimes it is a Vitamin A deficiency that is at the heart of the problem. Here’s a little bit from the Linus Pauling Institute on it, for example, and I’ve left the references in so you can follow them if you wish:
Vitamin A deficiency may exacerbate iron-deficiency anemia. Vitamin A supplementation has beneficial effects on iron deficiency anemia and improves iron nutritional status among children and pregnant women. The combination of supplemental vitamin A and iron seems to reduce anemia more effectively than either supplemental iron or vitamin A alone (11). Moreover, studies in rats have shown that iron deficiency alters plasma and liver levels of vitamin A (12, 13).
You can read the full paper from them on Vitamin A here too. There is also a new study out, bit technical as it is focusing on the mechanism of why Vitamin A helps iron deficiency anaemia, but says the same thing in effect. You can read the abstract here:
You can even get iron complexed with Vitamin A and Vitamin C, like this one, or you can take them as separate products.
To test Vitamin A, I find this Vitamin Profile useful; it also tests Vitamin C levels so might be a useful one to do if you’re struggling with your iron levels. And, if you need a good Anaemia test, this one does active folate and B12 as well as ESR, which is crucial for interpreting your ferritin results correctly.
Good tip anyway; hope it helps.