Female Runners & Anemia

Over the past few years I have had occasional bouts of low ferritin stores and/or anemia.  Historically I don’t do well with iron supplements, so I try to focus on getting my iron from the foods that I eat.  Those with Celiac Disease can be at risk for anemia, in addition to women being at higher risk due to heavy menstruation.  During my physical last fall I discovered that my ferritin stores were once again low.  This time they weren’t below normal, but they were at the very bottom side of normal.  This concerned my physician because he said they see a higher incidence of stress fractures in women with low/normal ferritin stores.  Crap!  I have been down that path and I don’t want to go down it again

I immediately began taking an iron supplement, one that was previously okay with my stomach, only to find out that it was causing diarrhea.  After consulting with my physician, we agreed to try a diet full of iron-rich foods for 2 months and then recheck my blood work.  In addition to eating more read meat, I added in more beans and citrus with my spinach salads, tried tofu stir-fries and did all of the above consistently.  Where I had been in the habit of getting only protein or beans at Chipotle, I began getting steak and black beans.  I added raisins to every salad.  I really worked hard to avoid having to take supplements that were sure to make me sick.

The results are in…

November 2012:

January 2013:

  • Ferritin – 16
  • Hematocrit – 41.8
  • Hemoglobin – 13.9

Now the key is maintaining that improvement.  I should send myself a reminder with a link to this post to read once a week so that I keep on top of it. 

Have you ever been anemic?  What are some of your favorite iron-rich foods?

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