Chronic anemia

Geritol ad from the 1950s from Vintage Ad Browser.

As I wrote previously (in Koilonychia and Spoon nails redux) I’ve had trouble with my iron levels essentially since I was a child, when I was placed on a doctor-ordered regimen of Geritol. (I was about 9 years old.)

It has cropped up periodically, most recently when I had my pulmonary embolism in 2000. Then I had to take iron supplements for months just to bring my iron level up to the very low end of normal. (I can’t remember what the actual value range was but I believe 4 was considered the low end of normal and I was below 2.) I’m fairly confident it hasn’t risen a great deal since then — I’ve been avoiding my family doctor since about 2003 or so but none of the suspected causes of my anemia have really changed so it’s unlikely that the anemia has disappeared. (Note to self: Take that blood test requisition form you have and go get the tests done.)

I don’t know the precise cause of the chronic anemia. I presume it’s a combination of a lifetime of fussy eating (including general, though non-deliberate, avoidance of iron-rich foods) and heavy periods throughout my adult life. I doubt there is any kind of a familial tendency (not that there are any recognized genetic causes of iron-deficiency anemia) — my great aunt and my sister both suffer(ed) from pernicious anemia but I don’t know of anyone in my family who had iron-deficiency anemia except for me; then again I am usually the odd one out in my family.

Back when I’d first posted about anemia and koilonychia a year and a half ago, I’d half-heartedly experimented with taking my multi-vitamin supplements. It had some beneficial effect on my nails, but, unfortunately, I stopped taking the supplements shortly after that and saw the resumption of nail problems including the koilonychia. Recently I’ve become more and more aware of how terrible I feel and I think much of that is down to the continued chronic anemia: fatigue, sleepiness, palpitations or tachycardia, hair loss, dizziness, breathlessness, twitchy muscles (this has been bothering me more and more over the last few months), tingling or numbness (also a growing problem), messed up menstrual cycles, nail issues like koilonychia, and itchiness (even with massive antihistamine usage, I am itchy all the time).

So this time, instead of relying on a multi-vitamin, I’ve ordered a (fairly low 25 mg dose) iron supplement from (my favourite drug store, frequently with lower prices than you’d find in a local drug store). I’ll have two-month’s supply from the one bottle I’ve ordered so I’ll give it a try for that amount of time and see if I notice any appreciable difference in the symptoms. In the meantime, I’ll also try to find that blood test requisition slip (it’s tucked inside of a book that I can’t locate right now) and get them done. Probably long past time that I sorted out what other issues I have. (I suspect diabetes is one of them, but I haven’t been willing to find out for sure up to this point, partly because I just can’t afford regular prescription medication right now.)


Vitamins and supplements

Dr. Weil rcommends his own vitamin supplements (big surprise).

His recommended supplements include:

  • multivitamin (vitamin E, coenzyme Q 10, vitamin A, astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, lutein, lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene, b-complex, folic acid, bioflavonoids, choline, inositol, and rutin);
  • omega-3 fatty acids (breast issues, heart);
  • vitamin C (environmental);
  • glucosamine sulfate (joints);
  • horse chestnut seed (aescin; supposed to help increase the tone of the blood vessel walls and may possibly help reduce edema; 40-120 mg daily);
  • siberian ginseng, cordyceps (a fungus), ashwaganda for energy;
  • astragalus, polypore mushrooms for immune support;
  • magnesium (prevents migraines);
  • st. johns wort, B6 and folic acid for mood;
  • gingko biloba and DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) for brain function;
  • Ester-C for circulation;
  • evening primrose for PMS support.

(struck items are not items I’m willing to take at this time — both st. johns wort and gingko biloba gave me unpleasant reactions the last time I tried to take them, ester C is a type of vitamin C, and mushrooms just ain’t gonna happen even in pill form)

Supplements I currently have on-hand and could/should be taking:

  • flax seed (1000 mg per capsule; cold pressed, certified organic; a-Linolenic acid or ALA and linoleic acid, an omega-6);
  • wild salmon and fish oils (1000 mg per capsule);
  • evening primrose (500 mg per capsule);  
  • multivitamin, natural source (beta carotene 10000 IU, vitamin A 1000 IU, vitamin E 50 IU, vitamin C 150 mg, folic acid .8 mg, vitamin B1 or thiamine 25 mg, vitamin B2 or riboflavin 25 mg, vitamin B6 or pyridoxine 25 mg, vitamin B12 25 mcg, vitamin D 400 IU, biotin 25 mcg, pantothenic acid 25 mg, choline 25 mg, inositol 25 mg, di-methonine 25 mg, calcium 130 mg, iodine .1 mg, iron 15 mg, magnesium 65 mg, copper 1 mg, manganese 2 mg, potassium 15 mg, zinc 10 mg, chromium 20 mcg, molybdenum 20 mcg, selenium 20 mcg, vanadium 20 mcg, lutein .25 mg) ;
  • glucosamine and chondroitin;
  • calcium (333mg), magnesium (167mg), vitamin D (133 IU);
  • vitamin C (500mg), wild blueberry (30mg), rutin (1.4mg), hesperidin complex (1.4mg), lemon bioflavonoids (1.4mg), acerola cherry fruit (1.4mg), rosehips (1.4mg);
  • B100;
  • fibre