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I am (not exactly) Iron Woman

Incidentally, turns out my hematocrit levels (that's "iron in the blood," if you don't watch TV hospital shows) are a shade on the low side--32%, when they should ideally be around 35% or 36%. Doesn't exactly count as anemia, or at least not to any alarming degree, but upping my iron intake may be in order.

Thing is, I already take the prenatal vitamin, which is packed with the stuff, so I'd rather not add on iron supplements. Preferably I can do this with diet. To avoid interfering with iron absorption, coffee and tea are out (seems to be due to tannins as much as caffeine), and vitamin C is in. Animal sources of iron are absorbed much more easily than vegetable sources, so eggs and meat are also in--but spinach and legumes and so forth couldn't hurt.

And here's my own independently thought-up idea: dark chocolate. I noticed on my container of Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa (Dutch-processed; we're talking the non-sweetened powder, for use as an ingredient) that one tablespoon of the cocoa has 15% of your RDA for iron. Now, they're probably going by the non-pregnant person's RDA, which is something like 18 mg/day--at least for women; men require less. Assuming that's the number they used, then one tablespoon of Special Dark Cocoa has 2.7 mg of iron. Beef tenderloin has about 1 mg per ounce. Oh, and also note that regular Hershey's Cocoa has only 4% of your iron per tablespoon, or 0.72 mg. So make it dark! The Special Dark variety also has the benefit of making your chocolate recipes turn out very nearly black. It's quite cool.

Thing is, how do I consume this lovely stuff without using milk? For calcium-rich foods also interfere with iron absorption. Well, one possibility is molasses, which is just about as iron-rich, tablespoon for tablespoon, as our Hershey Dark there. So maybe I make myself a little drink of hot water, cocoa, and molasses. Could throw in some spices for flavor. Hm. Would be better with hot milk, but doesn't sound too bad, all the same. Bottoms up.

P.S. Just be careful, since, as you know, molasses occasionally busts loose and goes on killing sprees.



( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 2nd, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC)
I'm also with my hematocrits down, well pregnancy does that and I've never been super iron woman, I'm always in the limit, so I have to take iron pills (which also have a lot of other nice stuff for me and the baby). The only thing bad with taking them is that you may have some trouble going to the bathroom (sorry, I forgot the right word :P), if you get me. Anyway, is not bad taking them, but without milk and all that you mentioned befor. I recommend you going to the doctor, cause having anemia later is very, very nasty (my mom suffered of it...)
Nov. 2nd, 2005 08:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'm sure it's only pregnancy-related with me too, since I've never had iron/anemia problems before. In any case, I'll be seeing the doctors anyway within a couple weeks, so I'm sure we'll talk about options then!
Nov. 2nd, 2005 10:56 pm (UTC)
BTW, how many weeks old are you???
Nov. 2nd, 2005 11:25 pm (UTC)
You mean how many weeks pregnant? About 28. How many weeks old I am would take the use of a calculator... :)
Nov. 3rd, 2005 12:36 am (UTC)
lol... well I knew you would sort that out.
I'm also around 28 ^^
Nov. 3rd, 2005 06:10 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! First one? (It's my first...)
Nov. 2nd, 2005 07:43 pm (UTC)
You could try to mix it with some other "milk" like soy milk or rice milk.

jenspeaks (http://jenspeaks.com)
Nov. 2nd, 2005 08:02 pm (UTC)
Soy Dream/Rice Dream are the best. Silk soy products usually taste the most planty. At least, so says the lactose-intolerant husband. I quite like Soy Dream, but Silk and Rice Dream are both too....egh.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 08:24 pm (UTC)
Hi Jen!
Hm, possibly...but aren't those high in calcium too?
Nov. 2nd, 2005 07:59 pm (UTC)
That Boston molasses tragedy is still my favorite random party anecdote hands down.

Good to know about the iron intake, that's one of the elements that I am usually very low on. It's my official excuse for never giving blood. It's true that the Red Cross won't take it to to low iron content, but the real dirty truth is that I am just so pathologically scared of needles that I generally have to spend the entire day in bed after a blood test. I've heard low iron can also be a cause of nasty cramps during Princess Week. Hm. May have to look into some molasses and dark-dark chocolate. Darn.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 08:30 pm (UTC)
I had a fun couple weeks there, asking everyone I knew, "So do YOU know about the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919?"

Princess Week. Hee. Guess that's one thing I don't miss much...not that the other symptoms don't make up for it.

I'm almost phobic about needles, but generally only if they stay for long. So flu shots are okay, since that's just a jab, but I do not like having blood drawn, nor having an IV attached to me. Guess that rules out epidurals right away. (A needle in your freakin' SPINE! Egads! I'll take the crushing waves of uterine muscle contractions instead, I think. At least, I'll try.)
Nov. 2nd, 2005 09:36 pm (UTC)
Dude, I hear you about the epidural. Some friend of my mom's was explaining the various methods of anesthesia (or lack thereof) that she had used when having her kids (she had four or five, and didn't use the same process twice, so she knew whereof she spoke). She told me that the epidural was "the only way to fly" but after her explanation of how it works....meep.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 10:30 pm (UTC)
Well, it doesn't have to be the only way for all of us. :) I take courage from my sisters and mom and aunt, none of whom are superheroes nor athletes, but who got through a couple births apiece without medication. It can be done, and I'd love the bragging rights regarding having done it. *knock on wood*
Nov. 15th, 2005 07:27 pm (UTC)
I have a friend who found the relaxation/meditation and breathing techniques she learned in yoga classes to be HUGELY helpful. (In her case, she ended up having a C-section when the baby started showing distress, but she made it through *many* hours of labor w/o meds. She was also having her first child at 41, so you're in a much better position there.)Dunno if you're into taking yoga classes at this stage, but thought I'd pass it along.

Oh, and Total breakfast cereal has 100% of your RDA of iron per serving--easy way to get more iron, esp. now that they have some interesting flavors. (Sez one who is *chronically* anemic, to the point of serious illness on occasion.)

Nov. 16th, 2005 01:54 am (UTC)
*nod nod*
Mostly what they teach in childbirth classes, as ways to deal with labor (before or without medication) is breathing and relaxation. From the little yoga I've learned, it's pretty much the same thing. I already know it helps when I'm stressed or feeling ill in general, so I figure it's got a good chance in labor too. They talk a lot about the "fear-tension-pain" cycle, a cycle that in my easily-stressed existence is definitely real. So if you can eliminate the fear and tension, you can lose a lot of the pain.

Yes! Grape-Nuts, actually, have nearly 100% of the RDA for iron. :) Though the difficulty is our tendency to eat cereal with milk--and calcium interferes with iron. Doi. Come on, nature, cooperate a little. Still, can't hurt to have the cereal...I'm convinced it fills in the corners at least. *doses you with some of the extra red blood I seem to have these days*
Nov. 2nd, 2005 08:07 pm (UTC)
I do wish you would stop posting about the escaping molasses. It only serves to reinforce my fears about drowning in molasses. If it can escape and do as it pleases, what is to stop it from attacking and suffocating me?


Nov. 2nd, 2005 08:30 pm (UTC)
Hehe. Sorry. On the bright side, it's been nearly a century since it happened, and molasses-containing technology has greatly improved since then. :)
Nov. 2nd, 2005 09:27 pm (UTC)
Dispense with the middle men. Get your iron by drinking the blood of the living.
Nov. 2nd, 2005 10:27 pm (UTC)
A truly Goth solution. Hm, I wonder how much nutritional iron does come with human blood? Surely there's a website about this somewhere.
Nov. 3rd, 2005 12:39 am (UTC)
My sister's hematocrit levels were down to about 28% about a week ago, so we did some research on anemia. Turns out a select anemic few actually end up craving non-edible things like paper or soil. So if that book you're reading looks like it would be great with some soy sauce... : )
Nov. 3rd, 2005 06:12 pm (UTC)
Hah, yes - have read about "pica" (the name of the desire to eat ice, starch, dirt, etc.). Haven't had any such cravings, so apparently things aren't too bad. Weird though, eh?
Nov. 9th, 2005 12:22 pm (UTC)
I think in Victorian times pregnant women were known to eat coal, so that ties in!
Nov. 9th, 2005 10:20 pm (UTC)
*shudder* That could not have been healthy. Granted, neither was much of Victorian medicine, but hey... :)
Nov. 3rd, 2005 02:16 am (UTC)
Ooooh, can I butt in with a little tiny advice?

I highly recommend buckwheat - it is very rich in iron, and it is very tasty by itself, or with beef or with pork, or with milk... which I guess the last is out, but anyway.

I think in US you can buy it either in health food stores/aisles of grocery stores, or in foreign food aisles (usually Jewish or Eastern European). It's pretty easy to cook, too.

Also, it doesn't have starch like pastas, any wheat or rice products do.
If my husband let go of his superstition (he thinks buckwheat is too -GASP- "foreign!"), I'd eat it very regularly.

Chocolate is a good idea, though ^_^ How convenient, eh?
Nov. 3rd, 2005 06:13 pm (UTC)
Cool. Will look into it and see what I can find. I've heard of buckwheat pancakes, so presumably one can get buckwheat somewhere. Probably the health-food aisle, as you say.
Nov. 5th, 2005 05:03 pm (UTC)
Oooh, interesting....I love dark chocolate. I'm anemic. I should totally eat more chocolate! I like that scenario. ;-) Heehee.
Nov. 7th, 2005 07:15 pm (UTC)
We can hope it works, but my statement has not exactly been endorsed by the FDA. ;)
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )