Chlorella for Iron Deficiency
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Iron is an essential mineral required for the delivery of oxygen to body tissues and the proper functioning of the immune system and enzymes. Lack of iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies worldwide.
Red meat, offal, oysters, spinach, and kidney beans are good sources of iron. However, to compensate for the lack of iron you might need some additional help. Chlorella supplements are rich in iron and can turn out to be very useful in maintaining levels of iron in your body.
Before getting into the details of chlorella and iron let’s first discuss what iron deficiency is.
Iron is necessary for oxygen transportation and other body functions but your body cannot produce iron. You need to consume iron in your diet. When you don’t get enough amount of iron from dietary sources then iron levels in your body go down and you develop iron deficiency.
The main causes of developing iron deficiency are:
- Insufficient amount of iron in the diet - The only source of iron for your body is the diet. When someone doesn’t consume enough iron-rich foods or follows fad diets for a longer diet then he or she may develop iron deficiency. A vegetarian diet is also a risk factor for iron deficiency as it doesn’t contain the required amount of iron.
- Increased demand for iron – Pregnant and lactating women require more iron to meet their nutritional demands. When women don’t get a sufficient amount of iron while they are pregnant or breastfeeding then they can develop iron deficiency.
- Blood loss – When your body loses blood it also loses a significant amount of iron too. Hence, the conditions causing chronic blood loss can lead to iron deficiency. These conditions include heavy menstruation, hookworm infestation, and GI bleeding. Regular blood donation can also cause iron levels to drop.
- Inappropriate iron absorption – Iron needs to be absorbed from the stomach and bowel before it can be used by the body. Some conditions like celiac disease and stomach surgery can impair iron absorption and lean ad to iron deficiency despite adequate intake of iron through dietary sources.
PEOPLE AT RISK OF IRON DEFICIENCY
Some people are more vulnerable to develop iron deficiency than others. It can be attributed to the increased physiological demand for iron or some pathological phenomenon going on in the body that affects iron and its metabolism.
Following is the list of people who have an increased risk of developing iron deficiency:
- Young children drinking cow milk instead of breast milk or formula milk
- Menstruating women
- Pregnant and lactating women
- People following a vegan diet
- Someone with eating disorders
- Frequent blood donors
- Patients of gum diseases, peptic ulcers, colonic polyps, and autoimmune diseases
- Someone using aspirin regularly
- People with diseases that alter the absorption of nutrients from the gut
STAGES OF IRON DEFICIENCY
Your body cannot make iron on its own therefore it stores the iron in the liver. When you don’t consume enough amount of iron via dietary sources then the body utilizes the stored form of iron. However, these reserves last for a limited period of time and after that you begin to develop iron deficiency.
The three main stages of iron deficiency are described below:
- Iron depletion – In this stage, the iron levels in your drop and you begin to use the stored amount of iron. At this point, you may not notice any symptoms of iron deficiency in your body.
- Iron deficiency – This is the stage at which you begin to experience different symptoms of iron deficiency because now not only the levels of iron are low but you’re also running out of stored form of iron.
- Iron deficiency anemia – Now the iron deficiency has reached the point where it begins to affect the delivery of oxygen to body tissues. Signs and symptoms are more pronounced at this stage and can become more severe if not managed timely.
SYMPTOMS OF IRON DEFICIENCY
The signs and symptoms of iron deficiency depend upon the severity condition and can include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Decreased libido
- Behavioral problems
- Repeated infections
- Eating foods that have no nutritional value
- Stunted growth
COMPLICATIONS OF IRON DEFICIENCY
If iron deficiency becomes severe it can cause:
- Poor athletic performance
- Immune system disorders
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight babies
- Motor and mental function disorders in babies
CHLORELLA AND IRON DEFICIENCY
Chlorella is a single-cell, green color freshwater alga found mainly in Japan and Taiwan. It is rich in proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, fibers, minerals, and vitamins. It boosts your immune system, fights dementia, maintains blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, improves digestion, and can manage respiratory diseases.
Chlorella is a good source of iron and can prevent iron deficiency. A single 12mg serving of chlorella can provide you with 70% of the total iron required by a person on daily basis.
Chlorella is also rich in vitamin C which helps in the absorption of iron. By increasing the levels of vitamin C chlorella increases the iron levels in your body.
Chlorella supplements can also help you maintain iron levels in pregnancy and can prevent iron deficiency anemia and other complications.
HOW TO USE CHLORELLA
Chlorella is very convenient to use as it is available in multiple forms like tablets, powder, and liquid. You can mix it in hot and cold beverages, salad dressings, and other foods.
The typical dose of chlorella for adults ranges between 3 to 10 grams per day. However, it is recommended that you speak to your healthcare provider for appropriate dosage according to your requirements and underlying health conditions.
Chlorella is considered safe to use within the recommended limits. However, some of the common side effects experienced by people are:
- Stomach cramps
- Green colored stools
- Increased sensitivity to sunlight
PRECAUTIONS TO BE KEPT IN MIND
Although chlorella doesn’t cause any adverse effects when used in moderation but the following are a few circumstances in which it is better to stay cautious and use chlorella with great care:
- Breastfeeding – There is not enough information available regarding the usage of chlorella during breastfeeding. Hence, it is advised to stay safe and avoid taking chlorella supplements when breastfeeding.
- Immune deficiency – If someone with a weak immune system uses chlorella then there are chances that bad bacteria can flourish within the intestine of that person. Therefore, use chlorella cautiously if you have a weaker immune system or if you are suffering from any immune system disorder.
- Molds allergy – Chlorella can trigger allergic reactions in those people who are allergic to molds. In case you are also allergic to molds then it is better to avoid chlorella supplements.
- Iodine sensitivity – Chlorella contains a variety of minerals including iodine. If someone with iodine sensitivity uses chlorella supplements then it might trigger an allergic response. Hence, avoid using chlorella if you are sensitive to iodine.
INTERACTIONS OF CHLORELLA WITH MEDICATIONS
Chlorella can interact with certain drugs that are used to treat different diseases and can alter their therapeutic effects and increase the risk of side effects. Two of the common interactions of chlorella are listed below:
- Warfarin and chlorella – Warfarin is a drug used to slow down or inhibit blood clotting. Chlorella contains a good amount of vitamin K which helps the blood clot. This effect of vitamin K present in chlorella decreases the therapeutic effect of warfarin. Hence, it is recommended that if you are taking warfarin for any underlying medical condition then consult your doctor before starting chlorella supplementation.
- Photosensitizing drugs and chlorella – There are some drugs that can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Chlorella has the same effect and can also increase skin sensitivity toward sunlight. If you use these two things together then it might cause your skin to become extremely sensitive to sunlight. This will increase the risk of sunburns, rashes, and blistering whenever you go out in the sun.
Iron deficiency is a common problem in all regions of the world. It primarily affects children and women because they require more amount of iron. If not managed timely iron deficiency can lead to anemia and disrupt other body functions. Hence, if you notice any symptoms of iron deficiency then seek medical help and get your iron levels checked. In case of deficiency, one way to bring back the iron levels to normal is to take chlorella supplements. It will not only provide you with huge amounts of iron but will also increase the absorption of iron from the gut.
It is recommended that you consult with a physician before starting chlorella supplements especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications for any underlying health conditions.
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