Iron Deficiency & Anemia are common nutritionally influenced conditions. They affect nearly 1 in 5 women in New Zealand (and even more commonly in Vegetarians) .It is caused by a lack of Iron which plays an vital role in transporting oxygen throughout the body. If there isn’t enough iron and hemoglobin (an oxygen carrying protein) present in the blood, symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, loss of hair, irritability, muscle weakness and spasms, poor mental performance and immune function, and skin problems often occur.
The first and most obvious solution for many people is to simply supplement with therapeutic levels of iron. But, more often than not, iron absorption is hindered and gastrointestinal side effects prevent good adherence to this vital therapy.
Iron is naturally found in many animal and plant based foods. Beef, Lamb, chicken and seafood all contain a well absorbed form known as “heme iron”. Grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and vegetables possess a different variety of iron that is referred to as “non-heme iron”. Kidney beans, lentils, molasses and spinach provide high levels of non-heme iron. However, Research indicates that the non-heme iron is not as well absorbed as heme iron, which can be a problem for women who don't eat a lot (or any) of meat.
Also, diet alone is rarely enough to reestablish adequate iron stores in someone with clinical anemia. That’s why doctors often recommend high-dose Iron supplements that far exceeds the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 18 mg. Dosages ranging from 60 mg – 200 mg of elemental iron are usually prescribed for those with an iron deficiency. While this is necessary, it's frequently problematic because it can cause certain digestive side effects, such as constipation and nausea.
Fortunately, there is a little-known yet scientifically proven alternative for those who cannot manage traditional iron replacement – a supplement called Lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is a glycoprotein normally found in colostrum, the first and most important part of breast milk. Any baby who has been breast fed has already “supplemented” with and benefited from lactoferrin. It is relevant in the battle against anemia because it appears to improve iron (including non-heme) absorption from food and helps transport this essential mineral to where it is needed.
A study published in July 2009 examined the effects of lactoferrin versus an iron supplement (ferrous sulfate) in a group of pregnancy women with anemia. This is an especially sensitive population because the risk of digestive complications and the added importance of sticking to treatment is particularly important during this time. 100 expectant mothers participated in the study. Fifty received 100 mg of lactoferrin twice daily, while the other 50 were given 520 mg of ferrous sulfate once a day (providing about 100 mg of actual iron). After just a month of treatment, both groups demonstrated similar increases in serum ferritin, hemoglobin and iron. However, the group receiving the ferrous sulfate reported significantly greater rates of abdominal pain and constipation than the group just taking Lactoferrin.
Another study in 2006 supports these current findings. That study followed 300 women and used the same dosage of both iron and lactoferrin (520 mg daily vs. 100 mg twice daily). This one month trial actually found that performed better than ferrous sulfate by increasing values of hemoglobin and “total serum iron” to a higher degree. Once again, lactoferrin was also more effective in that it didn’t provoke side-effects like constipation and nausea.
There are other benefits to Lactoferrin. Recent studies indicate that lactoferrin can help the body combat bacterial and viral infections, decrease inflammation and protect against certain cancers, It may even support antioxidant status and immune function. These are all excellent reasons to consider whether this natural and safe remedy may have a part to play in your daily health routine.
We recommend Allergy Research Group Lactoferrin - as it is a high-dose, hypo-allergenic formula from a very reputable company.