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Hiking and Iron deficiency anemia

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  • Hiking and Iron deficiency anemia

    I am writing on behalf of a friend who's an avid hiker, a 46er and is working on her W46. She has iron deficiency anemia.

    She loves hiking in the High Peaks, but dealing with the anemia is a constant struggle. She does struggle on the uphills, having to pause often before moving on. Her dr says her iron is very slowly going up but cannot give her a shot as of yet. She tells me she feels tired at times (ie lack of energy)

    I am quite certain there are hikers and other athletes, including runners, who have anemia and have also struggled. Thus, I am looking for advice for her to help her with her endurance and energy. Much thanks!

    We are closer now than we were five minutes ago

  • #2
    sprouted pumpkin seeds !!
    I became anemic due to medical treatment.
    very hard to get out from under. Very hard to treat by diet. Iron pills were not an option as they would only further contribute to underlying cause.
    Infusions are very costly and must be done in hospital, not a good option.
    I treated 100% by diet.
    I'm not a dietician and I was told you can't "eat" enough iron to rebuild depletion.
    I was able to treat by diet but it took one year and you have to see food as medicine.
    I drank coffee in the morning with molasses and ground up dark chocolate powder.
    I drank green juice with 15% daily requirement of iron and ate LOTS of sprouted pumpkin seeds.
    raw shredded zucchini ( instead of lettuce ) raw organic baby spinach, and other greens.
    I did not eat LIVER. I did eat other meat and fish with high iron content.
    Every day I ate enough food containing iron to exceed recommended daily intake. this is very hard to do and will take a lot of research and dedication but can be done.
    After one year my blood work showed iron low but with in normal range.
    I celebrated my new found stamina by bushwhacking Iron mountain to Owl's head lookout and then up Past batwing slide on Giant and out to New Russia via RPR and cobbles.
    Ever since I have stayed on a " high" iron diet and been able to maintain within normal levels.

    Prayers to your friend
    MG always in search of IRON


    • mastergrasshopper
      mastergrasshopper commented
      Editing a comment
      2 additional items
      plant based Vega protein and greens ( powder ) 1 scoop = 25% daily iron So I had a smoothie and iron coffee every morning. And another smoothie in the evening. 2 scoops per day was a base line 50% then all else added up to more than another 50%.
      grass fed beef. just burgers with out needless nutrition void buns.

    • MtnManJohn
      MtnManJohn commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you very much for the insight and advice, MG! I passed your info along to my friend and she appreciates it

  • #3
    Around age 40, I was diagnosed with severe iron deficiency due to severe monthly blood loss. For a solid decade, my serum ferritin levels sat at 0.
    Diet doesn’t make any difference at that point, because you lose way more iron than you can ever get from natural food sources, you need supplements. There are many. I tried them all. Far and away the best one for me was Palafer, which is reasonably easy on the gut and gives you the most useable iron for the bang. There are some supplements made from heme based sources, but that is not kosher nor vegetarian or vegan cool.

    The problem with the whole greens and seeds thing is that it is a very inefficient way to get the iron, as most of it is lost in the digestive process. And drinking a gallon of molasses to get the equivalent of one tab of ferrous gluconate isn’t practical in the real world...

    During that decade and a half, I still hiked, and ran half marathons. My hiking partners can tell you how badly I suck air on ascents, and fitness has nothing to do with it, remember, not only are your blood cells unable to hold oxygen, so are your muscle cells! You’re like a veal calf....

    Pace yourself, rest, respect your fatigue levels and don’t let anyone tell you it’s your fitness level.

    If it’s dysmenorrhea that’s the problem, it gets better with menopause. It can be managed without surgery, and don’t let some knife happy gyne surgeon tell you otherwise...

    Most supplements are OTC, try them and find what’s best for you. Be patient, there’s no quick fix, but she will be surprised how even a little more energy comes with even a bit of supplementation.


    • #4
      Originally posted by MtnManJohn View Post
      She does struggle on the uphills, having to pause often before moving on.
      This has nothing to do with iron deficiency anemia.
      She is trying to move way too fast.
      She just need to learn how to pace herself or to start hiking with more considerate partners willing to hike together with her without running ahead and leaving her behind.

      Solo hiking is a good option for her.


      • #5
        Sorry, Yury, you’re wrong. It has everything to do with iron deficiency anemia. When I got my ferritin levels above 0, I noticed a huge difference.


        • Yury
          Yury commented
          Editing a comment
          Regardless of the level of hemoglobin/endurance a person should be able to pace him/herself and enjoy the hike.

        • MtnManJohn
          MtnManJohn commented
          Editing a comment
          Charlene, you are correct, and Yury is quite wrong and clearly does not understand the background nor implications of iron deficiency anemia, so his comments are not helpful but yours are (and my friend noted as much). I also know you've been in the medical field for quite some time.

        • Yury
          Yury commented
          Editing a comment
          MtnManJohn, once I lost about half of my Hgb (down to 53% of original level). It took me about half a year to get back to my normal level. I believe in red meet and green vegetables and do not believe in chemicals. I have not stopped hiking during my recovery time.
          Similarly it may take quite a few months for your friend to improve her Hgb/stamina.
          At the same time it doesn't mean that she should completely stop hiking right now.
          My advice is about immediate future e.g. tomorrow while advice of other people is for more distant future e.g. several months.

      • #6
        MtnManJohn, I’m going to bump a thread from a few years back. Bear with it, it eventually evolves into a couple respected female athlete/hikers (before the current plethora of self described queens and princesses) discussing iron deficiency anemia and hiking. There is useful stuff in there....

        I agree with Yury that you can still enjoy hiking (or running half marathons and heavy weight training) with iron deficiency anemia. Think I mentioned respecting fatigue levels in my reply. But I will reiterate that the fatigue has exactly jack to do with fitness...


        • #7
          Cardio/knees/women, started by our own Maria.


          • #8
            I know basically nothing about the anemia problems mentioned but I do know another reason for a stopping/going problem on the trail [actually anywhere/anytime where effort is involved]...pre-diabetes and diabetes...sugar/insulin problems. These conditions sneak up on seemingly healthy people and I'm posting this not so much for MtManJohn's friend but for others who may be reading this and see this problem in themselves or others.