Decoding iron deficiency
Question: What are the possible causes for not absorbing iron and the resulting low-iron blood? My doctor said she didn't know and that Western medicine doesn't address the question; it only attempts to replace the missing iron with prescription iron.
I am currently taking that prescription and my iron levels are very, very slowly responding. I feel I may be missing an important angle on this rather debilitating problem. My doctor says that 85 percent of her patients are low iron. Why are we not asking WHY?
Dr. Wright: "We" in mainstream medicine have forgotten the major "why" of this, which was actually quite well known to nearly all physicians in the 19th century. And the reason why they're not looking to re-discover it is because it doesn't involve the use of any patent medicine!
In the 19th century, individuals who didn't absorb iron well were often advised to sip dilute hydrochloric acid through a glass straw (used to try to protect the teeth from being etched by the hydrochloric acid) to improve the absorbability of iron. It usually worked.
Between 1976 and 2007, I've advised every individual with iron absorption problems to have a gastric analysis, and the results have shown that the large majority have had low stomach acid. Fortunately, glass straws have been replaced by capsules containing hydrochloric acid and pepsin (which is an acid-activated protein-digesting gastric enzyme). Not only does this improve absorption of supplemental iron, but it also helps your body to achieve once-normal body iron. And if you take hydrochloride with pepsin with meals, you no longer need to take continuous iron supplementation.
In addition, betaine hydrochloride with pepsin also improves the digestion of protein into amino acids, improves the absorption of a long list of other minerals in addition to iron, and improves the absorption of folate and even vitamin C.
As you can see, not absorbing iron is usually just the most obvious symptom of a much broader problem. For complete details, see the book “Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You” by Lane Lenard, Ph.D., and me. In fact, why not get two copies -- one for you and one to give to your doctor. She might like it! Even though it's easy to read, there are over 500 references to medical journal articles.
In the minority of individuals with normal stomach acid function but poor iron absorption, simply taking supplemental iron with supplemental vitamin C will significantly improve iron absorption, as will taking supplemental iron with animal protein.
About the author
Jonathan V. Wright, M.D. has degrees from both Harvard University (cum laude) and the University of Michigan. More than any other doctor, he practically invented the modern science of applied nutritional biochemistry and he has advanced nutritional medicine for nearly three decades.
As of today, Dr. Wright has received over 35,000 patient visits at his now-famous Tahoma Clinic in Washington State.
To learn more about Dr. Wright, and to sign up for his free Health e-Tips eLetter, please visit www.wrightnewsletter.com.