Natural Boost

If someone had to ask me what made the biggest difference in our cycling this year? It would be one word: Iron

As doctors, we get taught about iron at med school, but we don’t really get taught how essential it is. Get yours tested if it hasn’t been tested in a year.

Iron deficiency can cause a myriad of symptoms but for athletes, it means two things. Less oxygen-carrying capacity and less energy (less ATP formation).

It has been on the radar of extreme athletes for ages, and blood doping in the Tour de France is actually iron-doping as it gives the body more hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying capacity).

Chantélle started training last year and she did well, but then suddenly had symptoms of tiredness/weakness/ and not being able to control her heart rate against hills. We looked far and wide for reasons until one doctor helped me realize Chantélle’s iron stores were shot. See her blood results below: To translate this, her hemoglobin seemed fine (she was actually giving blood with these levels), but if you dig deeper and tested the actual iron levels and stores, these were extremely low.

I did some research and there are amazing intravenous iron products on the market, and we proceeded to give Chantélle intravenous iron. It took four weeks, but it had an AMAZING effect.

With this, we realized that there is not a dedicated infusion center in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. I chatted with my friend Dr. Shaun McQueen and we opened one (Wellspring Clinic – find us on FB – https://www.facebook.com/wellspringworld/)!

Chantélle needed two intravenous iron infusions! And was also kept on oral iron.

We then went a step further and had our genes analyzed with Elria (www.healthpoints.co.za) (www.geneway.co.za) and realized that iron metabolism can actually be predicted (see my iron gene results below). This was confirmed with Chantélle’s iron metabolism being an issue from a genetic level.

We realized so many other things from the genetic testing: from Vitamin B12 metabolism to Glutathione gene expression.

This post will get boring if I delve too far into all the things we found, but I needed to get out to the world to get your iron (and not just hemoglobin) levels tested.

It will make the world of difference!

References:

  1. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/health-and-medicine/hematologic-system-diseases-2/iron-deficiency-anemia-and-anemia-of-chronic-disease/v/what-is-iron-deficiency
  2. Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anaemia: a clinical update. Sant-Rayn S Pasricha, Stephen C Flecknoe-Brown, Katrina J Allen, Peter R Gibson, Lawrence P McMahon, John K Olynyk, Simon D Roger, Helen F Savoia, Ramdas Tampi, Amanda R Thomson, Erica M Wood and Kathryn L Robinson Med J Aust 2010; 193 (9): 525-532. || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb04038.x
  3. Iron deficiency Clara Camaschella Blood 2019 133:30-39; doi: https://doi.org/10.1182/blood-2018-05-815944

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