NOTE: Please read my post Killing Myself with Copper after reading this one.
I recently discovered that my problems with iron deficiency were due to the multivitamin I was taking. It contained minerals in amounts that were preventing my body from absorbing iron. Switching to another brand of multivitamin has helped me greatly. This is something I want to share in the hopes it will help others, because I probably had the issues for years but didn’t realize them until recently.
I’d been using Nature Made multivitamins for years. I switched to those from One-A-Day back in 2011 when I realized I had issues with my iodine and selenium levels. The One-A-Day didn’t have iodine in it. The Nature Made multivitamins, at least in tablet form, had 100% RDA of iodine, selenium, and other vitamins and minerals that were either not present in the One-A-Day or were present in lower amounts. I felt great on the Nature Made multivitamins and continued taking them. Over time, especially this past year, I’ve noticed increasing problems keeping up my iron levels. My tests results for iron would usually come back at the low end of normal. My allergist, back in February 2016, found that my ferritin was low and suggested I take an iron supplement. I could not tolerate either it or the carbonyl iron I tried later. What seemed to help for a while was just taking two of all my supplements a day rather than just taking them once. I felt great for a while, and my skin cleared significantly. However, I began having problems with iron deficiency symptoms again, first during my period and then at other times also. I decided to add an extra iron supplement to my doubled-up regimen, thinking I’d be able to tolerate it better this time. While I didn’t have the strong response that I had previously in the year, I did develop problems gradually due to the imbalance of the iron over other minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. I wasn’t taking in as much of those as I was the rest. I tried to find ways to correct the imbalance, like drinking nutrition shakes and soy milk, products with a good ratio of calcium to magnesium. I decided to purchase an iron free multivitamin, Nature Made’s Multi for Her 50+, and then take two iron tablets a day with two of the multivitamin tablets a day. That would bring down the amount of iron but would still keep it above what I was getting before I added on the supplement. Within two days, I was experiencing iron deficiency symptoms again. All throughout this time, I wondered what on earth could be causing the issues. Could it be age-related? Was I just having absorption problems of some kind, due to my IgA deficiency or something else? If bumping up my calcium and magnesium levels using food products helped me feel better, wouldn’t my body be properly absorbing nutrients? I was at a loss. I did find through reading online that manganese competes with iron for absorption and can impede absorption of iron. The Nature Made multivitamins had 200% RDA of manganese but only 100% RDA of iron. I wondered if this might be the issue. I went to the store to stop for alternative multivitamins. I tried to find something that would look more favorable for iron absorption while providing at least some amount of the vitamins and minerals that were in my Nature Made multivitamins. I finally settled on the Centrum formulation for adults. I started taking it on Thursday, December 29th. I didn’t take the iron supplement and just took my other supplements as usual. I could tell a big difference rather quickly. I continued to feel well in spite of not taking an iron supplement. A few days later, I gave my iron supplement and old multivitamin away, confident I would not need them and knowing I could not go back to them anyway if the Centrum multivitamin ended up not helping after all. To this day, I still feel terrific. Skin issues I started noticing shortly after beginning the second round of extra iron supplementation have begun clearing. My energy levels seem to be consistent. My hope is that things will continue to go well and that new problems won’t develop due to the multivitamin switch. When I’m sure that this new multivitamin will continue to help and that I plan to stick with it, I plan to update my vitamin and supplement regimen on the site.
If you take multivitamins and supplements, feel unwell, show up deficient when iron and/or other vitamins and minerals are checked, and cannot determine another cause, it might benefit you to make sure you’re taking a multivitamin (or supplements) containing an adequate balance of vitamins and minerals for your specific needs. Consider speaking to your doctor about any suggestions he or she might have about switching and any recommended brands. Hopefully you won’t have to struggle along for the amount of time that I did.
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