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I have been a vegetarian for most of my life. Lately, I’ve been incredibly fatigued.

Q. Dear Terry, “I have been a vegetarian for most of my life. Lately, I’ve been incredibly fatigued, and when I went to the doctor I was diagnosed as anemic. I know I’m supposed to take iron, but I feel like there are so many choices out there. Can you please help me?” — Alexis L., Lancaster, PA

A. Dear Alexis, Anemia can be due to a variety of causes, but a very common one is iron deficiency. In fact, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States. Over 7 million women in the U.S. are estimated to be iron deficient.

Iron is a critical component of hemoglobin, the protein carried by red blood cells that delivers oxygen throughout the body for energy. Aside from hemoglobin, iron is a requirement for the production of erythropoietin (EPO), which is a hormone needed by the body that also plays a role in helping to make energizing red blood cells.

Many factors can affect our iron levels including intense exercise, certain foods and beverages, medications like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory-drugs), which many people use on a regular basis.

To replenish our iron safely and effectively, I recommend iron in a glycinate chelated form. Because iron is a mineral, and minerals can be difficult to absorb, a “chelated” form makes it easier for the body to recognize and utilize. That way the iron can be transported directly into the cells of our body, so it can get to work right away. But it is also a gentle form of iron, and does not cause stomach upset or constipation.

I think iron functions best when taken with other chelated minerals like magnesium, zinc, and copper. Generally, if someone is deficient in one mineral, they are probably deficient in several. Plus, copper also helps to build healthy blood cells, so it is a vital component in any supplement for energy and endurance.

I would take 30 mg of iron (as ferrous bisglycinate chelate), 300 mg of magnesium (as magnesium bisglycinate chelate buffered), 10 mg of zinc (as zinc bisglycinate chelate), and 2 mg of copper (as copper bisglycinate chelate) per day. The ingredients I recommended are vegan, so they will not interfere with a vegetarian lifestyle.

Healthy Regards!

Terry . . . Naturally

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