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Iron deficiency - you are what you absorb

Organic Bio-Beet Kvass Iron Tonic is a functional wholefood rich in bio-available iron, essential co-nutrients and improves digestive health: impaired digestion is often associated with iron deficiency.  

 1. When it comes to iron, bio-availability is key

Lacto-fermentation is unique and exceptional in its ability to convert iron from vegetable sources into a safe bio-available form that is easily absorbed by the body. There are plenty of iron rich foods but many of them have low bio-availability. This is reflected in the current Recommended Daily Amount [Ref 1]  that is much higher (usually between 8-18mg) than the small amount of iron that an average person actually needs to absorb each day to stay healthy (around 1 mg for adult males and 1.5 mg for menstruating females). Even though you actually need relatively small amounts of iron, it is absolutely essential for life, which is why your body works so hard to recycle and reuse the iron it has already stored. 

 2. Which plant foods are in Bio-Beet Kvass Iron Tonic?

We use well-known plant sources of non-heme iron:  Beetroot; Dandelion; Fennel and Nettle. It’s always best to get your iron from foods first due to its bio-availability and because no dietary element is an island. For maximum iron uptake there are a number of important co-nutrients that need to be present and in the right balance to optimise iron absorption. All of these co-nutrients are present in the nutrient dense foods we ferment in our Beet Kvass Iron Tonic and/or are made available through the lacto-fermentation process itself:

Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron by up to five times. This is only true for the ingestion of all-natural iron from wholefoods: there is no equivalent benefit when the iron ingested is from a supplement, including a multi-vitamin or mineral supplement;

Natural Acids produced through the lacto-fermentation process (lactic and acetic acid) significantly increase the bio-availability of iron while at the same time improving digestive function and healing the gut lining (ideal for leaky gut);

Folate - The symptoms of folate deficiency are very similar to those of iron deficiency.  Folate is essential for proper red blood cell formation. Our Beet Kvass Iron Tonic is a rich source of Folate;

Vitamin A is essential for releasing iron stored in our bodies. The body stores iron in various places, including the liver. This is important because the most significant influence on your ability to absorb iron is the amount of iron you have already stored in your body. If your stores are high, your body absorbs less iron from the foods you eat. Conversely, low iron stores increase your ability to absorb iron.  A deficiency in Vitamin A adversely affects the ability to absorb iron.

Manganese – a deficiency in Manganese is often associated with low iron levels. This important mineral needs to be in the right amount and balance for efficient iron uptake;

Molybdenum - an important trace element that influences the internal transport and release of iron. Preliminary data suggests that molybdenum intake in Australia may not be optimal and it is possible that a deficiency in molybdenum may contribute to abnormalities of iron metabolism and utilization.  

 3. The impact of stomach acid on iron absorption

Iron, like calcium and protein, requires plentiful stomach acid for optimum uptake. Digestive problems such as gas, bloating, indigestion, reflux or issues digesting protein may mean you also have an iron absorption problem. For those over 50 years of age your stomach is producing only 15 percent of the hydrochloric acid (HCL) it produced at age 25 and hence your ability to absorb enough iron is diminished. Ironically, having enough Iron is essential for the stimulation of the secretion of HCL in the stomach.

Our Beet Kvass Iron Tonic has high levels of natural acids, Betaine and digestive enzymes all of which help to maximise iron absorption, improve digestion and support the proper functioning of stomach acid production - this critical step in our digestion and where many mal-absorption issues begin.

 4. Iron supplements side effects

Some iron supplements use inorganic forms of iron that are hard on the digestion and more difficult for the body to assimilate and absorb. These iron supplements can cause digestive discomfort, constipation and/or nausea. Our Bio-Beet Kvass Iron Tonic is non-constipating, has a gentle laxative effect and is anti-nausea. 

Please Note: Iron deficiency and anaemia are serious and can be complex. For this reason, your doctor or other health professional should diagnose you, typically using a blood test. Depending on the severity of your condition you may be prescribed iron supplementation or an infusion and other treatment to address related issues (e.g. helicobacter pylori which impairs iron absorption in infected individuals).

In these cases we would recommend that you also take our Beet Kvass Iron Tonic to help ameliorate the side effects associated with traditional iron supplementation and at the same time improve your digestive function and your iron levels. Bio-Beet Kvass Iron Tonic is ideal as an effective long-term support for healthy iron levels. 

 

 5. Impact of inflammation 

Inflammation reduces iron absorption, as an example around one third of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also suffer from anaemia. Our Beet Kvass Iron Tonic is anti-inflammatory – for IBS and Inflammatory Bowel Disease we recommend starting with a dose of 1-5mls and build-up slowly.

 

 6. Substances that inhibit iron absorption

Lacto-fermentation digests and radically reduces substances that inhibit iron absorption but are often found in iron-rich foods. For example oxalic acid, which is present in many iron rich foods but blocks the absorption of both iron and calcium and is the reason why raw spinach isn’t a good source of iron even though it contains lots of iron.

 7. Synbiotics and iron absorption

Synbiotics consist of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (food for beneficial bacteria) and help the digestive system to make much better use of nutrients in food, improve gut flora, boost immunity and help with producing essential neurotransmitters. 

 8. Health tonics should do no harm

A good quality health tonic needs to be efficacious and do no harm: notwithstanding any ‘die-off’ effects. Our Beet Kvass Iron Tonic is a fermented organic food, clean, safe and gentle on the body. Other than Celtic sea salt, we use no chemicals, clarifiers, stabilizers, binders, fillers, sugar or other sweeteners.

Please note: the body stores iron very efficiently and too much iron can be toxic. The absorption of non-heme iron from plant foods is regulated effectively by the body and because of this it is considered to be a safe source of iron.

Our Bio-Beet Kvass Iron Tonic is a functional food and not a supplement. Food is medicine and works very differently to supplementation - where traditionally the focus is quantitative rather than functional.  As an artisan food company our focus is on the qualitative functional aspects of our fermented tonics such as our Beet Kvass Iron Tonic and for this reason, and other practical limitations, we choose not to impose a reductive nutritional breakdown of our products.

 9. Beet Kvass Iron Tonic suggested usage

Please note: Recommendations herein are general advice only.

We suggest that you start with a small amount of our Bio-Beet Kvass Iron Tonic to allow your body to adjust: our tonics are potent and due to their health benefits you can have too much too quickly.

We recommend starting with 5-10 mls for three days and see how you go and then slowly increase to 30 mls per day broken up into 10ml shots before each meal. Once you can comfortably take that amount per day you can then take more if your body feels like it needs more (or as directed by a health professional) – up to 120 mls per day.

Small amounts over the day will help with the absorption of iron and improve digestive function. Interestingly the less you eat and the more often you eat the better iron is absorbed. When consuming high amounts of iron at one time (as is the case with supplementation) the percentage that our bodies actually absorb is actually lower than when your regular meal contains only a few milligrams. 

As well as addressing nutrient deficiencies and digestive issues, Bio-Beet Kvass Iron Tonic is a useful indicator of your general health. If for instance you crave large amounts it might be because you have a nutrient deficiency that needs to be looked at more closely.

  10. What else can improve iron absorption?

In addition to a balanced diet there are a number of specific things you can do to improve your iron levels:

  • When eating foods high in iron avoid well-known iron absorption inhibitors such as eggs, coffee (even decaf), tea, red wine, cocoa and soy protein. Calcium and phosphorus also reduce the absorption of plant-sourced iron as do the phytates present in many grains;
  • Cooking in cast-iron skillets does actually increase iron levels in food especially when those foods contain Vitamin C;
  • Soaking then cooking vegetables, and / or consuming animal protein with your vegetables boosts iron absorption;
  • Combining foods high in Vitamin C with non-heme iron rich foods (plant-based) can increase iron absorption.

For more information on our Bio-Beet Kvass Iron Tonic or our other ferments please visit our website.

If in doubt consult a medical professional.

 

References:

  1. Australian Government Department of Health https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iron

 

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