a red blood cell absorbing iron

The Aftermath of Dealing With an Iron Allergy

Since I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 2011, I have had significant issues absorbing iron, leading to an iron deficiency. For years, I have had to go to the hospital for iron infusions as a result. Unfortunately, I experienced a severe allergic reaction to an iron infusion in the hospital.

Iron deficiency anemia and iron infusions

For those who have issues absorbing iron through their gut or digestive system, iron infusions via the vein (intravenous) could help. The benefit of having iron infusions through an IV is to bypass the digestive system.

Severe reaction to an infusion

Even with IV iron infusions, I still struggle to absorb the iron. It has been a highly complex journey. Recently, I had a severe allergic reaction during an iron infusion in which a "Code Blue" had to be called to provide me with emergency medical attention. I tried a new brand of iron, and my body completely rejected it. It was beyond frightening to experience.

So how have I managed this iron deficiency without having iron infusions? Well, to be clear, my doctor wants me to go in for another infusion, but I have refused for the time being. Feeling like my throat was closing, seeing black dots, and feeling like I was on the verge of fainting was enough for me to experience.  Needless to say, I've taken a break from the infusions.

Searching for alternative iron options

I've been reading up on other ways to supplement iron instead of the infusions, but I have yet to try any alternative options. My naturopathic medical doctor recommended that I try black strap molasses. Currently, I have been taking beef liver supplements, as I know liver contains iron.

Issues with absorption

However, my iron levels have not improved to my surprise, although I feel better since starting this supplement. My energy has increased, and I've noticed an overall feeling of wellness. Various naturopathic practitioners say beef liver is "nature's multivitamin," but scientific research is still needed to confirm its health benefits. Despite taking the supplement, my iron level is still relatively low at 14.

Along with supplements, I've been incorporating beets, red meat, and dark, leafy greens into my diet, although I don't eat red meat often. These foods tend to be rich sources of iron.1

It seems my next option will be to try black strap molasses. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be the missing piece of the puzzle of my iron deficiency anemia.

Disappointment and uncertainty

I am disappointed that I experienced a severe allergic reaction during my last iron infusion. Unfortunately, my journey to increasing my iron absorption continues. But I have to keep finding ways to absorb iron since conventional oral iron supplements make me incredibly ill.

Editor's Note: Supplements are not regulated by the FDA. This means no agency confirms the ingredients. For example, a fish oil supplement may have more or less fish oil than listed on the label. A supplement may also contain ingredients that are not labeled correctly or at all. This can be dangerous. It can lead to taking too much or taking unwanted ingredients.

The FDA created good manufacturing practices (GMPs) to help this situation. GMPs are guidelines for companies to follow when making supplements. The FDA rarely inspects facilities making supplements in the United States. Companies outside the United States do not have these inspections. But many more supplements are sold than are tested. Your doctor can help you decide if a supplement is safe.

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