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Anemia And Hypoglycemia

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metamorphisis posted 3/10/2014 09:56 AM

DD's been feeling like garbage. She works out every day at school and her teacher called because she was too winded and shaky to do her workout several times. These are workouts that were previously no problem for her.
So we had her tested and she is moderately anemic and hypoglycaemic. She had just eaten about an hour prior to the test but blood sugar was still low.

The DR. has said we have to pick up an iron supplement and take it 3x a day and she needs to eat regular small meals. She does eat, and I am as certain as I can be that she has no eating disorders. But she often chooses the quick nutrient lacking option over healthy options. It's pretty typical for her to grab a croissant and some cheese and head out the door instead of dinner for example.

I guess I am just wondering if anyone has any experience ..specifically with the low blood sugar (I was anemic when pregnant so I familiar with that). Will more healthy snacks and small healthy meals make a difference? Should she eat right before the work out? And she has had pretty much chronic UTI's recently. Is it maybe just from her body being run down from the other things? I don't know if they are connected. I planned to ask the DR. that, but they won't talk to me over the phone because she's 16 and she hates the phone, forgot to ask and rushed off the call.
Any advice or experience appreciated.

musiclovingmom posted 3/10/2014 10:05 AM

Requent, small 'meals' should help keep her blood sugar consistent.
I know you didn't ask about anemia, but I just have to chime in. Remember that iron and calcium are counter nutrients, so make sure she isn't taking that iron supplement within an hour of dairy products. Vitamin C aids iron absorption, so Leanne juice is good. Also, probably ought to up her fiber since iron supplements can cause constipation. Dark greens and red meat can help if her anemia isn't bad. Also, I've had some succes increasing my iron levels by cooking in my cast iron skillet more often.

tushnurse posted 3/10/2014 10:08 AM

Mild anemia in young women is fairly common, esp in the first week or two after their period.
If she has bad eating habits, you should not only add in the iron, but a Multivitamin, and some Vitamin D as well.
I know all about the teen choosing the quick ready to go thing instead of the quality food. I deal with daily myself.

The Hypoglycemia is probably in direct relationship to the food she is choosing. If she is eating a more carb based diet, then she is more prone to have episodes of low blood sugar. When your body is given sugar/carbs it produces insulin to break it down, if there is nothing in conjunction with those carbs, ie protein then often too much insulin is produced, and whamo blamo low blood sugar, or Hypoglycemia. This is an easy fix honestly.

Try getting her protein bars/shakes for breakfast. Make sure she has snack sized bags of nuts for snacks to grab,jerky is also a great choice to keep in their bag. These are high in protein, and low in sugar so you won't get that insulin dump. They will also help her body to rebuild the blood better and faster.

The iron at three times a day is going to constipate her most likely, so she needs to be aware of this. She may benefit from a stool softner, or an increase in fruit in her diet.

Red meat and green leafy veggies are going to help her build up her blood counts again and get rid of the anemia, and she should be getting more of those when she is having her period, esp if her periods are heavy.

The other quick easy protein filled, option for on your way out the door is a smoothie made with greek yogurt (1 cup) 1/2 a banana and a cup of frozen berries, run it through the blender, and yum yum yum.

metamorphisis posted 3/10/2014 10:08 AM

Thank you. It's a little tricker because she is a vegetarian (though will occasionally eat fish). She has been for almost 4 years so we won't be using red meat, but there are other things high in iron that she will eat that should help. It's never been a problem before. I think the problem with her diet right now is that she's is almost 17, making her own food because she's on the run a lot .. and making unhealthy choices because mom isn't cooking. See.. mom's know everything.

InnerLight posted 3/10/2014 11:14 AM

In my experience as a nutritionist i notice that most of clients' doctors prescribe the least absorbable most constipating form of iron. (ferrous sulfate) A better option is iron bis glycinate and there are good studies on its effectiveness. I think you can google scholar it to get the studies on its use during pregnancy with anemic moms. It's often sold as 'Ferrochel'
My clients have had no constipation with this and have reversed their anemia.

Your daughter should also be taking a B12 supplement, I would suggest at least 1000mcg, methylcobalamin is the better form, so this would be on top of what is in a multi. B12 is only available in animal foods, some forms of anemia are B12 related. A multi that has at least 20mg of B6 is a good idea too. Look at the ingredients to avoid the artificial dyes, propelene glycol and hydrogenated oils, sure signs of a crap multi like Centrum. A health food store is a better source of quality multis than the drug store.

Having snacks between meals that include protein and fat rather than 'naked' carbs alone will keep better blood sugar balance. This also could be a sign of stress. The tonifying herb Siberian Ginseng comes to mind as a possibility as it is used for stamina and athletic performance as well as stress management and resilience.

The chronic UTIs are a sign of stress in my mind, and also could be a sign of low protein and high carb diet. Low immunity is one reflection of low protein intake. If she is an athlete she should be consuming 1 gram to 1.5 grams of protein for every 2.2 lbs of body weight. If she is not careful in her choices as a vegetarian she could be making herself ill.

My guess is that this may also affect her moods making her more emotionally reactive.

[This message edited by InnerLight at 11:15 AM, March 10th (Monday)]

tushnurse posted 3/10/2014 11:52 AM

InnerLight hit the nail on the head with a lot there, but two statements for sure.

If she is an athlete she should be consuming 1 gram to 1.5 grams of protein for every 2.2 lbs of body weight. If she is not careful in her choices as a vegetarian she could be making herself ill.

We were born Omnivores, and to be successful at eliminating meat from our diet takes a lot of vigilance, and smart choices. Depending on her reasons for choosing the vegan path, I would reconsider. If she feels that it will help her stay thin she is wrong. Carbs and extra calories are what contribute to obesity, and overeating, when you get the cycle of blood sugar going up and down, then you get the hunger triggers more often, and tend to overeat. Proteins keep things at an even keel, and help keep you from getting that I'm so hungry I'm gonna eat anything and everything feeling.

My guess is that this may also affect her moods making her more emotionally reactive.

This also goes to the up and down of blood sugar. If you have an up then it's followed by a down, which means you feel bright, and strong, and then wiped out and low.
I have been helping my daughter to regulate and improve her diet, since the first of the year she has lost 14 pounds, and amazingly the door slamming screaming 14 year old fits have gone from a daily thing to almost non existent. I do chalk it up to a better regulated diet and blood sugar.

Jrazz posted 3/10/2014 13:14 PM

(((meta & DD)))

metamorphisis posted 3/10/2014 13:48 PM

Hmmm.. the moodiness. That's interesting. One of her major complaints was heart racing and anxiety at times. It's hard to tell what is teenage moodiness and what is health related, but I will certainly be watching to see connections.

As for her vegetarianism. Like mentioned, it's been 4 years and this is the first problem we've had with it. She isn't concerned with losing weight. She lost all baby fat when she started working out in grade 9. I never noticed any issue with her weight, but she got very fit with the 90 minutes of work outs, which she enjoys so much that she takes a class every semester. She's thin and toned. (completely unlike her mother :p).
We had no trouble with the vegetarianism when we all ate as a family. She ate a ton of beans and legumes, and cheeses and hard boiled eggs and fish and nut butters. I really think the issue we're having is that she started packing her own lunches this year, doesn't eat dinner with us at least 4 nights a week because of activities and skips breakfast because she's getting up to late to eat and get to the bus on time.
This is an excellent tool for some reminders that it's not how much we eat, but the quality of what we're eating, and even moreso when she's eliminated a food group.
In order for her to become a vegetarian and for us to help her with it I insisted she do all the research and present it to me. Afterall she was 12. She not only surprised me by doing just that, but sticking with it for years. I support it,IF she's also doing what she needs to stay healthy. Hopefully this is a wake up call.
Innerlight thanks.. the Dr did prescribe Ferrous Glycinate. In addition to that I will pick us up some B12 and a multi from the health food store here. I might as well take the multi too.

Lots of excellent information here. Thank you everyone.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 1:49 PM, March 10th (Monday)]

nowiknow23 posted 3/10/2014 14:25 PM

meta - I have a friend dealing with this exact situation with her 16 yo dd. The iron supplements helped tremendously. She also had her journal her food for a week so they could spot any problem areas. She was losing track of what she had eaten and when because her schedule was crazy between school, sports practices, violin lessons...

InnerLight posted 3/10/2014 18:56 PM

In Traditional Chinese Medicine heart racing and anxiety would be caused by the anemia. They have a very poetic way of putting things - they would say the mind rests in the heart but if there is a blood deficiency then the mind won't rest as easily because the material foundation created by the blood won't be there. It probably sounds crazy, but I've learned the sense of this by watching this in my clients over the years.

That's great that your doc recommended a good form of iron. Your daughter will probably feel a difference between that and improving her meal planning.

I was a veg for 20 years starting as a teen, and I often didn't take a multi or B12, and I know I had years of high carb, low protein. I think back on how disturbingly strongly my moods affected me, and the life choices I made during this period and I really really really wish I had known then what I know now about nutrition. I also caught so many colds/flus a year and I think it may have contributed to messed up menstrual cycles. Maybe even the infertility.

All blessings to your daughter and I hope she feels better soon.

[This message edited by InnerLight at 6:56 PM, March 10th (Monday)]

FaithFool posted 3/10/2014 19:03 PM

Nutritional yeast in a smoothie is a good way to boost iron.

You can get the flaky kind that doesn't taste like vomit, it's quite good actually...

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