The Iron Maiden – The Basics

Hemoglobin is what makes out blood red. I carries the oxygen from our lungs to our cells. Hemoglobin is primarily composed of iron. A normal hemoglobin is 120 g/l. Western medicine has altered normal range for menstruating women to 115g/l to account for monthly blood loss. Blood Conservation protocol does not recognize this alteration. Any patient with a hemoglobin less than 120 g/l is considered anemic. There are many causes of anemia. The most common are iron deficiency and B12 deficiency.

A quick analogy. If we compare iron to bricks and hemoglobin a brick wall B12 is the stone mason. B12 is what takes iron and converts it to hemoglobin. Just to complicate matters, I am going to introduce a third player, the hormone erythropoietin. Erythropoietin is excreted by the kidneys and is the general contractor. It tells the bone marrow to use its B12 to produce hemoglobin.

A deficiency in any or all three of these components may result in anemia. When you are anemic the symptoms you experience are two-fold:

  1. Symptoms related to decreased oxygen getting to the cells.
    • Dizziness and headache (reduced oxygen to the brain)
    • Nausea (reduced oxygen to the digestive tract)
    • Chest pain (reduced oxygen to the heart muscle)
  1. Symptoms related to the body trying to get more oxygen to the tissues
    • Increased respiration (getting more oxygen into the lungs)
    • Increased heart rate (getting the oxygenated blood to the body)
    • Decreased blood pressure (the body diverts blood from the extremities to the vital organs in the core)
Leona "Oknee" Dove

Leona "Oknee" Dove

With my background as a registered nurse consultant in patient blood management at a Toronto community hospital, in combination with my own personal health struggles, I am an advocate for the early diagnosis and treatment for iron deficiency.