Skip to main content

Palpitations Gone with Iron

Thanks to my internet friend Larcana, who alerted me to the connection between iron deficiency and palpitations, I doubled down on my iron supplements and, for good measure, washed them down with Emergen-C. It's a cold medicine with a mega-dose of vitamin C, plus B vitamins and minerals. I don't think vitamin C does anything for a cold (a friend bought the stuff and left it at my house the last time she visited), but vitamin C does help iron absorption. After doubling up on iron in the last three days, I feel back to normal. (I'd already been taking quite a bit of magnesium and potassium, so I probably had sufficient levels of those.)

How did I get so low on iron? Maybe it was too many Quest bars instead of red meat when I had odd cravings during my dental infection recently. Maybe because it's too hard to find liver at the grocery store and I haven't eaten much of it lately. Maybe the antibiotics damaged my intestines. And apparently, I'm a heavy bleeder. I just know that it was frightening and unpleasant. Between that and catching a stomach bug yesterday, if I'd felt much worse, I'd have checked myself into the hospital...where they might have put me on a beta blocker instead of tracking down and addressing the cause.

A fat, juicy burger probably would have done me more good--I felt wonderful after having one made of grass-fed angus that I just bought from a ranch in Yuma, near the Nebraska border. I don't know if it makes other people with heart problems feel that good--like they would want to start a religion where the cattle are worshipped, raised with care, and eaten with joy and thanks. But if they're suffering from a lack of iron, any ongoing advice for them to avoid red meat--and the healing it would give them, acknowledged by groups who now recognize that cholesterol and saturated fat were never bad for us--is unforgivable. 

Comments

Larcana said…
Glad to hear you feel better, yes, it could be all of those things. You may find that you can decrease your iron intake in a while and not have palpitations...it's a tweek thing.
tess said…
three cheers for Larcana, and for you a hurrah-at last! :-) i've been re-reading Kharazzian's brain book, and your experience reminds me of all the cases where people magically stop feeling bad when the right nutritional support is added....
Lori Miller said…
I'll decrease the dosage back to where it was, but keep an iron pill with me just in case.

If you remember The Mood Cure, The Vegetarian Myth and The Meat Fix, all those people felt almost instantly better, too, when they got the right nutrient.
Galina L. said…
When you have an infection your body takes iron from circulation. From the Wiki "in a response to a systemic bacterial infection, the immune system initiates a process known as iron withholding. If bacteria are to survive, then they must obtain iron from their environment. Disease-causing bacteria do this in many ways, including releasing iron-binding molecules called siderophores and then reabsorbing them to recover iron, or scavenging iron from hemoglobin and transferrin. The harder they have to work to get iron, the greater a metabolic price they must pay. That means that iron-deprived bacteria reproduce more slowly. So our control of iron levels appears to be an important defense against most bacterial infections"
Lori Miller said…
Interesting! I wonder if that was why I craved Quest bars and nacho cheese while I was infected: protein without iron in an attempt to starve bad bacteria. It explains why I dragged for months after an especially nasty sinus infection in college that saw me taking Cipro and wearing a heavy sweater in 90-degree weather.

Why isn't iron supplementation, or at least a test, standard operating procedure after a bad infection? Maybe eating liver or lots of red meat was a healing tradition lost in the low-fat age.
Galina L. said…
Iron metabolism is a very complicated subject. I remember reading how iron supplementation to a children in 3-rd world countries resulted in massive illnesses. It turned out that their low iron was their bodies way to keep infections at bay. It looks like iron supplementation is safe only when infection is absolutely cured (like in your case), but by the supplementation of iron doctors may increase the risk of getting microbes a bust.
Many years ago a blood transfusion was the standard practice after a serious infection like a pneumonia, but it was discontinued after many cases of spreading deceases with infected donor's blood. The last case of such massive wide-spread infection (Hepatitis C) happened in Pakistan in 2014.
Lori Miller said…
Maybe I did make myself sick--I started doubling up on iron (with vitamin C) on Sunday. Monday, I was so sick with a stomach bug I spent most of the day in bed. Well, next time I feel sick, I'll just eat the Quest bars or do a fat fast.

I see iron withholding can also occur with autoimmune diseases.
Galina L. said…
Absolutely, autoimmune conditions may lead to the withholding of iron. Also, when there is too much iron in a storage, it is a separate problem.
Lori Miller said…
I don't think it would be the cause of my normally needing to supplement iron, since I need to supplement other minerals, too.

I made chicken soup with gelatin from a roasted chicken to help undo any damage the antibiotics might have done to my gut.
Anonymous said…
Really interesting discussion above, about iron and immune issues.
I actually wandered into comments, though, to ask how much potassium you take? I've been taking a 1K supplement daily, but have some concerns as my nutritionist told me not to as I don't need it (says she), and I see lots of (vague) warnings about being careful with potassium, too much can be dangerous, etc.
My thought is the RDA is 4,500 and I don't get anywhere near that with my LC diet, even with the supplement. Would you mind sharing how much you take (or would that be seen as asking for advice - which I'm not)? I have a history of hypertension and take the K to help manage that. I believe it helps. TIA.
Lori Miller said…
Maybe around 400 to 500 mg per day. In the US, I think all they can legally put in an OTC potassium supplement is 99mg. According to the label, 99mg is 3% of your recommended daily intake. You might consider pork and avocado as good food sources of potassium.
Lori Miller said…
IIRC, some blood pressure medications are meant to block potassium. Also, magnesium is a cofactor for potassium absorption--if you're not absorbing potassium, magnesium deficiency could be the reason.
Anonymous said…
Yes, I'm magnesium deficient and working on that. It's a process, and takes a while. (I take Designs for Health Magnesium Glycinate and also Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate, but the latter is for sleep support, not sure how well it's absorbed.) I'm no longer on BP meds, so, no need to worry about what meds might do, but thanks for mentioning. Funny you mention pork and avocado, I didn't know that about pork but just had both with dinner LOL! Thanks for responding.
All best,
Wendy
Lori Miller said…
What did you have, pork rinds and guacamole? :) (I have that sometimes.)

Funny thing--last year when I was having palpitations after dental surgery and didn't know about pork, epinephrine or potassium, I was so exhausted after yoga I was worried I couldn't get home. I stopped at a wine bar and had...wait for it...the cured meat plate (potassium) and a big bottle of mineral water (magnesium). It was so good I made noises that attracted a bit of attention.
Lori Miller said…
Nutrients tend to be better absorbed with food. The -ate supplements should be well-absorbed. I don't know if you're stressed out or drink alcohol, but both will make you burn through magnesium.
Galina L. said…
A bath with Epson salt could be the extra source of a magnesium.
So pleased to hear you are feeling so much better ...

Interesting to read all the comments too.

All the best Jan
Lori Miller said…
Thanks, Jan.

Popular posts from this blog

Results of my Carrageenan-Free Diet

Readers may recall my ordeal last Saturday with a migraine headache and a trip by ambulance back to my parents' house. Thanks to one of the paramedics jogging my memory, I researched the almond milk I'd started drinking around the time I quit dairy. One of the ingredients was carrageenan, a substance used to induce inflammation, sensitivity to pain and other problems in laboratory animals. Supposedly, the "undegraded" form is safe for human consumption, but undegraded carrageenan has been found to be contaminated with degraded carrageenan, and there are ways that the digestive system could degrade carrageenan itself.

For the past few months, I've felt a little bloated, and was starting to have some mild pain in my lower stomach. I thought it might have been the effects of the antibiotics, oral steroids or decongestant (which gave me an allergic reaction) from back in February. I didn't connect it to the severe headache I had Memorial Day weekend. I've al…

Sausage-Induced Headaches: Another Clue Points to Carrageenan

A few years ago when I started a low carb diet and started eating sausage again, I found some sausages gave me a headache, but others didn't. At first, eating them was a crap shoot, but I soon found some I couldn't eat (Applegate Farms Organic & Natural Meats) and some I could (McDonald's Restaurants and Ranch Foods Direct, a local pastured meat company).

Some of Applegate Farms' products contain carrageenan (a highly processed, seaweed-based food additive used to induce pain and inflammation in research animals). McDonald's and Ranch Foods Direct sausage doesn't contain it.

Why put carrageenan in sausage? According to Applegate Farms' website,

Carrageenan, which is derived from red seaweed (Chondrus Crispus), activates extracted protein in the meat to help it bind together when formed. As the meat cooks, the heat forms a gel network, increasing moisture retention and improving the sliceability of the product. Without the addition of carrageenan, the…

My GERD is Cured! Low-carb Hits the Mark

It's a good day for paying your billsAnd it's a good day for curing your ills So take a deep breath and throw away the pills 'Cause it's a good day from mornin' til night
A low-carb diet has cured me of GERD! Thanks to the work of Dr. Norm Robillard, author of Heartburn Cured, I no longer have acid reflux--and I don't have to avoid "trigger foods" like onions, caffeine, chocolate (in the form of baking cocoa), mint, tomatoes and fat.
This is a big change from the Body-for-Life program I was on just a few months ago. Body-for-Life involves eating (among other things) six small servings of "authorized" carbs like whole-wheat bread, pasta, fruit, beans, brown rice and winter squash per day. Now I mostly eat meat, eggs, nuts and non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and green beans.
Low-carb diets defy just about every official dietary guideline out there. How often do you hear "eat plenty of healthy whole gr…