I had to quit coffee and tea to save my looks & health (it wasn’t the caffeine)
The first sign that something was wrong with me, was when I noticed my feet turned gray whenever I stood up, or exercised, so I wore socks. Then the half-moons near my nail-bed moved down my fingernails and disappeared completely, so I painted them. The five doctors I saw had no idea what was wrong with me. The several sets of tests showed that I was perfectly healthy. Lots of hairs fell out of my head, daily. After I lost half of my locks, I started freaking out. I called my doctor and told him what tests I wanted: calcium, iron, protein, vitamin D, B vitamins, kidney, heart, liver, A1C, cholesterol.
I received the blood and urine test results, which were not-at-all-clear, and I didn’t receive a call from a doctor or a nurse. Most of the results looked like they were in the acceptable range, but other results looked really low, as-in, not good. I spent hours of my own research on-line to decipher these test results, and the result is that I have anemia, which is low iron. This explains all the weird things that were happening to me, and why I no longer had enough energy for long workouts. Even though I spent several weeks researching how to increase iron levels naturally, I wanted expert advice.
After completing an online medical form, I was able to receive a Teladoc appointment through my insurance company, which is a free phone call from a doctor. He recommended an iron supplement daily, taken with orange juice. Since the side effects from iron supplements can include stomach pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, black teeth (1), trouble breathing, rash, headaches, back pain, seizures (2), and the list continues; the last thing I wanted to take was iron in pill, or liquid form.
Iron supplements can be hazardous, and should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision, with frequent follow-up tests. “When taken in excess, however, iron is far more dangerous than most prescription medications. As few as 10 ferrous sulfate tablets (total of 600 mg elemental iron) can kill a small child (3).”
Anything that’s synthetic can negatively affect the human body. I searched for, and found, a certified organic, iron supplement in pill form, entirely from vegan whole foods. The human body has a hard time getting rid of excess heme-iron, from animal products, which can mean, high iron levels. You don’t want low iron levels, and you don’t want high iron levels either. The good news is that humans can eliminate excess non-heme iron, from non-animal foods, found in plants. So, I felt completely confident and comfortable taking the vegan, whole food supplement with iron every morning, until I ended up with hives all over my body. They didn’t just itch. They burned. Those little bumps felt like bee stings.
While I don’t know for certain that the iron supplements caused the outbreak of hives, I stopped taking the iron supplements, and the hives have, so far, disappeared. Since there are other natural ways to enhance iron absorption, other than supplementation and eating meat, I stopped drinking coffee and tea entirely after learning that the tannins and polyphenols, substantially reduce iron absorption from foods. Everything I’ve read recommends drinking coffee and tea separately from meals, but I’ve decided to eliminate coffee and tea entirely, as an added precaution (I don’t want to lose any more hair!).
I’ve also been adding raw spinach, ginger and a touch of honey to my smoothies to increase my iron levels. The other thing I’ve been doing is making sure to do, in addition to eating vegan foods that contain iron, is to pair that meal with a food containing vitamin C with every meal, like red bell pepper slices, orange slices, tomatoes, and cooking on a cast-iron skillet, when possible, which boots iron absorption. My feet are looking much more normal, I see some hairs growing back on my head, and I’m waiting for the half-moons to reappear on my fingernails.
The bottom line is that, pay attention to what is going on with your body. Do your own research. Try to go the natural route first, if possible. Don’t drink coffee or tea with any of your meals, and, if you’re anemic, you may want to eliminate coffee and tea altogether.