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  1. #1
    Needs More Beer GracefulRoll's Avatar
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    Exclamation Anemia, Monthly Gift, and the Trail

    I tend to get heavy periods and I get a little anemic. How do those who thru-hike combat deficiency?

    What foods and supplements help you the most? Vitamin C is a great way to help iron absorption (reduction agent), but if it's not a heme iron source, it's hard to absorb it, anyway. For example, if you eat tons of spinach, you probably will not only not absorb most of the iron, but also inhibit the absorption of it from oxalic acid oxidizing the iron, making it not able to be absorbed through the small intestine to bind with transferrin (iron transport protein). However, if you eat more red meat or natural heme iron sources, the iron is more bioavailable to the body.

    Has anyone noticed that non enteric coated iron tablets and simultaneous Vit C intake help anemic symptoms on a thru-hike, especially with higher elevations (see 2,3-BPG and altitude changes). It's kind of hard to eat quality red meat if you're on the trail for days at a time and on a budget.
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  2. #2
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    What about iron supplements? It'd be easy for you to take an iron pill with your breakfast.

  3. #3
    A♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ 10♣ Luddite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GracefulRoll View Post
    It's kind of hard to eat quality red meat if you're on the trail for days at a time and on a budget.
    I've been a vegetarian for a significant portion of my life and have never been anemic. I know its easier for women to go anemic. Eat beans, green leafy veggies, and foods rich in Vitamin C. I doubt the low elevations of the Appalachian mountains will effect anything.
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    A♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ 10♣ Luddite's Avatar
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    BTW, I wasn't trying to spread my vegetarian propaganda in the last post. You could always eat beef jerky on the trail too.
    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
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  5. #5
    Registered User Sierra Echo's Avatar
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    Iron pills will turn your poop black!

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    A♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ 10♣ Luddite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sierra Echo View Post
    Iron pills will turn your poop black!
    Yeah, its alway better to get your vitamins in food.
    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
    -Edward Abbey

  7. #7

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    You may not have heard. . . there is a relatively new medication on the market now for people who do have have "heavy periods." Perhaps you should see your GYN and check on this before you get ready to leave.

    There are also pills you could use to reduce the number of periods you actually have - which is the option I would take if I were in the thru hike situation.

  8. #8

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    I am severely anemic - it isn't fun to say the least. I take iron along with a good diet (baby #2 sucked everything out of me this past year - he was a huge baby that apparently thought I didn't need iron) under my doctor's guidance. With iron supplements there are different types, I found one that doesn't chew up my stomach or cause other "issues" but it took a bit of tinkering.

    After a couple weeks you get used to the iron and most stomach issues go away as well! But do ask if supplements are OK, some other medications can be hampered by it.

    On heavy periods - if you go over 4 days yeah anemia is a real issue.
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  9. #9
    NOBO 2011 thru MapleLeaf's Avatar
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    I'm in the same boat. I reacted horribly to any iron pill I've ever taken. I spoke to my doctor about it and she suggested taking the pill that limited how many periods you have. That way I'm not bleeding heavily for a week out of every month I'm on the trail. Also research meat options on the trail becase the easily assorbed iron is heme based iron. Everytime you go into town, find a place with a salad bar and load up on leafy greens, beans and items high in Vitamin C. You can also avoid anything with tannic acid, phytic acid, coffee, cocoa, egg protien and certain herbs that inhibit absorption. Talk to your doctor. They can help.
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  10. #10

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    BTW, drinking OJ with any iron is a good idea. Aids in absorption, not trail friendly of course, but good for home.
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  11. #11
    Registered User Turtle2's Avatar
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    Add raisins to your trail diet. They will help boost the iron level.
    Turtle2

  12. #12
    aka "Skittles" redmarbleshoe's Avatar
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    My Weight Loss clinic does B6 and B12 injections. One of the things B6 helps with is Anemia. Now this is in reference to an injectable form. We do not have much more info on how it helps as we just focus on the weight loss aspect. But I was thinking, maybe bring in a good B complex supplement that has as much B6 in it as possible. Or just take B6 by itself. Just a thought. Good luck.
    SKITTLES

  13. #13

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    You may also find that your periods won't be as heavy while you're hiking. I've never thru hiked, but that's been my experience.

    Bringing a high-iron breakfast cereal to snack on dry may also help. That's what I did when I was borderline anemic. I was also told to avoid combining calcium-rich and iron-rich food. Apparently, calcium inhibits iron absorption.

  14. #14
    Registered User Vinya's Avatar
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    Even though I'm not OP, this has been an awesome thread with answers; it's been one of the questions on my mind as well. I haven't had problems with my abnormally heavy period since I went on the pill, but anemia is still an issue I've been concerned with. Good things to keep in mind when I prepare for the trail. Thanks everyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite View Post
    I've been a vegetarian for a significant portion of my life and have never been anemic. I know its easier for women to go anemic. Eat beans, green leafy veggies, and foods rich in Vitamin C. I doubt the low elevations of the Appalachian mountains will effect anything.
    Luddite, as a man, why are you commenting about women's monthly periods and anemia? Do you know something that us women don't know about?

  16. #16
    Registered User Doc Mike's Avatar
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    Sincw I'm a man pardon the interuption, but as a doc i deal with this almost daily.
    If your periods make you anemic it is time to discuss this with your doctor. We can reduce or eliminate periods and solve the problem.

    Doc Mike

  17. #17

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    I usually have really heavy, painful and long periods. But when thru-hiking my periods became few and far between, they also became sort of pleasant(in comparison). It's like being a professional athlete, the constant exercise sort of makes your period go away.

    I'm not sure if this helps at all.

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