Feeling a little sluggish? Maybe your iron levels need a boost. Editor Katy tries a simple yet effective nutritional shot to increase her energy levels.
Despite everyone telling me the second trimester of pregnancy is meant to be when you get your energy back, I was feeling anything but energised a few weeks ago. A blood test confirmed my iron level was a little on the low side, which explained things.
I’d already been taking a prenatal vitamin containing iron but I immediately resumed my Designs For Health Ferrochel Iron Chelate capsules. These contain a ‘chelated’ form of iron, meaning the iron is bonded to another molecule, in this case an amino acid, to improve absorption. (Note: you have to get this from a health practitioner in the UK as it’s not available over the counter).
I felt a bit silly, to be honest, as I’m pretty clued up on supplementation and knew you needed more iron in pregnancy so could have been taking this all along, but I’d been worried about the dreaded constipation everyone warns you about! Then I read the label and it says this form of iron doesn’t make you constipated – doh!
And even if it had made me constipated, a ton of vitamin C can sort that out. (For more on a fantastic C supplement I recommend, and still take, read my article ‘Is this the best anti-ageing skincare supplement?’ But I digress – although a useful digression, I might add, as you need vitamin C at the same time as iron as the former helps you absorb the latter, so I take them together.
So, a few weeks back I was at Food Matters Live at London’s ExCel, and got chatting to a nutritionist selling a range of superfood powders. I told her I’d been feeling tired and she immediately said: ‘Oh you need spirulina – it’s packed full of iron.’
As with the Ferrochel capsules, I also knew I had some spirulina powder tucked away at home at the back of a cupboard – and a really top brand at that as it’s the blue-green variety sourced from pristine waters in Hawaii: Creative Nature Hawaiian Spirulina Powder
Spirulina is a great source of vegan protein and so many vitamins and minerals, but I often don’t use it as, let’s be honest, it smells and tastes like pond water. And, it makes anything you add it to look and taste foul too.
So, how was the nutritionist using it – and getting her kids to drink it too? Simply by mixing it with lime juice and a little water.
As soon as I got home, I found the jar – out of date by a few months but I thought what the heck, it’s not like it’s months-old meat or anything – and gave it a go. The ‘recipe’, if you can even call it that as it’s so easy, is here
Iron-rich spirulina shots
- Put a quarter of a teaspoon of spirulina powder into a glass.
- Squeeze quite a lot of fresh lime juice into it – depending on your palate. I gave half a lime a good squeeze!
- Add a splash of cold water.
- Use a teaspoon to mix it all up, smoothing out the lumps as best possible. You could use a blender to get a smooth consistency but I can never be bothered as you waste most of the powder up the side of the blender.
- Sip it or knock it back! The lime completely takes away the horrible pond-water taste.
Within a few days of taking both the above – spirulina and Ferrochel capsules – I felt my energy return. Walking up hills no longer felt like climbing Everest.
But you needn’t be pregnant to try this. Lots of women, especially those with anaemia, are low in iron, so rather than taking stuff that will bung you up, why not try this? The extra bonus of spirulina is that it has loads of other health benefits, including:
- Supporting cardiovascular health
- Providing a high level of antioxidant protection.
- Stimulating your metabolism.
- Keeping your eyes and brain healthy (thanks to zeaxanthin)
- Massively boosting B12, needed for energy and healthy blood.