*Results may vary. The information in this site is NOT to be construed as medical advice. Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious condition and if you have it, you should see a doctor. I am not a doctor and am not able to dispense medical advice. My husband saw a doctor (many of them) and they were able to do things for him that I could not. However, they were unable to recommend alternative treatments, and in MY OPINION they were VERY beneficial to my husband, so I am providing some of that information here. My husband and I tried all of these alternative therapies at our own risk, and if you try them you will be doing the same. At your own risk. No promises are made in this blog. I am not saying there is a cure for cirrhosis or any other condition. However, I believe most people can get well, like my husband did. My husband is alive, happy, productive, functional and has his energy back. He no longer worries about having to go on disability or getting a $577,000 liver transplant. Cirrhosis is a serious condition. He is currently in the fibrosis stage (Stage 2 liver disease), which is still serious. I cannot guarantee you will have the same results. I just want you to know about what worked well for my husband. I hope you will share what you learned with others, and share your story with us as well. This blog was made for YOU! Thanks for visiting!

Monday, January 16, 2017

How to Raise Your Iron Levels (and keep them from being depleted)!

Iron deficiency can be a very serious problem for people with cirrhosis. Please take this seriously, as I know two people who passed away in the last 6 months who were were having a very difficult time raising their iron levels (and one was not able to get a transfusion, because she was a Jehovah's Witness and it was against her religion).   5/11/18: Please note, another woman who is a Jehovah's Witness just told me about this stuff called EPO that sounds pretty amazing...  I just learned about this and had to share it with you guys. You can CLICK HERE for a google search on IPO. I don't have time to research it right now but I want to put it here.

UPDATE 1-10-20: Please also be sure to read THIS POST, because there is a chance that increased oxygen could possibly help increase hemoglobin levels.

I found this graphic on Quora, and thought you might want to see it also (I just learned this myself). You can see the post here: https://www.quora.com/How-many-haemoglobin-molecules-are-present-in-each-red-blood-cell


I don't know why, but I just had this weird hunch today, that Vitamin D3 levels could somehow be associated with hemoglobin levels. Maybe I think that, because when I take enough D3, I just feel really uplifted, almost as if my blood is healthier. So I googled it, and this is what I found... click on the link to read the article.

Please check out this article:


Vitamin D and Anemia: Insights into an Emerging Association  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4659411/

Study finds active vitamin D is associated with hemoglobin levels in older men. ... Anemia is a decrease in the amount of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout the body, in the blood.Feb 10, 2015
I want to note that I found some of the studies kind of confusing. Like, with THIS ONE.... I am not sure why the study only lasted 5 days. Couldn't the group that "just" took 50,000 IU of D3, have shown an increased hemoglobin level, if they'd taken it for, say, a month?  At the very least, it sounds like it couldn't hurt, given that people with cirrhosis are extremely Vitamin D3 deficient.

I recently learned that there are a few common things that can EASILY be preventing your body from absorbing iron and calcium!

Proton Pump Inhibitors actually prevent iron absorption AND calcium absorption. I learned this about two years ago.  You can read more about the dangers of PPIs by clicking HERE. And HERE. And HERE.  Ask me how I really feel about Proton Pump Inhibitors!!

But PPIs aren't the only thing that can prevent the body from absorbing iron.

I only recently learned that calcium prevents iron absorption!  So yes, cow's milk can prevent iron absorption (I am NOT a big fan of cow's milk, for many reasons, but in addition I truly believe it can cause excessive bloating and encephalopathy in a person with stage 4 cirrhosis). Caffeine, chocolate, tea and coffee can prevent iron absorption. And anything with high levels of tannins (found in tea). And SODA is apparently a big no-no, as well.

I had no idea of this simple thing that could have made it SO easy to prevent my own low iron levels for the last 9 months! I was taking calcium at the same time as my iron supplements, and if I'd just taken them separately, I could have avoided this problem!  I couldn't help wondering how many other people have this same issue, because a person with cirrhosis can easily be low on iron AND calcium, and Jake's doctor told him to take Citracal... but he never said anything about taking it SEPARATELY from any iron supplements!

Everyone who thinks they must have a lot of iron because they consume a lot of meat and dairy should check out this article on PubMed.

Calcium and iron absorption: mechanism of action and nutritional importance.


We investigated the inhibitory effect of calcium on iron absorption in 57 human subjects. Three studies suggested that the effect is not located in the gastrointestinal tract. The presence of phytate in a meal and formation of calcium-iron-phytate complexes is not a prerequisite for the inhibition. The relative increase in iron absorption by ascorbic acid was the same in meals with and without calcium, suggesting that calcium did not influence the balance between enhancing and inhibiting ligands in the gastrointestinal lumen. No inhibiting effect on iron absorption was seen when adding 3 mg calcium to 0.01 mg iron (molar ratio Ca/Fe = 420). Previous studies showing a marked inhibition by calcium had a lower molar ratio, but greater amounts of calcium were given. This suggests that a minimal concentration of calcium is needed to achieve an effect. The present results indirectly support our original hypothesis that the inhibitory effect of calcium on iron absorption is situated within the intestinal mucosal cells. The practical nutritional implications of the inhibitory effect of calcium are considerable since addition of milk, milkshake or cheese to common meals such as pizza or hamburger meals reduced iron absorption by 50-60%. It is recommended to reduce the intake of dairy products with the main meals providing most of the dietary iron, especially for those having the highest iron requirements i.e. children, teenagers and women at childbearing age.

Proper iron levels / hemoglobin = increased oxygen

My husband had a blood transfusion while he was in the hospital, and while I was NOT keen on this idea, I couldn't help but notice how much better he felt, after the procedure. There was a very obvious change in his energy level, which made me want to study alternative ways to improve the quality and oxygen levels in his blood (which is how I learned about PEMF).

When I was 19, I was experiencing what I thought might be chronic fatigue. My Aunt told me to take Geritol, and although I was hesitant because I thought that was just a supplement for little old ladies... I actually did feel a lot better, after I took it (side note: you would not believe how many rave reviews this stuff has on Amazon right now). It seemed weird that I was anemic, because I ate a good amount of meat at the time, but that didn't seem to make a difference, and my diet wasn't very good. And anemia does run in my family.

Well, fast forward to 2016, and I was once again experiencing anemia.  I donate blood regularly to a hospital that saved my father's life over 20 years ago (see, I actually don't hate hospitals)!  Donating blood can also be a good way to see where your iron and cholesterol levels are at.

Well, sadly I failed my hemoglobin test, about 5 of the last 7 times I've tried to donate. I couldn't figure out what was going on, since I've been donating regularly for the last 3 years, and this seemed to start happening over the last 9 months, and it wasn't an issue before. I know that in the past, if I was taking Visalus supplements, I would always pass with no problem... but I ran out of the vitamins, so I wondered if maybe that was why I was "flunking." I don't eat meat, but I've been vegetarian for the better part of 20 years, and the anemia didn't seem to be an issue till now (if you scroll down you will see an article that shows, just because you eat meat, doesn't mean you will have a better iron level, and in fact, if you have too much iron from meat you'll be at a higher risk for heart disease).

A good friend had given me some of her Hema-Plex, to try, and I couldn't believe how well it worked! When I took it, I passed my hemoglobin test very easily (just taking one a day, for 5 days before the donation). But I ran out of those, too.

Side note: be sure to take this as directed, as with any iron supplement... YOU REALLY CAN GET SICK FROM TAKING TOO MUCH IRON AT ONCE. I somehow forgot you're only supposed to take one of these per day, for 5 days, not 5 in one day, for one day...and I got so nauseous after the blood donation, I started to "white out" (like a blackout, only everything was turning white). I started vomiting. It was bad. Thank God they were well prepared at the donation center and had barf bags on hand! And luckily I had a full 40 oz container of detox water with me. I know this will sound nuts but when everything started turning white, all I could think of is, OMG I DON'T HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE I CANNOT PASS OUT AND WIND UP IN A HOSPITAL!!! And I started glugging it like crazy and my eyesight completely returned to normal within about 30 seconds. 

But I was taking Geritol, pretty consistently, and I still failed when I tried to donate last week. My hemoglobin was just 11.2, and it needs to be 12.5 in order to donate. I was so annoyed. I'd been drinking veggie shakes with vitamin C (which helps you absorb the iron) AND I was taking Geritol, consistently, ever day! What the heck!

Calcium was the Culprit!

Well, the nurse who checked my blood that day was the FIRST person to ever ask me if I'd been taking calcium supplements, because calcium can interfere with the absorption of iron. And SURE ENOUGH... THAT WAS IT! I've been taking extra calcium, just about every day for the last nine months, in an effort to re-grow a tooth that I cracked about 2 years ago. And I was taking this calcium AT THE SAME TIME as my iron supplements and my green smoothies! In fact, I would sometimes even put calcium INTO my husband's spinach smoothies (with extra vitamin C) and I had NO idea this could be preventing him from absorbing the iron I was trying so hard to get  him to ingest!

It kind of blows my mind that none of the other nurses who told me that I'd just failed my blood test, ever told me about this calcium-blocking-iron-absorption thing! And it happened five times! You'd think this would be a standard procedure, but... nope. There was one nurse who did give me a sheet showing ways I could actually increase my iron levels, and I did do some of the tricks on that list, but none of it was doing any good while I was taking extra calcium WITH the iron-rich foods!

I want to add this because I ordered it recently. Because I am someone who has a hard time getting my iron levels up, and I ran out of Hema-Plex, I decided to try something new. The last time I donated blood, I felt really sick, and I was started to think that maybe I try too hard to raise my iron levels too quickly.

So, I ordered this supplement below, after seeing that it doesn't cause nausea. I didn't think I was going to pass my blood test, to be able to donate blood, but I have to say.... I passed!  My hemoglobin was exactly 12.5.

MegaFood, Blood Builder, Daily Iron Supplement and Multivitamin, Supports Energy and Red Blood Cell Production Without Nausea or Constipation, Gluten-Free, Vegan, 60 Tablets (60 Servings) (FFP)

I also really believe that Visalus shakes helped me (I ran out of the vitamins and just did a few green shakes with Visalus shake mix in them). I had been drinking the Visalus most of the week before I donated. I did skip a few days, by accident, but I still passed.

CLICK HERE to go to my post about Visalus.

UPDATE July 2019: I can verify that these actually do work, it helped me to get a normal hemoglobin level and I did have my Visalus shakes that whole week, but I wasn't doing as many green shakes as I normally do.  No nausea at all. I am impressed with this.

Also wanted to post, I noticed one reviewer felt that it helped her with swelling, which is an issue for most people with cirrhosis. I have no idea if this is truly from the supplement or not but she seemed to think it was related.  You be the judge.

October 5, 2017
I have severe headaches constantly. And the left side of my body has poor blood circulation. When i'm sitting up, the headaches can be so bad they cause me to be very dizzy and nauseous. I JUST started these a week and a half ago. I was taking iron tablets previously that made me sick and honestly did nothing for me. And i can already feel the difference. It didn't kill the headaches but it really does relieve them to a point where i can hold my head up again. I have also noticed that in less than 2 weeks, the swelling in my foot isn't nearly as bad. So i'm going to keep taking these and hope it only gets better from here. I will update after a month to verify if they are still doing their job. So glad i listened to the positive reviews. If there was anything to not like about them, it's the size and smell, but to me that is ALL vitamins, but after taking them i don't taste them in my mouth constantly and they don't make my breath smell like vitamins :)

Also, when I was getting my blood checked, the woman who tested my blood, told me about Moringa leaf, saying that it boosts iron levels.

  Organic Moringa Oleifera Leaf Powder - Perfect for Smoothies, Drinks, Tea & Recipes - 100% Raw From India - 16oz Resealable Bag (1 Pound) - by Feel Good Organics

You can read about Moringa on this page (including a few side effects):

 Also, I have heard that Chlorella helps to boost hemoglobin levels.

Premium Chlorella Spirulina | 1,250 Tablets (4 Months Supply) | Non-GMO | Vegan | Sunlight Grown | Deep Green Color | Cracked Cell Wall | Alkalizing | High Protein | by Good Natured

This brand had a pretty decent review (though I have to say, the amount this person takes, is a LOT. I don't know if a person with cirrhosis could take this much, but even if they were able to consume a smaller amount, over time, maybe it could help at least a little. You'd have to experiment on your own. I do believe that the tablets are fairly small.

August 6, 2016
Based on my research, I started taking these three weeks ago to help with my anemia. For six weeks I took iron tabs and it did nothing for my hemoglobin levels. After four days of these, my level shot up from 8 to 10.6! And continues to increase. My skin is clear! My hair and nails are growing! I have more energy (I am 42, and have not felt energy like this since I was a teenager)! I haven't felt this great in years! Based on my research I take 40 tabs twice daily. I believe most are taking the minimum suggested dose, and would see greater results by increasing the tab amount. All in all I'm elated! I DID NOT RECEIVE THESE AT A DISCOUNT FOR MY REVIEW! This is my honest opinion!!!!

 This one had pretty good reviews, too...

 Organic Chlorella and Spirulina 3000MG, 720 Tablets, 120 Servings, Rich in Antioxidant, Prebiotics, Chlorophyll, Amino Acids, Fiber and Proteins, No GMO and Vegan Friendly

April 11, 2019
This bag will last you months! Only 6 tablets a day VS 15 tablets that a used to take with another brand.
When I first went vegan I became really anemic! My hemoglobin was 8 now it's 14!
These give you so much energy. Naturally. About to order my second bag.

This is a pretty good article about things that can hurt your iron levels. 


The Foods That Hurt Your Iron Levels

Mom is best described as a stubborn health nut—when I was a kid, she'd rather have me burn off germs with a good, natural fever than take Tylenol. But one day this summer a fever hit her, and it didn't let up for nine days. When her home remedies weren't bringing relief, she went to a physician and discovered that her iron levels were severely low, so low that her immune system was down and open to a small bug, which wouldn't leave without a week of swigs of Floradix, a liquid iron supplement she'd used in the past for moderate upkeep or rare occasions like this.

There had never been an occasion so dire, and the cause came as a shock, even to her doctor. A few select foods—healthy foods in any other light (including herbal tea) —were in fact depleting her iron levels. This realization was overwhelming for her, not unlike legendary mathematician John Nash finding out he'd lost his mind, all the while thinking he was on the brink of brilliance.
Americans eagerly jump and sway between diets, adjusting to each political-environmental debacle and the latest nutritional findings. But whether you are vegetarian, carnivorous, vegan, or wheat-free, there are still core nutrient levels that your body needs to maintain, and one of the most common nutritional imbalances is iron deficiency. Affecting at least 20 percent of American women, this form of anemia is defined as "a chronic state of diminished hemoglobin" —the oxygen-transporting component of red blood cells— "caused by a lack of iron, or poor absorption of iron." This comes straight from nutritionist Dr. Linda Page'sHealthy Healing, Mom's most dog-eared alternative health book.
Hardcore meat eaters may call vegetarians weak lettuce lovers, but few realize that red meat, although it builds muscle, is not actually any better a source of iron than greens.
Without enough iron, the body becomes fatigued—in extreme cases, to the point of compromised cognition and speech. But we all get tired, so without routine blood tests, many people don't even realize their iron levels are low until they get indirect symptoms like a fever, and by then levels are dangerously low. If the condition goes untreated, they can need blood transfusions.

Mom didn't get that far, but she was close. Before the summer, her run-ins with iron deficiency moderately waxed and waned but were ultimately maintained by Floradix. Her midwife had introduced her to the magic stuff during her pregnancy, when women are particularly vulnerable, but she first discovered she was anemic at age 14. This was in the 1960s, when kids were told to eat their spinach—remember Popeye the sailor? He nearly smoked the stuff through his pipe. It's no wonder he fancied a girl named Olive Oyl and adopted her daughter Swee'Pea; together, they align in an iron vortex of dark leafy greens, legumes, and extracted plant fat.
A common misconception comes with equating iron with protein. Hardcore meat eaters may call vegetarians weak lettuce lovers, but few realize that red meat, although it builds muscle, is not actually any better a source of iron than greens. Red meat also contains a different form of iron ("heme") that the body can over-absorb, as opposed to that found in dark greens ("non-heme"). When taking in spinach, our bodies can tell when we've had enough iron (the rest gets filtered out), but iron from meat gets absorbed much more quickly and doesn't stop; this is a possible cause of heart disease.

Many other unexpected foods can also deplete the body of iron: soda, cow's milk, chocolate, tea, and coffee. Anything with high tannins (tea) or caffeine content may lend a boost of energy and may even be nutritious in many ways, but ironically, for people prone to iron deficiency, large amounts of these foods and drinks can actually block cells from absorbing a full dose of iron. During the early stages of Mom's fever, I stressed that she drink tea with Echinacea, an herb thought to boost the immune system. Silly me. I might as well have given her cyanide.

While Mom lay on the couch with no concrete dietary recommendations from her doctor (he prescribed iron pills), she and I searched through alternative medical books and drafted a grocery list. In addition to spinach (most effective when eaten raw or lightly cooked), I searched the aisles for whole grains, brown rice, beets, almonds, dried fruit, bananas, oranges, pineapple, broccoli, green peppers, beans, cruciferous vegetables (like Brussels sprouts), and cultured foods like soy, kefir, and yogurt. If she weren't vegan, I would have also picked up eggs, seafood (especially clams or oysters), and organ meats like chicken livers. As well as iron-rich food, the body also needs food that will help it absorb the iron: those containing manganese, vitamin C, and potassium. Within a week, Mom was back to normal.

Most important, don't wait till a crash. Shuffle these items into a daily diet or at least give them some weekly spots. Feeling particularly low? Take a shot of Floradix, available in the supplement aisle at most health food stores, the nearest Whole Foods Market included. Its combination of highly soluble iron, vitamins B and C, and herbal extracts allow for an estimated 25-percent absorption rate over iron pills' 2 to 10 percent. As with any supplement, though, Floradix should not replace a healthy diet. However, Popeye-advised or not, it is good to have around.

Here are some links for how to increase your IPO:

Diet for Increasing Your Natural EPO | Hammer Nutrition

Hypoxia or Anemia stimulates the kidney production of erythropoietin to increase production red blood cellsEPO released from the kidneys increases the rate of red blood cell division and differentiation of specific cells in the bone marrow. ... Pharmacologic modulation of erythropoietin production.

What Is Erythropoietin (EPO)? Test, Definition, Side Effects

Dec 5, 2014 - Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone produced by the kidney. Erythropoietin promotes the formation of red blood cells by the bone marrow. ... Erythropoietin can be synthesized and used as a treatment of some forms of anemia. Erythropoietin has been misused as a performance-enhancing drug by some athletes.

Red blood cells in sports: effects of exercise and training on oxygen ...

by H Mairbäurl - ‎2013 - ‎Cited by 116 - ‎Related articles
Nov 12, 2013 - The mechanisms that increase total red blood cell mass by training are not ..... toincrease performance, which makes it difficult to establish “normal values” .... In the adult, the oxygen sensor controlling EPO production is in the ...

Erythropoietin 101 and How to Increase EPO Naturally - Selfhacked

https://www.selfhacked.com › Testing › Hormones
 Rating: 4.6 - ‎13 votes
Oct 11, 2017 - Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone that helps treat Anemia, kidney diseases. It ... It is a protein signaling molecule for red blood cell (erythrocyte) ...

EPO Blood Building - The New Rage In Bodybuilding And Sports ...

https://www.bodybuilding.com › Nutrition › Supplementation
by D Gastelu - ‎Related articles
Jan 3, 2018 - EPO (erythropoietin) is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body and primarily functions to stimulate the production of new red blood cells. Increasing the amount of red blood cellsincreases the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood to deliver more oxygen to exercising muscles.

Erythropoietin-Stimulating Agents | Cleveland Clinic

In order to make red blood cells, the body maintains an adequate supply of erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that is produced by the ... Having more red blood cells raises your hemoglobin levels. ... Anemia can be caused by the body's inability to produce enough EPO. ... It is produced by cloning the gene for erythropoietin.
Hope this helps!
If you haven't already seen it, please also check out my post about calcium deficiency. This is serious, business, guys... Osteoporosis is NOT something you want to get. The long term damage could be permanent, and sadly, the doctors didn't tell us about some simple things we could do, to keep this from happening.


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