On January 16, 2010, in Minerals, by Andrea

Well, it’s been a month.  Or close to it since I started my experiment with Proferrin.

Due to some other issues that I was fairly certain were unrelated to my WLS, I decided to bite the bullet, go ahead and get my yearly lab draw out of the way.  I mean, last year I had hit my deductible by the first week in February when I had an outpatient surgery so I wanted to see if I could at least come close to cleaning out the FSA with my lab work and some blood work the kids are bound to have next week.  It’s a morbid little game I play that is somewhat depressing, but reminds me that I have it so much better of than many others out there.

In any case, I needed to have a draw done to rule out some other issues.  So I figured I’d update the status of the Proferrin experiment.

Unfortunately, not all of the values are identical, and the labs were not the same labs that did the testing — but I think we can get enough out of this to draw a few conclusions.  If not, you’re going to nod sagely, pretend that we could because it’s 10:20pm, the youngest is refusing to go to bed, it’s been a long day, and that’s that.  Kay?  That’s what I thought.

Ranges are for the lab that did the draw.  Remember, different labs, thus different ranges.  Hey, I wish there were standardized ranges, too.

HGB – 12.6  (12.0 – 18.0 g/dl)
HCT – 39.7%  (37.0 – 51.0%)
Ferritin – 11.1  (11-137 ng/ml)
Iron – 41  (37 – 170 ug/dl)
TIBC – 310  (265 – 497 ug/dl)
Iron Saturation – 13%  (20-55%)


HGB – 13.13  (12.0 – 15.0 g/dl)
HCT – 38.21%  (35.0 – 49.0%)
Ferritin – 16.3  (6 – 81 ng/ml premenopausal *which seems odd cause post is 14-186….?*)
Iron – 45  (28 – 182 ug/ml)
UIBC – 326  (130 – 375 ug/dl)
TIBC – 371  (180 – 545 ug/dl)
Iron Sat – Not measured

So what happened?

Well, in a month, my ferritin shot up 5 points and my serum iron went up 4.  Even the TIBC went up quite a bit, which would make me think that iron saturation would have if it had been measured by the second lab (which was asked for, by the way.. along with some other things that weren’t reported.. I’m hoping they were just delayed)

Now, all of this is assuming that the labs are accurate across the board.  For the sake of argument — THEY ARE.  I mean, there’s no way to say they are or aren’t and we have to trust something in this world, so let’s let this be one of those things that we trust.  That the labs are somewhat on an even keel in the measurement of things.

So for now, I am going to continue the Proferrin as planned — 3x a day.  It seems to be working.. and will retest.  I see my GI doc, who is convinced he is the one following my iron in February and I plan to get a lab slip from him to test all of this at the end of the experiment.  So we’ll get a better idea as to what the true answer is.

But so far?  Yeah, it’s working for me.  And I have to admit, the whole not having to wait 2 hours around calcium thing is pretty nice.


On December 10, 2009, in Minerals, by Andrea
Heme and Poly iron

Heme and Poly iron (And the products underneath...)

Bifera is the only over-the-counter (OTC) iron supplement to offer both heme iron (protein-based iron) and non-heme iron (plant-based iron). Unlike other iron supplements, Bifera provides two types of iron in one small, easy-to-swallow pill for maximum absorption with virtually no GI side effects.

For years, the popular prescription prenatal supplement PreferaOB has provided the nutritional community with an oral iron combination that offers both heme and non-heme iron in one small pill with virtually no side effects. Now, for the first time, this innovation in an iron supplement will be available over-the-counter in the same form, without the prenatal folic acid, in an iron supplement known as Bifera.

I’ve mentioned that I’m doing an experiment with Proferrin – a purely heme-iron based product to help boost my crappy iron scores.  While in Walgreens, and now CVS (complete with iPhone at hand this time, and the presence of mind to use it), I found this — a Proferrin / Poly iron blend.  And it’s relatively cheap compared to the Proferrin.  Admittedly it’s not as strong , but it’s readily available for those who aren’t wanting to purchase online or aren’t willing to take the plunge with something so completely “different” in terms of iron.

Bifera’s website has more info, plenty of propaganda information, and ooh!  A $2 coupon.

General Iron Info

On December 7, 2009, in Minerals, by Andrea

Some of the things discussed in our post-op health can be a bit confusing.  Iron is one of those things, IMHO.  So how about a session just on iron?

What is iron?
Iron is a mineral that can be found in plants, animals, soil, air, water, meteorites, and rocks, including on the surface of the moon.  Here on earth, plants absorb iron through their root systems; animals eat these plants.  Humans consume these plants and animals.  Many think iron is a heavy metal, which it is not.  Iron is an essential micronutrient.  Essential used in this way means that the body does not produce the nutrient; micronutrient means that the body only requires tiny amounts to function.

Types of iron?
There are two forms of iron – heme and nonheme.  Nonheme iron primarily comes from plants and heme iron comes primarily from meat.
Nonheme iron represents the majority of iron humans consume in their diets and is the type of iron in most supplements.  Nonheme iron is inorganic and is found in grains such as rice, wheat and oats.  It’s also found in nuts, fruits, vegetables, most iron pills, fortificants, or contaminant iron such as from water, soil or cooking utensils.
Meat, especially red meat is the best source of heme iron.  Heme iron is easily absorbed by the body and the best source of iron for people who are iron deficient.

Iron terminology

  • Transferrin – a protein that is the major transporter of iron and ideally is saturated with 25-35% iron; when working properly, transferrin binds to iron and transports it to all tissues, vital organs, and bone marrow so that normal metabolism, DNA synthesis, and red blood cell production can take place
  • Ferritin - a protein that acts like a large holding vessel; contains iron that we don’t presently need
  • Hemaglobin (hgb) – a protein that transports oxygen to the body
  • Hematocrit (hct) – proportion of blood volume that is occupied by red blood cells

So someone who is anemic can still have normal hemaglobin and hematicrit numbers because their ferritin is being depleted in order to maintain those counts.  But if the ferritin is in the toilet and no relief comes, the hgb and hct will eventually fall as well.

Types of non-heme supplemental iron:

  • Ferric salts: These include ferrous sulfate, gluconate, and fumarate.  Typically, the way these compounds are made is that pure iron is dissolved in sulfuric or hydrochloric acid.  Once dissolved, a counter ion  is added and the pH is adjusted to make neutral once again.  When this happens, the iron binds to the counter-ion and drops out of the liquid solution.  The slurry is then dehydrated and the dry stuff that is left is the iron salt.  Ferric salts, especially ferrous sulfate, are not known to be easy on the digestive tract.  Once ingested, it is imperative that the stomach contains acid to dissolve the iron salt.  If a person is taking antacids or H2 blockers, their stomach will be “achlorhydric” – their stomach won’t contain acid and the iron salt will not dissolve.
  • Carbonyl iron is often used by physicians because it is less toxic to accidental overdose.
  • Polysaccharide iron is a newer form that is coming up in popularity, absorbs better than the ferric salts, but is more expensive than the standard supplementation routes.

I discuss my current experiment with the heme iron, Proferrin, here.  Information about it from the Iron Disorders Institute:

About Proferrin(tm):  Performance studies indicate that iron absorption rates are between 15% and 20% withoute erythropoietin (EPO) therapy and as high as 30% with EPO therapy even in patients with high serum ferritin values (>600 ng/ml).  In one study, the change in serum iron from Proferrin(tm) was nearly 23 times greater than from an identical dose of ferrous fumarate.  Also, study participants were able to tolerate up to 60 mgs per dose on an empty stomach with fewer gastrointestinal side effects; a common complaint from patients taking traditional oral iron preparations.  An additional benefit of heme iron supplementation is that patients can take it with their meals, unlike ionic iron preparations, which must be taken on an empty stomach between meals.

Info courtesy of the Iron Disorders Institute

Guinea Pig? Yeahsureyoubetcha!

On December 3, 2009, in Minerals, Reviews, by Andrea

I want it plainly made clear that I will do things for my peeps — those of you in the WLS family that I wouldn’t do for many others.  Got it?  Good.  Lavish praise, free samples, protein to sample, My Little Ponies for the pre-schooler to dress up, balls for the toddler to throw at my head while I blog are all welcome to show your happiness at my willingness to be your guinea pig.  Just call me Winnie.

WonderPets WonderPets We're On Our Way!  (With IRON!)

WonderPets WonderPets We're On Our Way! (With IRON!)

So last night, during a not-so-routine check with a doctor, I had a blood draw.  This was after I dazzled him with my vitamin knowledge, and sharing my recent harrowing experience with blood draws of my children and not really wanting to drag them along.  Realizing that I probably knew more than he did, he walked to the lab and said “draw whatever she wants” — and she did after consulting her book as some of it wasn’t her norm.

So what does all of this mean for you?  I’m GETTING THERE.  It’s been a LONG day at work.  I’m slow.

I have issues with iron.  My hematacrit (hct) and hemaglobin (hgb) are always fine (which are the two main things that are determining factors for “anemia”) but my ferritin is in the single digits.  I have been taking 600mgs of elemental chemical iron, in three forms — polysaccharide, carbonyl, and fumarate.  And before someone does the smartass “But Andrea, are you taking it with C?  Away from calcium?  Away from tannins?  Away from legumes and whole grains?  With vitamin A?  Is your B-12 good?  What about copper and zinc — that chick on OH says you need those, too!”  Remember to whom you are asking.  OF COURSE I HAVE.  DUH.  For some reason, I just don’t absorb the chemical iron.  My ferritin has stayed at a 7 for over a year now.

So last night, I got a full iron panel pulled.  I have the hct and hgb levels now, but am waiting for the rest in the mail in about a week.  Hgb is 12.6 (12.0 – 18.0) and hct is 39.7 (37-51).  Not horrible, high enough to donate blood.

I’ve heard of Proferrin, which is a heme iron — something completely different.

Wonder Iron?

Wonder Iron?


Increased Absorption*

Absorbing iron orally is difficult and Proferrin helps solve this problem. A study performed at the University of Colorado compared taking 20 mg. of elemental iron as heme iron polypeptide to taking 20 mg. of ionic iron (ferrous fumarate) with a standard meal. The study demonstrated that HIP increased serum iron levels 23 times greater than ionic iron on a milligram-per-milligram basis.1

Contains Only Iron from Natural Sources*

The HIP in Proferrin is extracted from hemoglobin, a naturally occurring iron source found in red meat and poultry.2 Proferrin does not contain common allergens, such as milk or wheat products, gluten, or significant amounts of oils or fats. If you have specific allergies, please contact your physician or Colorado Biolabs for more information.

Doesn’t Compete with Other Nutrients*

The HIP found in Proferrin is absorbed differently than traditional irons. Unlike other irons, Proferrin does not compete with other nutrients.3,4

Fewer Dosing Restrictions*

HIP does not appear to be affected by calcium, coffee, or other foods, and can be taken with meals.1 It may even replace intravenous irons.5

Fewer Side Effects*

Traditional iron supplements are made with ionic irons, which can cause side effects such as constipation, cramping, gas and other forms of digestive system problems.6,7,8 Proferrin causes less gas9 and is unlikely to cause common iron-related digestive system side effects. This is due to Proferrin’s heme iron polypeptide being absorbed differently than that of non-heme iron.

I thought — well, why not?  So here’s the experiment.  I’m going to take 3 a day (which is per the bottle — 1-3 per day) for 90 days and have another draw and see if there is any change.  I won’t take any chemical iron between now and then just to see what this can do.  I’ve heard it’s wonderful, so I’m willing to give it a shot.

It’s quite expensive — comes out around $50/ per month — so if chemical iron is working for you, then stay with it.  But maybe this can eventually keep a needle out of my arm?

Taking bets — what does anyone think?  Hype or not?

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