Blood Thinners and Iron Deficiency

Being on blood thinners does not directly impact iron levels in the blood.  Unless you’re bleeding – then you have bigger problems.

If you believe that you are iron deficient:

Call your doctor and make an appointment immediately.  It could be an indication of [internal] blood loss, which is a possibility if your INR level is above 3.  But the level is not a strong indication – I’ve had no issue when in the 4s, yet I bled into my lungs while open water swimming when my INR was in the low 2s.  Doctors can perform a physical exam in addition to blood tests (and more blood tests depending on initial results).

Be aware that if bleeding is confirmed to be the source of the iron deficiency, the benefit to being on warfarin/coumadin is the medication can be flushed from your system.  It’s not available to those on other blood thinner medications, and in my experience it’s not something doctors will use unless they have to.  As in, they were fine with me sitting in hospital for days until my INR was under 1.4 (allowable level for surgery).

Dietary Sources for Iron Deficiency Prevention

Anyone can develop iron-deficiency anemia, but us “bleeders” are more likely than most to develop it because some of the best sources of iron also have a lot of vitamin K.  The goto sources are beef (stop making faces) and spinach.

Here’s the top 5 sources of iron for those of us on blood thinners:

  1. Lentils are the first on the list which do no contain vitamin K, and at 37% of your Daily Value (DV)… if you eat 1 cup of them.
  2. Sesame seeds: 29% DV of iron for 0.25 cup
  3. Garbanzo beans (AKA chickpeas): 26% DV of iron for 1 cup
  4. Lima beans: 25% DV of iron for 1 cup
  5. Olives: 25% DV of iron for 1 cup
  6. Navy beans: 24% DV of iron for 1 cup

What?  There was a tie, and I’d eat navy beans before olives or lima beans. 😛

The alternative is iron supplements.

FYI: Vegans (or depending on your vegetarianism) should be aware that there’s also pernicious anemia, the result of a vitamin B12 deficiency.

The Truth About Exercising While Pregnant: It’s Okay to Work Hard

Sometimes it seems the only exercise options for pregnant women are easy swimming, gentle yoga, and walking carefully in a field of pillows. But if you’re not satisfied with those, you’re in luck: many activities are safer in pregnancy than bystanders and even your doctor may realize.

…There’s a tip in here for people who aren’t pregnant, too: if a pregnant woman is doing something you wouldn’t normally imagine a pregnant woman doing…chill out.

…Keeping up fitness, even if you’re slow and sluggish for the moment, helps you return next season: you’re only taking a few weeks or months off, instead of a year or more.

Source: The Truth About Exercising While Pregnant: It’s Okay to Work Hard

Oddly, iron deficiency wasn’t mentioned in the article.  Pregnancy can make you anemic because you’re increasing your blood volume by almost 50% in a short time. Anemia will make you tired and short of breath. Standard blood tests will show if you need iron supplements, but it can take a while to get back to normal levels, and exercising during that time will be difficult to impossible, depending on how anemic you are.  This may be why the fatigue hits so early in pregnancy – there are athletes who didn’t realize they were pregnant until they saw their performance declining.

What to Do If You Think Your Period Is Affecting Your Workout

Are periods a problem for elite sportswomen? Does it affect performance? We talk to women’s marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, physiologist, Professor John Brewer, and gymnastics coach Helen Potter.

Source: Curse or myth – do periods affect performance?

Recent research suggests that your cycle probably doesn’t have an effect on strength or aerobic performance, but endurance may suffer in the second half of your cycle (that is, the two weeks just before your period). The research is mainly on women with natural cycles, so if you’re on the Pill – the science is inconclusive.

Whether you tell a trainer or teammate is, the athletes noted, a double edged sword. It helps to keep the subject from being taboo, so athletes can compare notes and learn from each other. On the other hand, badminton champion Gail Emms remembers a teammate who had her period when she lost a doubles competition. The teammate’s (male) partner, she says, is “still fuming” because he thinks that’s why they lost.  There will always be idiots, so I advocate for talking and sharing.

There’s definitely been a lot more work done on disordered cycles, which are fairly common in elite athletes (depending on the sport). Women don’t have the trouble recovering from their period than having donated blood, because menstrual blood is just the shedding of the uterine lining and doesn’t come directly from the bloodstream.

Is this the new iron deficiency?

If you’re lacking energy, easily annoyed, and generally feel sort of off, look to your diet. While iron deficiencies may get all the ink, it’s not the only mineral that could be missing from your meals. Lack of magnesium — a common, but silent, deficiency — impacts about half of the population, data suggests.

Source: Is this the new iron deficiency?

Sources for magnesium?  Pumpkin seeds have the most, but there’s lots of calories in nuts so spinach is the next best source (which is a concern for us on blood thinners).  Sesame seeds, black beans, sunflower seeds, navy beans are safer for us.  You can read more about magnesium here.

Salt, potassium and magnesium are three major things I try to incorporate more than I used to.  I use a Nuun tablet in my water if I’m to be doing something for longer than an hour.