T Nation

Please Advise, Anemic Figure Athlete

I have a female client of mine whom I’ve been training with exclusively for a little over a year now and for the past 6 months her results and progress have just completely come to a hault.

We reviewed and exhausted all possible strategies and nothing worked. So she has blood work done on all 3 thyroid panels plus other things checked by a family friend doctor who is a bodybuilder himself (and knew what to look for) and comes back with her having Hasheomoto’s and is also Anemic. Besides a deficiency in iron and B12, what else if anything can we do to help?

Even after 6 months of battling this (and not knowing it) her PR’s went up in squat/bench/dead lift and are currently 265/175/285, respectively. She’s the strongest female in our gym and we’re both very frustrated and depressed at this new bad news. Our struggles amazingly have not been with her strength, but extreme fatigue outside the gym and body composition changes (will not respond to normal dieting practices at all).

Currently she’s 5’5, 150lbs at 15%. Sometimes after one week those numbers can fluctuate as much as 10lbs and 2% with no major changes in diet, cardio or training.

Advice from anyone in the know? Dr. Berardi just had a great article on this topic and it was ironic we found out the same day I received the email:

Blood Tests, Anemia, and Sub-Clinical Anemia
Click here to find out more:
precisionnutrition.com/sub-clinical-anemia

I was recently diagnosed with anemia.

My doctor suggested strong coffee in the morning and in the afternoon (one cup, I drink more), lots of kale and spinach, prescribed mega dose Iron to take daily, vitamin D, B12 complex, and I also take the dessicated liver tabs. After 3-months my iron is finally up to 30 from 20 and I am feeling better. The heart palpitations and mental fugue are clearning up.

I hope your client gets her iron up and starts feeling better.

I also have Hashimoto’s and was anemic, although the anemia wasn’t bad enough to really mess with me. I take 1/2 grain of Armour thyroid and prenatal vitamins, and my anemia cleared up.

well it certainly hasn’t affected her lifts!

Knowing this info, maybe you can take it to a naturopathic doctor to prescribe some other alternatives?

Thank you to the three of you for posting a reply. All these things we are going to try out. I copied the link and sent it to her to show her there are other women lifters with her same issue.

She is grateful for your advice and opinions and we both hope to get this cleared up in a timely fashion. I would love to have her get/create an account, but baby steps…

I just got her lifting the big 3 (and she loves it). I bought a power cage so we can practice them when our gym is full of squat rack curlers. Today a guy was benching in the cage without the pins and I just shook my head in disgust. Too funny…

Thank you ladies! Sincerely,
Viets

I also have anemia and I am a nurse. If her iron levels were soooo low, it will take her body some time to rebuild those levels (many months) where they are within a therapeutic range and she can benefit from it. Is she on iron pills now? does she take B12 injections monthly?

she saw a wellness doctor that has her on iron and b12 and an array of some other medicines. they’re also working on getting her cortisol down and under control (adrenal glands were shot) thank you for posting

[quote]brownbikerbabe wrote:
I also have anemia and I am a nurse. If her iron levels were soooo low, it will take her body some time to rebuild those levels (many months) where they are within a therapeutic range and she can benefit from it. Is she on iron pills now? does she take B12 injections monthly? [/quote]

Do you get bruises after you lift heavy if you’re anemic?
I hate doctors…ok not really I’m just afraid of what they will tell me. I’m pretty sure I have an iron deficiency and might be anemic. And because I’m black I’m afraid that they will tell my I have Sickle-cell anemia. Which terrifies me.

I have some of the similar problems as his client above, except I cant lift that much, but I have been in a plateau for long time and I couldn’t figure out why.

Could being anemic really have something to do with why I cant lose anymore weight?
And would taking Iron pills and B-12 help solve this?

Thank you for the information.

I had anemia and felt tired all day long back some months ago. What helped me is a cut-back on coffee (I believe, caffeine can inhibit iron uptake) and some b12 vitamin injections to my ass.

[quote]Vejne wrote:
I had anemia and felt tired all day long back some months ago. What helped me is a cut-back on coffee (I believe, caffeine can inhibit iron uptake) and some b12 vitamin injections to my ass. [/quote]

Hmm…I never drink coffee, so that rules that out for me as an option. Now I’ve heard a lot about the B-12 injections, but what makes that different from the pills?

[quote]chocolatew wrote:
Vejne wrote:
I had anemia and felt tired all day long back some months ago. What helped me is a cut-back on coffee (I believe, caffeine can inhibit iron uptake) and some b12 vitamin injections to my ass.

Hmm…I never drink coffee, so that rules that out for me as an option. Now I’ve heard a lot about the B-12 injections, but what makes that different from the pills?
[/quote]

when you take B12 orally you aren’t getting the full dosage because of the stomach acids.

If you do take the B12 orally you can get the sublingual tabs and those are a bit better and there is even a transdermal patch.

But if you are concerned, I really hope you see a doctor. You mentioned sickle cell, and I hope you are just being worried, but if you have health insurance I hope you make use of it.

[quote]OctoberGirl wrote:
chocolatew wrote:
Vejne wrote:
I had anemia and felt tired all day long back some months ago. What helped me is a cut-back on coffee (I believe, caffeine can inhibit iron uptake) and some b12 vitamin injections to my ass.

Hmm…I never drink coffee, so that rules that out for me as an option. Now I’ve heard a lot about the B-12 injections, but what makes that different from the pills?

when you take B12 orally you aren’t getting the full dosage because of the stomach acids.

If you do take the B12 orally you can get the sublingual tabs and those are a bit better and there is even a transdermal patch.

But if you are concerned, I really hope you see a doctor. You mentioned sickle cell, and I hope you are just being worried, but if you have health insurance I hope you make use of it.
[/quote]

You’re sweet, I always over worry myself. I mentioned sickle-cell only because I know its more common in people of african american decent. So I should research some of they symptoms and definetly get checked out
Thank you for explaining that to me:)

I will tell you right now that the first thing anyone wants to do to figure out what is wrong with them is to stop inducing artificial sweeteners if they are. Most will give between two to sixteen side effects ranging from headaches and dizziness to blurred vision and seizures. These sweeteners are no joke and not natural.

If you are not convinced, go to “Say NO to Aspartame and other dangerous 'foods”
a health educational group on Facebook.com
and a legislative progress report on banning them state by state- if FDA won’t help on a national level.

[quote]OctoberGirl wrote:
chocolatew wrote:
Vejne wrote:
I had anemia and felt tired all day long back some months ago. What helped me is a cut-back on coffee (I believe, caffeine can inhibit iron uptake) and some b12 vitamin injections to my ass.

Hmm…I never drink coffee, so that rules that out for me as an option. Now I’ve heard a lot about the B-12 injections, but what makes that different from the pills?

when you take B12 orally you aren’t getting the full dosage because of the stomach acids.

If you do take the B12 orally you can get the sublingual tabs and those are a bit better and there is even a transdermal patch.

But if you are concerned, I really hope you see a doctor. You mentioned sickle cell, and I hope you are just being worried, but if you have health insurance I hope you make use of it.

[/quote]
you actually need stomach acid for b-12 absorption
from http://peoplespharmacy.com/ great site you should check out
Are Vitamin B12 As Good As Injections?
Newspaper Columns, Pharmacy Q&A April 1, 2002
Q. About six years ago my doctor informed me that I had low vitamin B12 levels and started giving me monthly injections. Now he says that B12 pills are just as good as the shots. Is this really true or is he just trying to cut back on my monthly office visits? What causes low vitamin B12 and what would happen if I remain untreated?

A. Your physician has been keeping up with the medical literature. Doctors once believed that the only way to replenish vitamin B12 was with injections. But research has shown that high-dose oral B12 tablets are also effective. Such prescription-strength supplementation should be supervised by a physician. Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common than most people realize. Strict vegetarians are especially vulnerable, since this nutrient is only available from animal sources. Older people also seem susceptible (10 to 20 percent can develop B12 deficiency). And people who take powerful acid-suppressing drugs (Aciphex, Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid) for long periods of time may also have trouble absorbing this vitamin. Consequences of inadequate B12 may include anemia or nerve damage which may show up as tingling or numbness, depression, insomnia and memory problems.