Do I have to eat meat? Iron problem.
September 23, 2007 6:18 AM Subscribe
I'm a pseudo vegetarian (I started eating fish about a year ago) of 17+ years and just discovered the root of my recently diagnosed Restless Leg Syndrome. My iron stores are very low. What's next?
posted by [insert clever name here] to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
After 3 years of searching for the cause to my excessive tiredness, there seems like their might be light at the end of the tunnel. It seems that my extremely low iron stores (serum ferritin level of 13[micro]g/L) is causing RLS, which is causing me to not sleep worth a damn. Anything under 50[micro]g/L is considered an indicator of RLS, and the lower you go, the worse it is likely to be. (though it doesn't always work the other way. Someone with low iron stores doesn't necessarily have RLS)
What concerns me is that I did this to myself. I've been a vegetarian since I was 13 years old, and while I've always watched the iron I'm eating, I'm now discovering that the type of iron consumed is very important, and it sounds like the iron in meat is more bio-available. I just found a study that showed while vegetarians consume about the same (sometimes more) iron than omnivores, they have significantly lower serum ferritin levels on average.
I started eating fish about a year ago because I started to wonder if diet did indeed play a part in whey I was always so tired. I figured fish was the lesser of all evils if I had to consume meat. I didn't know about the RLS or low iron then so I was just really taking a shot in the dark. My sleep doctor just told me that that's really not going to do much, that its the chicken and red meat where I would get the most iron benefit.
So I have to see my GP again, to rule out any other factors that could be causing low iron stores. However, just based on what little research I've done and what my sleep doc said, I'm pretty sure they're going to say diet.
So the question is, can I still abstain from meats other than fish to get through this? Should I? I'm a vegetarian on moral grounds, so I'd really like to stay away from meat.
If it does come down to eating meat, any ideas about "free range" and organic meat as a more ethical choice? Can I trust something if it says free range? And to make matters worse, I can't cook worth a damn, and never really had to cook meat for human consumption before.