Instant energy boost, please!
February 25, 2011 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I need an instant boost of energy to get through this work day.(Female, low energy related to iron-deficiency). Please help.

Several fibroids have left me with long, heavy cycles and once it's over, I am completely, totally drained ... so much so that I woke up last night with my heart racing and feeling really weak. I am scheduled to have a uterine artery embolization in the next few weeks that I hope will help with the problem.

In the meantime, I am at the office dizzy, weak and lightheaded (yet somehow managed to drive here today (yikes). Is there anything at all I can eat/take/roll in to get through this day?

Additional info: 40, moderately active (except for the two weeks out of the month when I feel like death sucking a lemon.)
posted by notjustfoxybrown to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Counter proposal: go home and get some rest.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:58 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

A banana is a pretty good starting point.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:02 AM on February 25, 2011

It won't be helpful right now, but my GF's GP and midwife both recommended Floradix for postpartum anemia and it made a difference.

Short term, the NIH lists the following as good sources of iron:

* Spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables
* Peanuts, peanut butter, and almonds
* Eggs
* Peas; lentils; and white, red, and baked beans
* Dried fruits, such as raisins, apricots, and peaches
* Prune juice
posted by ryanshepard at 9:10 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Coconut water (not milk). It's like getting a glucose IV.
posted by cmoj at 9:12 AM on February 25, 2011

Grape nuts, if you can find them. Seriously, I'm not sure why but when I'm feeling exhausted, especially at the end of my period, they help!
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:12 AM on February 25, 2011

Thank you, Ryanshepard. I can get a few of the things on the list from the drug store nearby. Please keep them coming. I have a feeling it's going to be a long weekend.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 9:14 AM on February 25, 2011

are you veggie/vegan?
posted by anya32 at 9:18 AM on February 25, 2011

Should have included this bit from the NIH link as well:

Your doctor may advise you to eat more foods that are rich in iron. The best source of iron is red meat, especially beef and liver. Chicken, turkey, pork, fish, and shellfish also are good sources of iron.

The body tends to absorb the iron from meat better than iron in other foods. However, other foods also can help you raise your iron levels.

posted by ryanshepard at 9:20 AM on February 25, 2011

I feel you; I've been there and it's awful. I found that on a day to day level, staying very well hydrated and nourished helped a bit. I went through a LOT of gatorade. Stay away from caffeine because it will only exacerbate the lightheadedness. Make yourself eat a filling lunch, even if you don't feel like it. Lie down for a few minutes whenever possible.

The bad thing about anemia that it takes a long time to replenish your iron stores. I'm sure you're taking your iron supplements, and the surgery should help in the long run, but the only real quick boost you can get is with a blood transfusion. It helped me immensely, but your iron levels have to be really low for a doc to order it. Based on how you're feeling, it might be worth asking.

Good luck, and try to take it easy.
posted by c lion at 9:20 AM on February 25, 2011

that's where i was going, ryanshepard. i have the same issue - i was vegan for 10 years - but my endocrinologist recommended i eat beef (a small amount) once a week. it has changed my life. not sure if that is a dietary possibility for you. but plant and animal iron are absorbed very differently by the body.
posted by anya32 at 9:21 AM on February 25, 2011

and i'm not getting into an anti-vegan stance here - my body simply couldn't handle it with my very heavy cycles - lots of healthy vegans are out there.
posted by anya32 at 9:22 AM on February 25, 2011

To clarify one point - it's of course very important that you are eating lots of iron rich foods and taking supplements, but you question asks what you can do in the short term to boost your energy. Eating the biggest steak in the world won't make you feel better in the short term because of how our bodies absorb iron. It takes weeks or months to rebuild your stores. So while that's a great long term strategy, the iron content of what you eat for lunch isn't going to make much difference in how you feel for the rest of the day.
posted by c lion at 9:29 AM on February 25, 2011

The symptoms you are describing: racing heart (palpitations), dizzy, lightheaded, and fatigue are all the classic signs of symptomatic anemia. Basically it sounds like you've been bleeding so much from your fibroids that your blood counts are down -- which means you can't deliver oxygen to your body as well you should. Your body is always making more blood, but you can't catch up with this loss.

Not to freak you out, but symptomatic anemia is no joke - you can actually get heart failure from chronic symptomatic anemia. Your palpitations especially are worrisome to me, and I SERIOUSLY think that warrants a call to your MD.

In the mean time, try your best to rest and not exert yourself very much. The problem here is oxygen delivery, so raising your metabolism through exercise or otherwise will cause a higher demand which in turn causes your heart to pump the blood faster and harder. The problem is your heart is likely already working overtime to compensate for your thinned blood, so there is less buffer.

The foods ryanshepard mentioned are all high in iron and protein, which will help your body build more red blood cells over time and should definitely be included in your diet given your bleeding history. But, don't expect them to cause huge relief in the short term on you energy level if symptomatic anemia is truly your problem.
posted by i less than three nsima at 9:33 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm also anemic, but not to the degree that you are. Taking a Bifera supplement chased with an Emergen-C packet dissolved in water every day gives me a boost and makes me feel better in the long run. (Vitamin C helps with iron absorption, and Emergen-C contains B vitamins that supposedly give you a boost of energy.) Bifera is expensive but totally worth it.

High protein snacks like almonds or string cheese also help.

Feel better soon. And wash your hands a lot. Anemia leaves you susceptible to picking up every bug that comes down the Pike.
posted by corey flood at 9:35 AM on February 25, 2011

Ugh, don't know what happened with the link there, sorry.
posted by schroedinger at 9:37 AM on February 25, 2011

Thank you all so much for your answers. I put a call into my GP, because I was concerned about the racing heart as well. I also ran to the store and bought some almonds, Grape Nuts (and dark chocolate ... because if you have to be at work feeling this way, chocolate should be involved. Just a little piece.) I plan to take it easy and will probably leave early today.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 9:47 AM on February 25, 2011

Oh ... and no, I'm not a vegan but I don't eat red meat ... which might have to change.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 9:48 AM on February 25, 2011

Pumpkin seeds are super high in iron and easy to tote around.
posted by Surinam Toad at 9:32 PM on February 25, 2011

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