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Hi all,

So glad to have found this forum. To be honest, I've been stalking it for quite a few months as I've been having trouble with low ferritin levels since the beginning of the year.

I'll try not to bore you all and keep it short. I have a condition known as Interstitial Cystitis. After many years of trying conventional medicine with no success, I decided to switch to natural medicine. My symptoms have become a lot better by following a primarily gluten-free, vegan, acid-alkaline diet. Please don't freak out about the vegan point. I do have the occasional intake of meat but I feel that my symptoms are so much better without it. I was only truly vegan for about 6 weeks and then started to have small amounts of meat again.

Anyway, long story short, around February this year (I started this new way of eating in November last year), I started to feel very lethargic. I was falling asleep all the time. I started becoming short of breath. I began having heart palpitations and heaviness on my chest; 'like an elephant was sitting on me'. I was so tired. I then remembered that I had to take into account my B12 levels and my iron when I went vegan but I was surprised that I was already seeing symptoms so quickly after changing my diet. It was bizarre! It had only been like, 3 months by this point. Anyway, I had blood drawn and the following results came back:

Serum Iron 17 umol/L (10-33)
[B][COLOR="Red"]Transferrin IBC 93 umol/L (45-70)[/COLOR][/B]
Transferrin Saturation 18% (16-50)
[B][COLOR="Red"]Serum Ferritin Assay 9 ug/L (15-290)[/COLOR][/B]

[U]Comment:[/U] Low serum ferritin level indicative of mild iron deficiency.

Vitamin B12 267 pmol/L (162-811)

After I got these results, I was told to take the conventional OTC iron supplement that is paired with Vitamin C. It is called Ferrograd C. Unfortunately for me, my bladder (with the Interstitial Cystitis) doesn't tolerate Vitamin C supplements well and the dosage was so high that it affected me immediately. My symptoms started to flood back which put my progress with the eating changes all on the back-burner. So, I went to my natural health food store and found an iron supplement that was gentler on the stomach and was a milder dosage of both iron and Vitamin C. Luckily, I was able to tolerate this one. The down-side was that it only contains 20mg of iron (as ferrous gluconate) and 40mg of Vitamin C. I tried taking a double-dose, to get more into me, but alas, that tipped me over the limit of how much Vitamin C my body can handle. (For the record, my low-ish B12 level was ignored at this point).

Since I didn't seem to be picking up, I went back to the natural health food store and bought some liquid iron. It tasted vile but I could deal with that. Unfortunately, it flared my bladder straight away.

I started to get frustrated so just kept continuing with the low-dose natural supplement and upping my intake of the following: red meat, spinach, eggs, chicken and also red capsicums (for Vitamin C). It still wasn't enough and I was feeling shocking. I went back to my GP to see if anything had changed and the results were the following:

Serum Iron 25 umol/L (10-33)
[B][COLOR="Red"]Transferrin IBC 93 umol/L (45-70)[/COLOR][/B]
Transferrin Saturation 27% (16-50)
[B]Serum Ferritin Assay 22 ug/L (15-290)[/B]
[COLOR="Red"]Serum Transferrin 4.1 (for checking only)[/B]

[B]Vitamin B12 238 pmol/L (162-811)[/B]
[U]Comment:[/U] Borderline low-normal vitamin B12 result.

Impressed that my iron had gone up, I was a little reassured. But, my symptoms remained. They would fluctuate and I'd feel good for a few days then have a bad week. It started to get very frustrating. The doctor suggested I start taking a Vitamin B12 supplement as my level had dropped into low-normal since my last test. I did so; I've been taking it every day since. However, still feeling horrible, I ended up not wanting to wait until July for another retest (that would be 8 weeks later) and went in last week instead (6 weeks since my last test). The results were the following:

Serum Iron 25 umol/L (10-33)
[B][COLOR="Red"]Transferrin IBC 84 umol/L (45-70)[/COLOR][/B]
Transferrin Saturation 30% (16-50)
[B]Serum Ferritin Assay 19 ug/L (15-290)[/B]

[B][COLOR="Red"]Serum Transferrin 3.7 (for checking only)[/COLOR][/B]

(Haven't got my B12 results back yet from this one).

I see that my ferritin has gone down again but other figures are up. I'm totally confused and don't know how to feel well again. This whole iron realm is so new to me and I'm really frustrated that I can't work it out. I've done so well over the last 5 years getting my bladder better and I'm struggling to find a way to get my iron up without affecting my bladder. Ideally, I don't want to have to eat red meat as it makes my bladder hurt all over again. I also have been trying to get a big intake of Vitamin C in my food, through broccoli and beetroot juices too. At this stage, my bladder still can't tolerate oranges or mandarins; I'm working on it. I've managed to increase the amount of foods I can eat since I started this whole new way of eating in November last year. I'm proud of myself for what I've achieved as living with this condition isn't easy. There are many foods that the Interstitial Cystitis body can't handle but I've been able to increase my capacity through hard work.

Currently, the doctor is now running test for Coeliac and IgA antibodies; he thinks there might be an absorption problem going on. He has suggested iron transfusions as the next measure.

The only other supplement I haven't tried is the Ferrograd without Vitamin C. It's the first supplement I tried, minus the heavy dose of C. I'm concerned about taking this for two reasons; (1) I feel that the dosage of iron will still be too strong for my bladder to handle and (2) what's the point of taking an iron supplement without Vitamin C to help absorb it?

Iíll also note that the only medication I am on is Microgynon 50; it has supressed my cycle all-together, as a measure to control unknown gynaelogical issues. Luckily, I donít have to worry about that extra week a month that could make me worse! Oh, and my hair is in a really bad state. It's thinning very fast and falling out in clumps.

If you've made it to the end of this American novel, I commend you. I apologise for writing such a boring tale but I am truly desperate for some feedback right now. I am not a lazy person who wants this to overcome me; in fact, I've been doing everything I can think of to reverse. Please help!

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