As a personal trainer and qualified nutritionist, I have a definite interest in what goes in to bodies, what your body needs and what happens when you don’t give your body what it requires. Because I work with women, the majority of my audience is made up of ladies that are pregnant or have been pregnant, so I take a special interest in the mineral iron.
Iron is vital for your body. Both male and female bodies need it for making red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. However, women require much more iron, particularly during certain life stages.
According to the NHS website, the amount of iron you need is:
- 8.7mg a day for men over 18
- 14.8mg a day for women aged 19-50 years
- 8.7mg a day for women over 50
Women that experience particularly heavy bleeding during their period, may suffer from iron deficiency anemia. Levels may also drop during pregnancy and/or soon after birth. Routine blood tests offered during these stages will indicate whether a supplement may be needed.
So why exactly do you need iron and how can you get enough? Iron has several functions within the body. It oxygenates the blood, helps convert food to energy, it helps maintain a normal immune system, it contributes to normal cognitive function. It cannot be made in our bodies, it must be ingested, through diet or supplementation. There are some foods that are better than others at providing iron. Foods such as meat (in particular, liver), dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans and fortified foods are all good sources. However, it can be difficult to take in enough iron through diet alone, especially if you are pregnant, or you choose not to eat meat, or dislike foods that contain strong sources.
Knowing when to supplement is key to your iron levels and bodily function. Symptoms of iron deficiency include tiredness/lacking energy, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and pale skin. If this sounds familiar, a quick blood test from your GP will tell you if you may need to supplement. Typically, the supplements available on the NHS are quite harsh and can cause stomach pains, constipation and black poo. I know from experience, that after having my first baby and being prescribed iron tablets, they are no fun at all. It was my midwife at the time that suggested using Spatone as a natural alternative. That was back in 2010 and I’ve not looked back since.
If you are currently, or have been pregnant, the name Spatone will likely ring a bell – many Mums swear by it. It is a natural (rather than processed) source of iron, coming from Trefriw Wells in Snowdonia National Park. It is in fact, an iron-rich water, which is super gentle on your stomach and easily absorbed by your body – so none of the horrible side-effects that come from taking the tablets.
I also used Spatone during my second pregnancy, as my iron levels were very low, causing me to have debilitating dizzy spells, shortness of breath and heavy-feeling limbs. The 10 minute school run (more of a super slow walk) became a bit of a gamble as to whether I’d make it there and back without collapsing. I must add though, that I was amazed at how many strangers stopped to see if I was ok! Although my iron levels weren’t in the official “anemic” range, they were borderline anemic and certainly low enough for my body to react quite badly. I checked with my GP, who suggested that Spatone would help and, within a week, I was back to normal – no more crouching at the side of the road every 20 metres, waiting for my vision and balance to return!
I continue now, at over 2 years post natal, to use Spatone. Whilst I am careful to eat a balanced diet, I don’t eat much meat at all, and my iron levels remain low when I don’t supplement – this can leave me feeling very tired, especially during my period. However, these little sachets are brilliant, they are small, only contain natural flavor, they have no alcohol, are gluten free, contain no preservatives, are suitable for vegans and vegetarians and importantly, are sugar free. They are super easy to use, as each sachet has a little tear strip at the top.
Spatone comes in original flavour – which is best mixed in to orange juice, partly for taste (to disguise the metallic tang – think about licking a 2p coin), but also so that the vitamin C in the juice can help your body to absorb the iron. It also comes in an apple flavour, with added vitamin C, which is actually delicious and can be drunk straight from the sachet as it tastes like apple juice, but I like to mix it with a little water to dilute the flavour. I drink this first thing every morning, before food, as suggested on the pack.
A box of 28 costs between £8 and £12, depending on where you buy them. I’ve found the cheapest place to be amazon. This box will last most people one month, at one a day, though the directions indicate that pregnant women should take 2 each day.
As with all supplements, please check with your GP/midwife/registered dietician before taking them and make sure that you are not taking Spatone alongside another iron supplement or multivitamin that contains iron.
Take care of your bodies, ladies. You only get the one and it will last longer if you are kind to it and fuel it properly.
Spatone sent me a box of 28 sachets in return for a honest review. All experiences and opinions are true and my own.