Iron Deficient Anemic. That’s Me Again. #NYCMarathon #13weekstogo (Recipe: Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad)

So, I had a doctor’s appointment early last week.  Because it was my first visit, I had to go back through my whole health history which included when I was severely iron deficient anemic in 2008–right before I started grad school.

She asked if I had been iron deficient since then, and I told her that my iron level is usually close on test they give you when you donate blood, but that I hadn’t had official tests run probably since 2010.  She asked if we could run labs that day.  Sure.  Why not.

On Friday I got my test results back.  Extremely iron deficient anemic.  I needed to start taking iron supplements immediately and come back in for more labs in another month or two.  Awesome.

I will say that I have been feeling extremely tired since the move, but I have attributed that to my crazy schedule and my inability to get a quality night’s sleep (I literally toss and turn for about 2 hours a night!).

According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia — a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.  As the name implies, iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient iron. Without enough iron, your body can’t produce enough of a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen (hemoglobin). As a result, iron deficiency anemia may leave you tired and short of breath.”

It also may explain why running has been difficult for me lately.  I know I’m still getting used to the heat, humidity and hills, but part of it could be due to this as well.  Initially, iron deficiency anemia can be so mild that it goes unnoticed. But as the body becomes more deficient in iron and anemia worsens, the signs and symptoms intensify.  Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling grumpy
  • Feeling weak or tired more often than usual, or with exercise
  • Headaches
  • Problems concentrating or thinking
  • Frequent infections
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
  • An uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs (restless legs syndrome)

The last time I was anemic but before I had been diagnosed, I had been in line for a roller coaster at King’s Dominion when my boyfriend at the time looked at me and kind of freaked out because my lips were blue and I was as white as a ghost.  My mom literally called that afternoon with the results and we stopped by the drug store on the way home to pick up an iron supplement.  At least I haven’t gotten blue lips this time!

What causes iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that gives blood its red color and enables the red blood cells to carry oxygenated blood throughout your body. If you aren’t consuming enough iron, or if you’re losing too much iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, and iron deficiency anemia will eventually develop.

The common causes include blood loss (not me), pregnancy (not me), a lack of iron in your diet (a high probability here because I don’t eat red meat which has super high levels of iron), and an inability to absorb iron (likely not me).

Last time I was anemic, my father was hoping my doctor would ask me to eat red meat (he can’t believe that I don’t like the taste of it!), but instead she just asked me to fortify my diet with other iron-rich foods:

  • Chicken and turkey
  • Dried lentils, peas, and beans
  • Fish
  • Meats (liver is the highest source)
  • Peanut butter (we know I won’t eat this!)
  • Soybeans
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Raisins, prunes, and apricots
  • Spinach, kale, and other greens

But I’m on iron supplements now!  So hopefully I’ll get those iron levels up and maybe I’ll see an improvement in my running!  Time will tell!

13 weeks until NYC!  And the training continues even through this!

Quote of the Day:

“Running in the rain:  Exercise, therapy and a shower all at the same time.”

This pasta salad was pretty good.  It deserves a second try and some other taste testers before deciding whether it’s a keeper or not!

Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad

Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad


  • 1 pound dry pasta
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed torn fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic glaze


– Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking.

– Toss the pasta with the strawberries, mozzarella and basil. Pour half of the pasta into a serving bowl, and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Then pour the remaining half of the pasta on top, and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with extra basil if desired. Also, if the pasta seems to dry, you can toss it with a tablespoon of olive oil.

*To make balsamic glaze homemade, whisk together 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half. Give it a taste. If you think it needs sweetening, stir in a few teaspoons of sugar or honey.

Courtesy of Gimme Some Oven

This entry was posted in Nutrition, Overall Health and News, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Iron Deficient Anemic. That’s Me Again. #NYCMarathon #13weekstogo (Recipe: Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad)

  1. shaw says:

    I’m wondering if I should get tested too, because once your levels are back to normal, you’re gonna kick my butt running! Ha!

  2. Pingback: Last Saturday’s Long Run #NYCMarathon #12weekstogo (Recipe: Pasta with Basil, Tomatoes and Avocado Sauce) | Oven Lovin' Runnin'

  3. Pingback: I Hired a Personal Trainer. (Recipe: Quick Coq au Vin) | Oven Lovin' Runnin'

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