Ensuring adequate iron status in vegetarians and vegans

Drawing bloodAbstract

Many people, including some physicians, are concerned about iron deficiency anemia in patients consuming a plant-based diet. However, studies show that the risk of anemia in vegetarian and vegan patients is no greater than in omnivorous patients.

Plant foods contain only non-heme iron, whereas meat contains both the heme and non-heme iron. There used to be a concern that non-heme iron would be poorly absorbed resulting in iron deficiency anemia. However, non-heme is well absorbed in most vegetarian patients and vegan because other plant foods, containing substances such as vitamin C and citric acid, can greatly enhance its absorption. Furthermore, non-heme iron absorption increases whenever iron stores are low.

Adequate iron levels can easily be maintained in the vegan patient with a little planning. Consuming foods high in iron along with foods that enhance non-heme iron absorption, will prevent iron deficiency anemia in vegan and vegetarian patients. Because both groups of foods are widely available, this should not be difficult to accomplish.

Patients that are already anemic can be treated by increasing their consumption of iron rich and iron enhancing foods. Supplements are sometimes required. In these cases, iron supplements can be prescribed in the same manner as with omnivorous patients. Continue reading

Published in Endocrine Practice

This is a letter we just had to write. We sent a fully documented Letter to Editor of Endocrine Practice Journal, concerning a published algorithm for the treatment of Type II Diabetes. We were delighted that our letter was published – see Published Letter to Endocrine Practice – in their June 2017 issue, along with a Response from authors of the algorithm.

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Response from PNWU College of Osteopathic Medicine

PNWU College of Osteopathic MedicineWe also wrote to the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, based in Yakima, WA, and received the response below from Kathaleen Briggs Early, Associate Professor of Nutrition and Biochemistry.  We are currently drafting a response to this letter, in collaboration with Dr Lynn Fioretti, DO.

College of Osteopathic medicine response 6.19.15

Letter received from Bastyr

Bastyr logoIn response to our letter to Bastyr university, we received the letter below back from Jane Guiltinan, Dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr.  We are now exploring the possibility of giving  a presentation and an elective course on Vegetarian Nutritional Medicine to naturopathic students at Bastyr university.

Bastyr response 6.12.15

Meeting at the UW Medical School

Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose meet with the Dean of Curriculum at the UW Medical School.

Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose meet with the Dean of Curriculum at the UW Medical School.

We are pleased to report that in response to our letter to the UW Medical School, we were invited to meet with their Dean of Curriculum, Dr Michael Ryan.  He was positively disposed towards our recommendations, and is looking into ways to incorporate various aspects of vegetarian nutritional medicine into their new curriculum.  We hope to have another meeting with him in the near future.

Promoting the Campaign at Bastyr University

Bastyr Herb Faire booth 2015Word is getting out there about our new Prescribe Vegetarian Campaign. This week we focused on promoting the campaign to Bastyr University’s College of Naturopathic Medicine. Here you can see us talking to people about it at their Herb and Food Fair. We were happy to see so much interest not only from Naturopathic physicians but also from traditional MDs. On display was the letter we sent to the president of Bastyr asking the University to alter its curriculum to include specific courses in vegetarian nutritional medicine. See the letter in full below. Continue reading

Open letter to University of Washington Medical School

Veg of WA logo - dark green from 08 poster
To: Michael J. Ryan, M.D.

Associate Dean for Curriculum – University of Washington Medical School

Cc: Brian Seppi, MD, President, Washington State Medical Association

Kathy Lofy, MD, Interim State Health Officer, Washington State Department of Health

February 24, 2015

Dear Dr. Ryan,

We are writing to you in your capacity as Associate Dean of the UW Medicine curriculum. We have heard that you have been conducting a review of the medical curriculum.  We are writing to ask you to include the science of vegetarian nutritional medicine in the didactic portion of medical training, and its practice as a therapeutic in the clinical portion of medical school education.

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