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How My Genes Helped Me Discover An Iron Deficiency

Written by Tessa Sawyers, BS (Communications and New Media) | Last updated:

My name is Tessa! I was a member of the SelfDecode marketing team in 2019.

I really enjoyed my time with the company and learned so much from both Joe and our community members like you!

When Eliana told me about her vitamin deficiency issues that you heard about in the last email, I just knew I had to share my own journey with exploring a recent mineral deficiency!

To give you a little background info, I’m a total “gym bro” as far as girls go. I love powerlifting – even won a few medals so far!

I started noticing my symptoms after months of preparing for my last powerlifting meet.


I don’t mean just sore… more like bone-tired. I could go to bed at 9pm, sleep for 10 hours, and still wake up tired. Plus, my head had this dull ache for weeks and I was in a horrible mood, because I was tired… or so I thought.

One morning, I got up to go to the gym and my entire body felt as if I had been rubbed down in icy-hot or bengay. I could feel my head swimming and my limbs were tingling. I was freaking out and my stubborn-self finally decided that I needed help.

Now, I’m a strong believer in horoscopes (Pisces :p ), but not so much in my doctor’s ability to diagnose something quickly, because… she just told me that I NEEDED MORE SLEEP. She also said I should get a blood test to check a few things.

I couldn’t get a lab appointment for a few days, so I decided to take things into my own hands and check my genes on SelfDecode.

I was thinking that the issue might have something to do with my diet, because I knew I wasn’t eating very well to support my gym habits, so I downloaded the Vitamins and Minerals DNA Wellness Reports.

I was scrolling through my Minerals Report when I saw this huge red chunk of SNPS.

So, I did some searching and found an article on SelfHacked about iron deficiency – stating that the symptoms were fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and headaches.

Not only did my genes say that I was at increased risk for iron deficiency, but I also had several epigenetic influences including – IUD use, intensive exercise, poor diet and not to mention the fact that I’m a female – and we’re at higher risk already.

Did you know that iron deficiency can also affect your physical performance by lowering your muscle myoglobin and reducing your oxygen supply to your muscles? No wonder I only hit 285 lbs on my squat that day.

I decided I was going to the store to get an iron supplement pronto.

I didn’t want to waste the trip on just one thing, so I kept exploring. I opened my Mood DNA Wellness Report to see if I could address my irritability.

You see, iron deficiency can also cause a low-level of dopamine in the brain and it turns out that I’m also genetically prone to co-occurring depression and anxiety. My Mood DNA Wellness Report suggested that I try bioavailable curcumin and 5-HTP to boost my brain’s performance in neurogenesis, stimulation of serotonin receptors, and increasing my levels of dopamine.

After 2-3 weeks of taking an iron supplement, adding vitamin C supplements to increase iron absorption, taking 5-HTP, and increasing my intake of iron-rich foods, I was performing better than I had ever been! (Note: I skipped curcumin because I read it can chelate iron).

My fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms were gone. Plus, my mood and muscle recovery significantly improved!

Now, I’m on track to break a 300lb squat in 2020!

If I were you, I’d definitely explore SelfDecode to see if you have any areas of your health that you can improve. You might just find something worth fixing! I know I’ll be using SelfDecode for years to come!

About the Author

Tessa Sawyers

BS (Communications and New Media)
Before joining SelfHacked, Tessa was a writer for a well-known general health website and a digital marketer.
She has experience in copywriting, digital marketing and social media strategy. Her passion lies in powerlifting, fitness and overall wellness in the body and mind.


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