Iron

Overview

Iron deficiency impairs thyroid hormones synthesis by reducing activity of iron – dependent thyroid peroxidase. Iron deficiency anemia blunts and iron supplementation improves the efficacy of iodine.

Iron is pervasive, but particularly rich sources of dietary iron include red meat, lentils, beans, poultry, fish, leaf vegetables, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, blackstrap molasses, fortified bread, and fortified breakfast cereals. Iron in low amounts is found in molasses, teff and farina. Iron in meat (heme iron) is more easily absorbed than iron in vegetables.

Iron provided by dietary supplements is often found as iron (II) fumarate, although iron sulfate is cheaper and is absorbed equally well. Elemental iron, or reduced iron, despite being absorbed at only one third to two thirds the efficiency (relative to iron sulfate), is often added to foods such as breakfast cereals or enriched wheat flour. Iron is most available to the body when chelated to amino acids and is also available for use as a common iron supplement. Often the amino acid chosen for this purpose is the cheapest and most common amino acid, glycine, leading to “iron glycinate” supplements. Infants may require iron supplements if they are bottle-fed cow’s milk. Blood donors and pregnant women are at special risk of low iron levels and are often advised to supplement their iron intake.

Cause

  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Celiac
  • Digestive, absorption issues
  • A bleeding ulcer, colon polyp, or colon cancer
  • Regular use of aspirin or other pain medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (for example, ibuprofen and naproxen)
  • Urinary tract bleeding
  • Poor diet
  • Prescription medicines that reduce acid in the stomach
  • Hypothyroidism

Symptoms

Often there are no symptoms of high or low iron.

Low iron

  • Paleness
  • Feeling tired
  • Unusual shortness of breath during exercise
  • Unusual food cravings (known as pica)
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Brittle nails or hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Restless Leg syndrome
  • T3 pooling
  • Continuing hypothyroid symptoms when on a good dose of thyroid hormones

High iron

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Liver disease (cirrhosis, liver cancer)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Heart attack or heart failure
  • Skin color changes (bronze, ashen-gray green)
  • Loss of period
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hair loss
  • Enlarged liver or spleen
  • Impotence
  • Infertility
  • Hypogonadism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Depression
  • Adrenal function problems
  • Early onset neurodegenerative disease
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Elevated iron (serum iron, serum ferritin)

Testing
Blood test for the following:
Make sure that you have stop iron supplements for 5 days before testing and that you fast high iron containing foods for 72 hours.

Serum iron – should be around 110 and 120 in men. Serum iron measures the iron in your blood.
TIBC – should be low in range, but not below range
UIBC – should be same as TIBC
Saturation % – should be around 45%. Saturation % is an indication of your ability to bind iron and transport it to various sites such as the bone marrow or liver.
Ferritin – should be 70-90. Ferritin is referred to as the body’s place for storing iron. Serum ferritin is elevated in conditions of iron overload, liver disease, alcohol abuse, nicotine product abuse (used to stop smoking) and in people who are sick with illnesses, which causes inflammation.
Ferritin is naturally elevated in newborns and infants. Ferritin is low in people who are iron deficient.

Sometimes CBC (complete blood count) testing is required to rule out iron disorders.

Treatment
Low iron
How much iron you need will depend on the results of your test.
Most of us can get sufficient amounts of iron from daily diets that include a moderate amount of meat, because meat contains heme, which is easily absorbed by the body. However, some people need supplemental iron.

Iron pills should be taken 2 hours before or after other medications. Iron can inhibit the effectiveness of thyroid medications, antibiotics and some antidepressant drugs. Foods and substances that can interfere with the absorption of iron include calcium, tannins, which are found in coffee, tea, grapes, red wine, purple or red rice, and bran fiber or chocolate. Iron supplementation is best taken two hours after consuming these substances.

The amount of elemental iron contained in iron pills will vary. A 325-milligram (mg) supplement is probably made of ferrous fumarate or gluconate and actually contains only 100 mgs of elemental iron per pill. Many people have had success taking Blue Bonnet iron which is chelated iron bisglycinate. Iron should be taken with Vitamin C for better absorption and to help with constipation.

Iron shots or IV’s may be necessary with very low iron levels.

High Iron
Donation blood is good for lowering iron levels as long as you do not have Hemochromatosis.

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