Our thyroid and iron minerals have a connection most of us are not aware of. The body needs both vitamins and minerals every day in order to function properly. These can come in various forms — whether it be in food or supplements. Although we know we need these things, many people are still deficient. To this end, one of the most common mineral deficiency is iron deficiency, also known as anemia. Many people with anemia need to take an iron pill or multivitamin to help alleviate the symptoms, but did you know your thyroid can also be the root of this deficiency? As if this weren’t bad enough, the problem can go both ways. Low iron levels can also lead to thyroid problems.
Thyroid and Iron: How Anemia Can Affect Our Thyroid
The Mineral Iron
Before you can understand how your thyroid and iron relate to one another, you have to understand what iron is on its own. To put it simply, iron is an essential mineral that allows your body to function properly. Minerals are naturally occurring inorganic, solid structures. They have definite chemical compositions and an ordered internal structure. The body needs iron in specific because it is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. In addition, iron also assists in digestion, because many enzymes contain iron, and enzymes are necessary to digest food. The amount needed varies with age and can range anywhere from 7-27mg per day.
Thyroid Affects Iron Levels
The main way the thyroid can negatively affect the body’s iron levels is through digestion. When the body is in a hypothyroid state, it can cause the level of stomach acid to decrease. This condition is also known as hypochlorhydria. Stomach acid is necessary to absorb the nutrients in your food. Without the stomach acid or with stomach acid at too low of levels, the body can’t absorb what it needs. This can result in more than just anemia. The malabsorption can also lead to various vitamin deficiencies.
Iron Levels Affect Thyroid
As stated earlier, the problems with your thyroid and iron can go both ways, and a deficiency in one can cause trouble in the other. When your iron levels are low, it slows down the conversion of T4 to T3 (the active thyroid hormone). This is called deiodinase activity. Deiodinase activity requires an enzyme named thyroid peroxidase to bring about the chemical reaction necessary to produce the thyroid hormones. This enzyme relies heavily on iron. Without it, the entire process slows down.
Symptoms of Low Iron
The symptoms of iron deficiency are mild or nearly non-existent in the beginning. However, over time, the low levels begin to show themselves in big ways. Even then they can be hard to recognize if you already have another condition like hypothyroidism, because the symptoms may overlap. The symptoms include the following:
- Heart palpitations
- Brain fog
- And more!
Taking Iron Supplements
Most people take an iron supplement when they find out their levels are low. Others may assume that they can get enough iron through their multivitamin. While these are good methods to start, they may not be effective if taken at the wrong time. If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you are probably taking some form of thyroid medication to treat that problem. However, if you are taking your thyroid medication close to your iron supplement, you may be sabotaging yourself. Thyroid medication can bind to certain types of iron supplements. This makes the thyroid medication less effective. The best course of action is to space these treatments at least a few hours apart.
Checking Iron Levels
It is important to check your iron levels, especially if you are experiencing any of the above-listed symptoms, or if you already have a thyroid condition. Ask your doctor about running a few iron blood tests, which include ferritin (stored iron), serum iron (circulation iron), and percent saturation, in addition to any other tests, your doctor sees fit.
Here are 21 iron-rich plant foods for vegetarians and vegans: https://t.co/vOrBFVWHMG
— DC Functional Health (@Low_Thyroid) May 5, 2017
Want to know more about the connection of our hypothyroidism and iron-based anemia? Watch this video and learn about thyroid conversion, synthesis, adrenal function, and how it plays into anemia!
Our thyroid needs iron, cortisol, selenium, and iodine to obtain an optimal function. Of these, iron is particularly important, as it helps us transport oxygen throughout our body. It also promotes cellular growth. More often than not, women are prone to iron deficiency, especially during child-bearing years. It is of utmost importance to check your iron levels to ensure your thyroid will operate normally. Consult your doctor as soon as you see some symptoms of iron deficiency.
Are you suffering from iron deficiency? Share your thoughts on how you battle this deficiency in the comments below!