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The Iron Thyroid

thyroid-iron

As all of you may know, the body needs both vitamins and minerals everyday in order to function properly. These can come in various forms whether it’s in food, supplements, or some other facet. Although we know we need these things, many people are deficient. A common mineral deficiency is iron deficiency, also known as anemia. Many people are diagnosed with anemia and told to take an iron pill or multivitamin to help alleviate the symptoms, but did you know that your thyroid can be the cause of this deficiency? While this seems bad enough, it also works the other way around: low iron levels can lead to thyroid problems.

The Mineral Iron

Iron is an essential mineral that allows your body to function properly. Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic, solid structures with definite chemical compositions and have an ordered internal structure. The body needs iron 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 on age and can range anywhere from 7-27mg per day.

Thyroid Affects Iron Levels

The main way that 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 low levels the body can’t absorb what it needs which can result in more than just anemia (as if that wasn’t bad enough). The malabsorption can also lead to various vitamin deficiencies.

Iron Levels Affect Thyroid

As stated earlier, the problem can go both ways and a deficiency in either 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 the deiodinase activity. The 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 and without it can cause the entire process to slow 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 a big way and they can be hard to recognize if you already have another condition like hypothyroidism because the symptoms could overlap. The symptoms include,

  • Achiness
  • Fatigue/weakness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • And more!

Taking Iron Supplements

Most people take an iron supplement when they find out their levels are low or they figure that they can get enough in their multivitamin. While this is a good thing to start, it may not be effective if it is taken at a specific 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 near your iron supplement, you may not be sabotaging yourself. Thyroid medication can bind to certain types of iron supplements making the thyroid medication less effective so the best course of action would be to space them at least a few hours apart

Checking Iron Levels

It is important to have your iron levels checked, especially if you are experiencing any of the above listed symptoms or if you already have a thyroid condition that could be made worse by the iron levels. Ask your doctor about running a few iron blood tests which include ferritin (stored iron), serum iron (circulation iron), and % Saturation, in addition to any other tests your doctor sees fit.

Do you know of any iron-rich recipes? Share them with us in the comments below!

About the Author

Naomi Parker

Patient Advocate

Naomi Parker is a patient advocate that is enthralled by the medical field. Hypothyroidism became a topic of interest over the last few years while she worked amongst alternative medicine doctors as a front office assistant. She believes that information is key and strives to become better informed so as to help others achieve success and wellness.

Naomi has written various articles concerning hypothyroidism including information on diagnostics and treatment. She enjoys learning alongside others and passing on vital information regarding this condition. Naomi is actively monitoring and writing for the National Academy of Hypothyroidism both on the site and social media.

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