The Root Causes of Low Iron or Iron Deficiency

If your iron levels are sub-optimal, that means you need to uncover the root cause so you can get your levels back to safe and optimal ranges.

Keep in mind, iron imbalances are far more common than most people realize and can usually be resolved quickly and painlessly.

Secret Health Club editor’s note: Many people have too much iron leading to heart problems. This article is a starting point and is not meant to be definitive

Common Root Causes of Low Iron:

  • Digestive system imbalances―a poorly functioning digestive system cannot break down and absorb nutrients, like iron, effectively. This can be due to a compromised gut, low levels of stomach acid and digestive enzymes or digestive ailments like Leaky Gut Syndrome or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

  • Food sensitivities―certain trigger-foods can cause digestive imbalances which lead to poor absorption of iron and other key nutrients.

  • Diet―a diet lacking in iron, and its co-factors like vitamin C, is a common root cause of iron deficiency.

    • Vegetarians and vegans often suffer iron deficiency because they lack the more absorbable “heme” iron that comes only from animal sources. Non-heme iron, from plants, is nutritious but not as absorbable…especially without enough vitamin C or if digestive issues are at-play.

    • In addition, the phytates in certain grains, like wheat, can inhibit the absorption of iron if consumed in excess2.

  • Blood loss―this is a big causal factor of iron deficiency in women with heavy periods. Blood loss can also be caused by an accident, trauma, birth or more serious issue like a pathogenic infection or colon cancer.

The Root Causes of Low or High Ferritin Levels

Your ferritin levels give us precious insights into not only your iron levels and risk of anemia, but also your body’s level of inflammation which may indicate the presence of certain diseases and infections.

  • Autoimmune disease―causes chronic inflammation and can interfere with your body’s ability to process and/or properly absorb iron, causing elevated levels of ferritin.

  • Infections―such as Epstein Barr, can be indicated by high levels of ferritin.

  • Hereditary Hemochromatoses―is a genetic condition in which iron levels builds up in your system. While rare, it’s important to identify as this requires regular blood donation to control.

How to Address The Root Causes and Optimize Your Iron Levels Safely

Now that you understand the root causes behind iron deficiency, let’s look at how to get your iron levels where they ought to be.

If it’s a digestive health or food sensitivity issue, your Health Coach or practitioner may recommend any of the following:

  • An elimination diet―is an affordable and accurate way to rule out trigger foods that may be harming your digestive tract. “Trigger foods” to eliminate for a period of time may include gluten or other grains, dairy, sugar, soy and eggs.

  • Probiotic support―this may mean taking a multi-strain probiotic supplement and/or increasing your intake of probiotic-rich foods like kombucha, kim chi, cultured vegetables, real pickles, yogurt and kefir.

  • Digestive enzyme support―plant-based digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid supplements offer an effective way to support digestion while you work on healing your GI tract. Food-based sources of enzymes such as papaya, pineapple cultured or raw vegetables, may also be recommended.

If absorption and/or diet are at the root cause, your Health Coach or practitioner may recommend the following:

  • Iron supplementation―is a fast way to quickly increase your iron levels. However, be sure to work with your Health Coach or practitioner as too much supplemental iron can cause constipation. Plus, an excessof iron can cause a slew of separate health issues, so be sure to have your levels monitored regularly. 
  • Editors note: Don’t take iron without being sure you need it. have your B12 levels checked

  • Increasing your intake of vitamin C―which is crucial to optimal iron absorption. Vitamin C-rich foods include:

    • Cherries

    • Citrus fruits

    • Papaya

    • Broccoli

    • Kiwi

    • Brussels sprouts

    • Mango

    • Kohlrabi

    • Pineapple

    • Or supplementation may be indicated.

  • Increasing your intake of iron-rich foods such as:

    • Grassfed beef, bison and lamb

    • Organ meats, such as beef liver

    • Bone broths (these also aid in healing the digestive tract)

    • Dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, spinach, bok choy, chard, etc.

If you have a normal iron level and high ferritin, this suggests an inflammatory issue.Therefore, your Health Coach will help you focus on strategies to identify the root cause of that inflammation so it can be lowered, and on tracking your levels.

For high ferritin levels in addition to a high blood iron level, your Health Coach may refer you to a functional medical doctor for additional tests to rule out more serious conditions like Hereditary Hemochromatoses.

How Often to Track Your Iron Levels via Lab Work

This should be determined on an individual basis with your Health Coach or Functional Medicine practitioner.

That said, if your iron levels are off it’s a good idea to monitor your labs every few months to check progress and adjust your protocol accordingly.

FROM:-The knew Health Team

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3999603/

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2820048

February 28, 2018/7 Comments/byKristen Boye