Kirk Gair, DC, Contributor
This is a pretty common problem with thyroid and autoimmune patients. Here is a checklist of 14 common signs that you may have an iron deficiency, followed by what tests to get and how to address it:
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Shortness of breath
- Coldness in your hands and feet
- Pale skin and/or pale nail beds
- Chest pain, palpitations
- Weakness and fatigue
- Brittle nails
- Swelling or soreness of the tongue and/or cracks in the sides of the mouth
- Frequent infections
- Pica, which is an unusual craving for nonfood items, such as ice, dirt, paint, or starch
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
- Bright red blood in the stools or black, tarry-looking stools, a sign of intestinal bleeding
As you see, many of those symptoms are also related to other conditions, which is why it is important to get proper lab testing and the help of a functional medicine practitioner to figure out WHY you have this issue and how to address the root cause.
Causes of chronically low iron can include celiac disease, leaky gut, hypochlorhydria, intestinal bleeding, parasites, chronic infections, heavy menstruation, and more.
1) Serum Iron
2) Serum Ferritin
3) Iron Saturation %
4) Iron Binding Capacity
This will give you a more complete idea of your iron level compared to serum iron alone. Ferritin are your iron stores, and they will often be the first ones to drop to indicate an early iron need.
The next step is you need to get a proper workup of blood tests, to see WHY you have this going on.
Ruling out an intestinal bleed or parasite is important. If those are ruled, then supplementation with iron to get the levels back up is important. Anemias like this are 1 of the 3 thing Dr Kharrazian refers to as a “deal breaker”, that if not corrected will be a major road block to getting better.
Many patients need to take a digestive enzyme supplement along with the iron to assist in absorption. I prefer patients to try to get their vitamins and minerals from food, such as organic grass fed beef, but a quality supplement can help in cases where that is not an option.
Elimination of foods that harm the gut such as gluten and casein are also important.
Make sure to keep checking your iron levels so they do not go too high, because iron overload is very dangerous and can cause serious damage to organs.
As always, your best course of action is to find a good practitioner to help you navigate the causes and order the proper tests.
About the Author
Dr Kirk Gair, DC, IDE, graduated with Honors from Southern California University of Health Sciences in 1999. He began utilizing Cold Laser Treatments in 2004 and combining them with traditional chiropractic treatments to get some amazing results. Since that time, he trained with world renowned experts, like Dr Jeff Spencer, who worked with Olympic Champions, Professional football and baseball teams and World Series MVPs, golfers, and tennis legends. Check out his website, LaserChiropractic.net and follow him on Facebook.
Has your doctor ordered all these tests to check your iron level? If you have had chronically low levels, have they tried to figure out the cause? We’d love your comments below.