Hypothyroidism and iron deficiency have more in common than you might know or think. This brief post will examine their relationship and how SET-DB™ can help.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where:
Some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism—fatigue, cold intolerance, hair loss—are also possible symptoms of iron deficiency. Iron-deficient individuals may also experience irregular heart beat, anxiety, and restless leg syndrome.
Did you know the thyroid is closely connected to the gut? When there is adequate T3 supply to stomach cells they produce hydrochloric acid, which, among other things, helps break down protein. Most of the iron we eat (at least the most bioavailable iron) is found in animal protein. If we don’t digest the protein, we can’t get at the iron in it.
So, low T3 is tied to low stomach acid and low iron.
And, iron is an an important mineral to test for sensitivity, and treat if necessary with SET-DB™. It’s a must-do treatment in the SET-DB™ Thyroid Protocol and is found in the Minerals Category/BioSurvey.
How is low thyroid hormone availability connected to hair loss?
The answer may be ferritin. From Wikipedia:
“Ferritin is a universal intracellular protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion. The protein is produced by almost all living organisms, including algae, bacteria, higher plants, and animals. In humans, it acts as a buffer against iron deficiency and iron overload. Ferritin is found in most tissues as a cytosolic (dissolved in the cell’s cytoplasm) protein, but small amounts are secreted into the serum where it functions as an iron carrier. Plasma ferritin is also an indirect marker of the total amount of iron stored in the body, hence serum ferritin is used as a diagnostic test for iron-deficiency anemia.”
Emphasis is mine.
Here is a direct connection between ferritin and hair loss, as found on Dr. Philip Kingsley’s site:
“Correct ferritin levels maximize your hair’s ‘anagen’ or ‘growing’ phase and encourage your hairs to grow to their full length. When you aren’t getting enough iron through your diet, your body takes ferritin stored in non-essential tissue, like your hair bulb, and gives it to essential tissue, such as your heart. Because your hair bulb is where all your hair cells are produced, this leeching of ferritin can cause your hair to shed before it reaches its maximum length.
The average reference ranges for ferritin are 14-170 micrograms per litre, but our research shows that ferritin should be at least 80 ug/L (micrograms per litre) in women for hair follicles to function at their best.”
After some research on the subject, like most lab values, optimal ferritin levels for individuals can vary. One thing I did learn is ferritin can be high for reasons other than excess iron. Systemic inflammation can raise ferritin levels due to its role as an acute phase reactant that up-regulates in response to inflammation or oxidative stress.
So, if one wants to be really careful, they wouldn’t have their ferritin checked when they’re sick, or get a hs-CRP test that measures overall inflammatory status. If hs-CRP is elevated, the ferritin level may say nothing about iron status.
Furthermore, on this subject, Mark Sisson writes:
“Come to think of it, if elevated ferritin can be a marker of inflammation and oxidative stress, the inflammation could be responsible for some of the negative health effects linked to high ferritin. Or, if having too much iron in the body can increase oxidative damage, it may be that high iron levels are increasing inflammation which in turn increases ferritin even further. Biology gets messy. Lots of feedback loops.”
Biology can indeed get messy and science is still learning much about the role iron plays in the human body.
Here is Sisson's follow-up post on Iron.
As for SET-DB™ and ferritin, I couldn’t find ferritin in ZYTO’s library so I added it to the Thyroid Protocol library. It’s not yet in a BioSurvey so you’ll have to test it separately. Sorry Select owners. Eventually I’ll have it in a BioSurvey, when I figure out what else to put it with.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone start on an iron supplement or purposely increase their consumption of iron-containing foods until they’ve had their iron and ferritin tested. A complete anemia panel should include serum iron, transferrin, TIBC, and the saturation percentage.
As a side note, part of the ongoing attack on meat eating is the claim that the iron in meat promotes colon cancer. Sisson unpacks that in the post I referenced earlier, but here’s the gist of it:
The relationship between heme iron (the kind found in meat) and colon cancer is conditional on iron oxidating fatty acids in the colon. Not just any fatty acids, though. The kind found in seed oils, polyunsaturated fatty acids. In fact, studies seeking to prove that heme iron promotes colon cancer can’t get the cancer to “take” unless the lab animals are fed high-PUFA oils, like safflower oil. Feed them olive or coconut oil with the heme iron and the study can’t proceed because no cancer occurs.
Another good reason not to eat industrial seed oils, aside from their effect on the thyroid.
While researching this topic, and the thyroid in general, I took the time to read through the comments section of the posts. You should, too. It’s a real eye-opener. Skip the snark and pay attention to the ones from people who have been suffering with health problems despite improving their diet, seeing their MD (in most cases), and taking the supplements and/or medications they were told to take. Many have negative reactions to the pills and many just don’t get better.
Based on my experience, this is likely due to sensitivities to the nutrients they need to enjoy improved health, but also to all the nutrient groups as well as foods. This is where SET-DB™ can help. Clearing a sensitivity to iron or ferritin could well allow someone to better handle those substances, which could be a big part in them enjoying better thyroid health, and better health in general.
My wife and I have been on a ketogenic diet for about eight weeks, for weight loss and to help us gain control over our diet again (perhaps I should just speak for myself on that last one). In the past we always did the homeopathic version of the hCG diet, the one from DesBio we put patients on while in practice. It always worked well for us and we knew it inside and out, but we decided to try something different.
It was a little tough for a couple of weeks, mainly because we didn’t supplement with enough electrolyte replacements, but we’re humming along now. We’re at the point where we’re starting to add more carbs from starchier but healthy sources, like sweet potatoes. (We’ve been eating plenty of vegetables but no fruit). I’m down 17 pounds, my wife about 10 (but she looks like she’s lost more).
Anyway, this isn’t a keto diet post, it’s a thyroid post. While researching for my upcoming SET-DB™ Thyroid Protocol, I ran across some interesting information regarding dietary fat and the thyroid gland.
“It turns out the linoleic acid suppresses thyroid signaling.”
Here are some highlights of the post I linked above (Mark’s Daily Apple—great site):
When I developed my highly effective fibromyalgia treatment program, I didn’t feel the need to include dietary recommendations, for a number of reasons.
One, getting people to change their diet is difficult. Most have to be backed into a corner, facing serious health problems, before they’ll give up their favorite fast food meals and daily quarts of sugary soft drinks.
Two, the program is very effective without a change of diet. This suggests that diet doesn’t cause or greatly contribute to fibromyalgia, but I realize that may not be completely true. While the average patient sees a 67% decrease in their overall symptom profile, the fact is most had some symptom(s) at the end of the program, albeit far less than they had when they began. Diet modification could well have resolved some of those residual symptoms.
Three, sometimes you have to pick your battles. Those who raised or are raising children understand this. Do you want to spend your energy getting patients to come in for their treatments (which actually isn’t difficult at all because we got the money issue out of the way at the start) and take the few supplements you give them, which proved to be effective, or spend your time begging and pleading with them to stop eating at Burger King every day?
This won’t be the case with my upcoming thyroid protocol. As you just read (and there’s more to come, diet-wise), there’s enough evidence that diet does affect thyroid and thyroid hormone function.
The most important part of the program will, of course, be eliminating a person’s sensitivities to things like iodine, thyroid tissue (80–90% of hypothyroid sufferers have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), T3, T4, TSH, adrenal hormones, certain amino acids, etc. If this isn’t done, it’s likely supplementation with hormones or nutritionals will not work as well as they could, or at all.
Dr. Teryl Boothe and selected guests.