THE FINAL RISK CATEGORY IS REDUCED ABSORPTIVE CAPACITY OR MALABSORPTION.
Iron is an essential mineral, that means that our bodies can’t make it…we have to get it from our diets.
BUT if our ability to absorb it is reduced that can quickly lead to low iron levels.
So again, those with compromised digestive systems like IBS, IBD, crohn’s and celiac have a hard time absorbing iron because of the inflammation in the gut.
- Surgeries that alter the digestive tract like gastric bypass or vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
These procedures can reduce your body’s ability to absorb iron and you can wind up iron deficient.
- Intestinal infection, bacterial overgrowth like H Pylori, or the presence of parasites.
The presence of these unwanted pathogens can affect the iron your body is able to absorb, so you doctor may need to order tests to identify or rule out these possible causes.
- Another factor that is often overlooked, is frequent use of antacids or PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors)
These medications are designed to reduce the acidity of the stomach and alleviate the symptoms of GERD or acid reflux…BUT the problem is that non-heme iron requires an acidic environment for absorption.
So by reducing the acidity of the stomach through the use of antacids, you are greatly reducing your ability to absorb non-heme iron.
- The final factor that affects iron absorption is simply dietary intake.
Vegans and vegetarians are at high risk for iron deficiency because their diet lacks heme iron from meat, which is much more readily absorbed than non-heme or plant based iron.
This is because there are a number of compounds in many of our food and drinks that inhibit or block non-heme iron absorption.
For example, if you frequently drink coffee, tea, or milk, the tannic acid and calcium in these drinks actually binds to the iron in your intestines and greatly reduces absorption.