COMMON RISK FACTORS THAT CAUSE LOW IRON
Iron is an essential and vitally important mineral in our bodies…and yet, iron deficiency & iron deficiency anemia are the most common blood disorder worldwide.
Our bodies depend on iron for an incredible number of functions & processes, which is why the symptoms of iron deficiency can significantly affect your quality of life.
If you’re struggling with the symptoms of low iron...you might be asking what causes iron deficiency or am I at risk of becoming anemic?
Sometimes the culprit is easy to identify but other times it can take a bit of detective work!
Today we’re going to shine a light on common risk factors that might be causing your iron levels to drop, so that you can be proactive in solving the problem and raising your iron back to healthy levels.
So stick around to learn about some of these hidden risk factors!
THE FIRST RISK CATEGORY IS INCREASED IRON DEMAND.
Our bodies rely on iron for a huge number of our cellular and metabolic functions every single day. But what happens if our body starts to NEED more iron than it has available to USE?
What can cause us to start needing more iron than usual?
This happens because not only are you supplying your own needs, but now your body is responsible for supplying the essential nutrients for the growth of your baby as well.
I have been pregnant 5times and I was iron deficient every single time!
The growth spurts children and teenagers go through dramatically increase the body’s iron needs to allow for healthy growth.
BUT there’s a big problem with that… routine lab work doesn’t identify the first stages of low iron, this problem is usually not identified until the advanced stages of iron deficiency which is anemia!
Honestly, I actually think that some of the fatigue or sluggishness that teenagers are kinda famous for may actually be a symptom of low iron caused by the rapid growth they’re experiencing!
This happens because not only is iron lost through sweat and sloughing of skin cells during exercise, but the inflammation caused by intense exercise raises hepcidin levels which thereby decreases iron absorption from the diet.
So to make up for these losses the body needs more iron to maintain optimal athletic performance.
THE SECOND RISK CATEGORY IS FREQUENT LOSS OF BLOOD.
Our bodies work hard to keep iron at a healthy level, but when the body loses blood it may wind up struggling to compensate for that loss and iron deficiency will develop.
This happens because your body is constantly trying to restore optimal iron levels to make up for the blood loss you experience each and every month.
Also, many women unknowingly have uterine fibroids which can cause heavy monthly bleeding. (Fibroids are abnormal growths within the uterus that increase the surface area of the uterus.) This additional surface area increases the amount of blood lining your body produces each month.
If you experience heavy monthly bleeding, it is a good idea to discuss this with your doctor, so he or she can perform an ultrasound to identify the possible presence of fibroids.
This can include gastric ulcers, intestinal bleeds, or even hemorrhoids. Even very small or slow loss of blood will add up over time and can cause iron deficiency.
It's entirely possible that you may not be aware of these small blood losses. Your doctor can order several exploratory procedures to discover whether or not blood loss from the intestine is causing your low iron levels.
THE NEXT RISK CATEGORY THAT CAN CAUSE LOW IRON IS CHRONIC INFLAMMATION.
People with certain long term inflammatory conditions frequently develop iron deficiency.
These conditions include:
This happens because the inflammation caused by these conditions triggers the body to increase hepcidin levels, and hepcidin’s job is to block iron absorption….and eventually iron deficiency will occur.
Certain cancers also lead to low iron levels.
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.
These procedures can reduce your body’s ability to absorb iron and you can wind up iron deficient.
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.
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.
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.
Some Of The Things That Cause Iron Deficiency Are Easy To Identify…
but Others May Require Detective Work To Find The Root Of The Problem.
It’s definitely worth taking the time to discover what is causing your low iron levels. Here’s a quick recap of the common causes of iron deficiency we discussed:
For More Information about Fighting Back Against Iron Deficiency
Download Your FREE Copy of the Iron Repair Manual
World Health Organization on micronutrient deficiency
Herrmann, Wolfgang, Heike Schorr, Rima Obeid, and Jürgen Geisel.
Gibson S, Ashwell M. The association between red and processed meat consumption and iron intakes and status among British adults.
Public Health Nutr. 2003 Aug;6(5):485-96.
Disclaimer: This content is strictly the opinion of Krystal Moore or Three Arrows Nutra, LLC and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Krystal Moore, Three Arrows Nutra, LLC nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.