4274823 tn?1388529098

Relationship between ferretin (iron) & thyroid function

I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I have hypothyroidism and I'm not on any thyroid medication.

Someone on this forum once stated, "If your thyroid levels are not optimal you may find it continually difficult to raise ferretin."

I have been taking a liquid iron supplement called Floravit for several months and my ferretin is still low. I don't know if this is because I was taking too low a dose (up to 20 mg instead of 30 - 35 mg), if I have an absorption issue, or if my ferretin will not improve until my thyroid is treated. I understand that iron is important to thyroid function. I thought if I could boost my iron level maybe I could get my thyroid to work better.

What is your experience with/understanding of the connection between ferretin/iron and your thyroid function?
18 Responses
649848 tn?1534633700
I hope some others will chime in as well, but I found this... sorry, I can't post a link for you to read the whole article...

"How Does Iron Relate To Thyroid Health?

As I mentioned earlier, iron is necessary to help deliver oxygen to all of the areas of the body, and this of course includes the thyroid gland.  Iron, along with other minerals, is important for thyroid hormone synthesis.  Even though selenium is the main mineral involved in converting T4 to T3, iron also plays a role in this.  Iron is also important for the formation of cortisol, and in other articles I’ve spoken about how the adrenals can affect thyroid health.  Earlier in this article I also stated how iron is important for optimal immune system health, which is important for those people with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Also remember that people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions commonly have hypochlorhydria, which can affect iron absorption.  So while iron can have both a direct and indirect effect on thyroid health, a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition can also impact the iron levels."

Hypochlorhydria is low stomach acid, which is often related to acid reflux/GERD, which many people with hypothyroidism find to be an issue... The treatment for this, is adding more acid to the stomach, not taking things to reduce acid production.  

This is kind of "chicken or egg" situation... Your latest TSH was 10+ and your FT4 was on the floor of the range, so at this point, it's a toss up as to whether your iron deficiency is causing your thyroid condition or your thyroid condition is causing your iron levels to be lower...
4274823 tn?1388529098
Thank you very much for sharing this info.

Please note the underlying cause of my thyroid condition has never been investigated or determined. If I don't have an autoimmune condition and I significantly increase the amount of iron through a supplement it just might help my thyroid to function better than it is now.  

Can an autoimmune thyroid condition go undetected by a one-time antibodies or develop post diagnosis? Or if the test says that's not the problem than one can rule it out completely?

Knowing if I am dealing with an iron absorption issue or not would really help me try to figure the best way to proceed.

Since a relationship exists between iron and thyroid if I can manage to boost my iron significantly through supplementation & food and my thyroid still doesn't get better than taking thyroid hormone medication makes sense to me.

Please note I do not have acid reflux/GERD. Thanks.
4274823 tn?1388529098
Sorry the statement ought to have read, "Can an autoimmune thyroid condition
go undetected by a one-time antibodies test or develop over time/post initial diagnosis of hypothyroidism?
649848 tn?1534633700
Yes, I'm aware that the cause of your thyroid condition has never been determined; however, the #1 cause of hypothyroidism in the developed world is Hashimoto's so many doctors, automatically assume that's what you have - sometimes, wrongly, but that's what they do.  That's what my diagnosing physician did; it just so happened, that when I was tested, later by a different doctor my TPOab was elevated and I was subsequently diagnosed with Hashimoto's.

Iron deficiency isn't only important for those of us with an autoimmune condition... In the first paragraph, it says "Iron, along with other minerals, is important for thyroid hormone synthesis.  Even though selenium is the main mineral involved in converting T4 to T3, iron also plays a role in this."  
That goes for everyone, whether their thyroid condition is autoimmune or not.  

The autoimmune issue was more in relation to hypochlorhydria, since many people with hypothyroidism have acid reflux/GERD and aren't aware that, one, it's a hypo symptom and two, it's from too little acid not too much.  I didn't know if that was a problem for you or not.

Yes, it's possible that an autoimmune condition could go undetected if you only had one negative test... did you have both of the antibodies tested?  How long ago was that?  It's possible that the antibodies hadn't ramped yet, so maybe they're positive now.  You have to have, both, TPOab and TgAb, in order to make sure you get a diagnosis... a thyroid ultrasound would also be good... Some people would say that Hashimoto's can be ruled out if the antibodies are negative; I've heard of some people being diagnosed on the basis of an ultrasound that showed characteristics of Hashimoto's, or with nodules.

As far as I know there really isn't any way to tell if you're dealing with an absorption issue.  The best thing to do is start making sure that all of your iron rich foods are paired with vitamin C rich foods and see if that helps.  I know you said your iron supplement contains vitamin C, but it may not be enough when you're eating iron, as well.  From what I've been reading, you need to pair iron containing food with vitamin C containing food to get the best absorption of the iron.  I haven't researched whether calcium or other minerals might block absorption of either of those nutrients... that might be something to ask your ND... or you might want to try separating calcium containing foods like yogurt/kefir from the iron and vitamin C containing foods... That's a lot of juggling and planning that might not even work.

Here's my thought and you can take it for what it's worth, then make your own decision... we know there's a relationship between iron and thyroid and we also know that it can be a "which came first, the chicken or the egg" situation... You've tried bringing your iron levels up, both with supplementation and food intake and that didn't work, so maybe you could try thyroid med now and see if, both, thyroid and iron levels come up...
4274823 tn?1388529098
I don't think my first attempt at supplementation and food intake to improve my iron was a fair trial. I didn't know that I should have been taking more liquid iron per day (30 - 35 mg verus 20 mg) and I wasn't as good lately with consuming foods containing iron such as preparing quinoa and eating pumpkin seeds while combining it with sources of Vitamin C.

Another thing of note is that my body temperature has improved significantly with the introduction of the adrenal tonic called Strest. Before I felt cold most of the time. This was one of the prominent symptoms affecting my comfort level.

Here are my ferretin numbers from 2013 - present. Reference ranges are 31 - 70 ug/L reduced iron stores and 80 - 300 ug/L normal iron stores. One factor to keep in mind is the fluctuation depending on where I happen to be in my menstrual cycle for each test. 12/09/13 - 39, 07/24/14 - 37, 01/16/15 - 58, 07/02/15

Iron panel through ND (paid out of pocket). I'm sorry I can't find the reference ranges for it as the moment.

My TSH fluctuates so much over time that it is possible it might lower itself again.

Here are my TSH numbers from 2011 to present. Reference range is 0.35 - 5.00 miU/L. Dates are stated month/day/year.If not stated the results are am.
I now go 1st thing in the morning consistently instead of whenever.
02/14/11 time N/A - 10.79, 07/22/11 pm - 9.48, 12/05/11 - 43.8 (iodine induced by 1st ND), 01/19/12 - 8.41, 07/16/12 - 7.43, 08/13/12 - 4.61, 01/21/12 pm - 4.03, 03/18/13 pm - 5.58, 07/30/13 time N/A - 3.73, 11/04/13 pm - 4.5, 12/09/13 - 10.43, 01/31/14 - 6.57, 05/02/14 - 4.97, 07/24/14 - 5.95, 01/15/15 - 5.74, 07/02/15 - 10.53

Plus I am going on vacation out of province for a week later this summer. So now is hardly the time to experiment with a hormone drug that could make me feel worse before it might possibly make me feel better.

I wish to see what my thyroid and iron levels are in 3 months. If at that time neither improves then I will likely have to try conventional thyroid medication. My ND supports this decision. She suggested I modestly increase the adrenal tonic which I purchase at the local natural health store as well as increase the iron intake (supplement/food).

Anti-thyroid peroxidase antibody and anti-thyroglobulin antibody were tested by my GP 12/13/11. I don't have a copy of the results, but I was told they were OK. Maybe I ought to see if I can get a copy before I consider paying out of pocket to have the ND order the 2 thyroid antibody tests?

4274823 tn?1388529098

07/02/15 - 27 ug/L Reference rang e12 - 125 ug/L

4274823 tn?1388529098
Sorry, I just posted a ferretin test result without labelling it as such.
4274823 tn?1388529098
Barb135 wrote, "I hope some others will chime in as well, but I found this..."

Please feel free to share your research and personal experience. Thanks.
649848 tn?1534633700
Even though your TSH has fluctuated some (not wildly), it has remained consistently high, since 2011 and if I recall correctly, your FT4 levels have been consistently low.  Both of these indicate that your thyroid is not producing adequate amounts of thyroid hormones.  From my own experience and here on the forum, once a thyroid fails, it's not coming back to life and the sooner one starts medication, the easier it is to keep symptoms at bay. That said, it's entirely up to you, whether or not you start taking medication or not.

I, purposely, began taking my thyroid hormones prior to going on a 3 week vacation, in hopes that I'd start feeling better while on vacation as I didn't want it ruined by the sad state of my health.  While I was a long way from "healthy" or feeling great, I managed to have a much better vacation than I'd have had without the medication.

Since your doctor told you that TPOab and TgAb were "OK", back in 2011, we would presume that those results were under the upper level of the reference range.  That being the case, those tests would have to be repeated to see if antibodies have ramped up since then.
4274823 tn?1388529098
Thank you very much for your post.

I guess I must appear stubborn. I actually feel scared and unsure.

One of things I struggle with is decision-making as you are well aware of from
my putting off the decision regarding conventional, prescription thyroid medication. It's been offered by both my GP and his NP.  After my negative experience with too much iodine in 2011 even alternative, natural thyroid medications that are vegetarian-friendly aren't an option because they all seem
to contain a significant amount of iodine. Next appointment with my ND is July 23.
4274823 tn?1388529098
Plant based iron is supposedly harder to absorb than animal based iron so I am at a disadvantage as a vegetarian in terms of my intake both through food and supplementation (Floravit).
649848 tn?1534633700
Well, yes, now that you mention it, you do appear somewhat stubborn... LOL  I wish you had expressed your fear of the medication much sooner; we could have dealt with that much sooner.

I do understand your fear, but keeping yourself ill isn't the answer.

Taking thyroid replacement hormones is not the same as taking plain iodine like you did before... I'm not sure I can explain it well, but I'll try.

The ingredients in synthetic thyroid hormones are the active ingredient, which is levothyroxine sodium, plus fillers and binders that hold the pills together... Levothyroxine "does" contain iodine, but it also contains other ingredients to make the complete hormone that's identical to the T4 your thyroid would make if it could ... it's completely different from taking iodine that the body is going to try to make the hormones from. Even desiccated pills are complete hormones and contain ingredients, other than iodine.  They can all be adjusted in such a way as to avoid over medication.

I hope that makes some sense to you.

You will, most likely, be started on a very low dosage, particularly, if you ask your doctor to do that and only increased when your body has adjusted to the medication.  It's definitely "not" the same thing.  

Yes, from what I've read, plant based iron is harder to absorb than animal based iron.  Your vitamin C may be even more important.
4274823 tn?1388529098
I did mention my fear before. You must have forgotten since you reply to so many people with thyroid concerns on this forum. I know because I remember mentioning a concern about the binders, fillers, and dye.

I just don't understand why you and others don't appreciate that I wish to make every attempt to support my body to work properly on its own before resorting to a pharmeutical that I have to take for the rest of my life. I don't have a drug plan and money is alright tight. Desiccated pills aren't an option as I am a vegetarian.

I think it is likely worth it to try the iron supplement this time with a vitamin C supplement. I'll consult my ND.

4274823 tn?1388529098
Thanks for providing the drug info.
4274823 tn?1388529098
By the way I didn't take plain iodine. I took something with high iodine content, but other ingredients prescribed by the 1st ND I consulted. He flooded my system with iodine and made the hypothyroidism worse.
4274823 tn?1388529098
You wrote, 'Levothyroxine "does" contain iodine. I will have to consult a pharmacist somewhere to find out if it is only a trace amount. Otherwise it could be as problematic as the Thyroid Px that I had to discontinue.
649848 tn?1534633700
I am aware that you were overdosed on iodine; I'm sorry I don't recall a specific reference to the iodine in thyroid hormone medication...

The following the structure for Synthroid:

"SYNTHROID® (levothyroxine sodium tablets, USP) contain synthetic crystalline L-3,3',5,5'-tetraiodothyronine sodium salt [levothyroxine (T4) sodium]. Synthetic T4 is identical to that produced in the human thyroid gland. Levothyroxine (T4) sodium has an empirical formula of C15H10I4N NaO4 • H2O, molecular weight of 798.86 g/mol (anhydrous)"

"Inactive Ingredients: acacia, confectioner's sugar (contains corn starch), lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, povidone, and talc"  

The formula didn't post exactly right... the numbers would be sub-script, but you can find it online.

To put it very simply, it has 4 atoms of iodine and via the conversion process one is dropped off to become the T3 hormone that the individual cells use, just like the T4 hormone your body produces.  But by all means do talk to your pharmacist, maybe s/he can explain it better than I.

I most certainly appreciate your attempts to improve your thyroid function via diet and I'm sorry you feel I haven't been supportive enough in spite of hours of research to help you find the right foods/combinations and supplements, and answer your questions to the best of my ability.
4274823 tn?1388529098
Thanks for the info.

I have thanked you for each post you have kindly shared. All of the info/experience you have put out there not just for me, but others reading the forum is appreciated. What works for you may not work for me or someone else. I am glad thyroid hormone treatment is helping you. I am now even more leery of Synthroid, etc learning that it contains iodine.

Re: other ingredients
Confectioner's sugar, really? Seems bizarre and is artificial. Lactose even though one isn't suppose to take thyroid medication with calcium, strange.  

Please note I don't have a pharmacist as I haven't taken a prescription drug since 1993. I will have to ask around and find someone reputable to talk with.

Part of my plan to try to improve my thyroid function and overall well-being also includes acupuncture and other things through my ND to reduce stress such as deep breathing and practicing gratitude ... I have an active job and I enjoy walking so I do get daily exercise.

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