Iron Deficiency And Inflammation - How Are They Related?


Iron deficiency can occur when the iron is lost to the body over a long period of time. This happens when iron-bound in the blood pigment hemoglobin is excreted faster than it can be replaced by a new intake.




Adequate intake of iron in food is very important. Inadequate utilization of iron should, therefore, be recognized at an early stage and compensated accordingly.





Anemic Blood Cells




Why is iron essential for our body?




Iron performs important key functions in the human body: it not only ensures smooth oxygen transport from the lungs to the cells but also plays a crucial role in energy metabolism. Because iron is significantly involved in the formation of the cell energy source ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which supplies the body's cells with energy. A sufficient supply of iron contributes significantly to your performance and health and is therefore of the utmost importance for the human organism.




What causes iron deficiency?




Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency disease worldwide: around two billion people are affected. This high number is explained not least by the various causes that can be responsible for the lack of iron:




  1. Insufficient intake of ferrous food.
  2. Excessive iron loss due to prolonged chronic bleeding.
  3. Diseases that lead to reduced iron absorption (e.g. Crohn's disease).
  4. Menstruation in women.
  5. Indigestion.




Certain physical changes can also increase the iron requirement: women need almost 100% more iron during pregnancy. The need is also significantly increased during breastfeeding, in the growth phase of children and with regular blood donors.




What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?




If there is too little iron in the blood, the body tissues cannot get enough oxygen and the energy metabolism only works to a limited extent. Typical symptoms are mainly weaknesses in the body:




  1. Paleness.
  2. Brittle nails and hair.
  3. Difficulties swallowing.
  4. Headache.
  5. Dizziness.
  6. Shortness of breath.
  7. Learning and concentration difficulties.
  8. Mental instability.
  9. Fatigue and listlessness.

How is iron deficiency related to inflammation?
Hepcidin was discovered in 2000 and was called the "Master Regulator" of iron metabolism. It is the gatekeeper for letting iron in and out of the cells. Hepcidin affects the following key processes related to iron metabolism: In 2000, scientists discovered a compound called hepcidin, and deemed it the “Master Regulator” of iron metabolism. Essentially, hepcidin controls whether iron can get into and out of cells (via ferroportin, the main channel for iron flux into and out of cells). This affects a few key processes related to iron metabolism:
  • Iron absorption from the digestive tract
  • Iron recycling from damaged cells
  • Utilization of iron from ferritin stores
Hepcidin levels rise when circulating iron levels are high. When this happens iron absorption from food decreases, which in turn, lowers the amount of recycled iron in your system. This causes ferritin to levels to increases thus protecting the body from an overload of iron. Inflammation causes hepcidin production to rise, this is good because it creates a defense against organisms that can produce diseases. These organisms, just like us, rely on iron to survive. Our bodies amazing response to this is by releasing more hepcidin and removing iron from our blood stream. In this way the organisms that cause diseases can not survive. This results in an increase in ferritin since ferritin is the storage form of iron. Ferritin is usually a good measure of overall iron status, but in the presence of inflammation, it functions as an immune response, not as a marker of iron status. How to measure inflammation Lab Me uses highly sensitive c-reactive protein called hs-CRP. We measure hsCRP because it is a highly stable marker of inflammation compared other frequently measured inflammatory markers and the research around hs-CRP and lifestyle based diseases is substantial. It also spikes from working out but will return to normal within 72 hours.

Poor diet & lifestyle - as well as - hormone based birth control, autoimmune disease and obesity can also cause high levels.
How can I test & track my iron levels from home?

Lab Me's Athletic Overload at home blood test allows you to test, track and monitor: Ferritin
Glucose. Whether you are a sprinter or concerned about your iron blood metabolism – the Lab Me Overload Health Test is the ultimate in iron metabolism testing.

You can also find hs-CRP and hbA1C in our Lab Me Baseline and Executive Testing. Both of these are more focused around lifestyle based diseases rather than just iron metabolism.











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