Some common symptoms of a thyroid disorder include weight gain, low energy, constipation, headaches, anxiety, dry hair and nails. Many patients are on medications for thyroid dysfunction but continue to report that their symptoms haven’t gotten much better. New research has shown that the addition of a key nutrient can help with the resolution of symptoms.
Iron has been found to affect thyroid function in the body. It is an important part of hemoglobin, the part of the red blood cells that carry oxygen. Without enough iron, you can become anemic. This affects your ability to carry oxygen to tissues, creates fatigue, and affects thyroid hormones in the body. The thyroid hormones most affected are TSH, T3, and T4.
The most common thyroid dysfunctions are autoimmune in nature, namely Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease. People with autoimmune thyroid dysfunction often have inflammatory gut conditions affecting their ability to absorb iron. Celiac disease is another factor that can decrease iron absorption. This will decrease your ferritin level.
The Proceedings of Nutrition Society published an article in February, 2019 highlighting the importance of the ferritin level in patients who are on thyroid medication. In two-thirds of women who had persistent hypothyroid symptoms and were on medication, ferritin levels above 100 resolved their symptoms.
What does this mean for you? Get your ferritin levels checked! Ask your functional medicine doctor for appropriate lab testing since low ferritin is associated with plenty of symptoms. Until now it was unclear how important ferritin levels were for thyroid function. However, do not simply start taking iron without getting your levels checked. Iron can become toxic if it’s not needed. And don’t forget about proper gut function so your nutrients/supplements can be absorbed properly.
Persistent hypothyroid symptoms can be extremely frustrating especially when you are on medication, but there are additional factors that should be assessed. Contact me for more information.