Iron Deficiency Anemia and Gluten Sensitivity

By | August 7, 2013

Iron Deficiency Anemia and Gluten Sensitivity! Are They Related?

I rec’d this info in my email today,  Gluten Sensitivity and Iron Deficiency Anemia – Are They Related? and I am compelled to share it with you.  When I receive Dr. Osborne’s emails about Gluten Sensitivity I lea iron deficiency anemiarn more and more about my own health and this is why it is so vital for me to share it with you.  I feel by sharing information we can together improve our own health and the health of the world.

So sit back get comfortable and learn about Iron Deficiency Anemia and Gluten Sensitivity – Are they related by Dr. Osborne.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficits found in patients with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  The most common symptom linked to iron deficiency is unwavering fatigue.  Patients will often report a severe loss of energy even when sleep has been adequate.  This energy deprivation can also contribute to severe brain fog and mental clarity issues.  Iron deficiency can often time be confused with low thyroid or hypothyroidism.

Iron loss can contribute to a multitude of health problems – not just fatigue.

Some of the symptoms of low iron include:

  • shortness of breath (people often report that they cannot get enough air into their lungs)
  • irritability
  • extreme fatigue (people commonly report sleeping for 8 + hours and still waking up exhausted)
  • chronic recurrent infections (cold and flu)
  • craving ice
  • hair loss
  • headaches
  • weakened nails
  • restless legs syndrome
  • angular stomatitis (cracking in the corner of the lips)
  • chapped lips
  • easy bruising

Research Shows Iron Deficiency Linked to Gluten Exposure

The following research study published in the Turkish Journal of Gastroenterologydiscusses how an iron deficiency can be the first symptom associated with celiac disease.  The results of the research led to the recommendation of ruling out gluten sensitivity in all patients with iron deficiency anemia.  The study additionally recommends this screening in patients who supplement with iron, but still have persistently low levels (refractory iron deficiency).

Bottom line: if you suffer from any of the symptoms listed below for unknown reasons.  You should have your doctor do two things –

  1. Order an iron panel with ferritin
  2. Rule out gluten sensitivity

What You Should Know About Gluten and Iron

Gluten can contribute to iron deficiency in several ways.  Malabsorption of iron is often a consequence of villous atrophy.  Additionally, gluten can damage the acid-producing cells of the stomach.  Since acid is a necessary component for iron absorption, this commonly leads to anemia even in the absence of villous atrophy identification.

Anemia leads to oxygen deficiency which in turn can reduce the body’s ability to generate energy, which in turn can cause a cyclic state of healing inhibition.

Aside from gluten-induced damage, iron deficiency can occur in menstruating women with heavier periods.  Iron deficiency can also occur when there is slow steady blood loss.  This can occur in a hidden manner (occult blood loss) or it can be more obvious as in the case of hemorrhoids.

Lack Of Iron Causes Immune Problems

Iron is an essential element in the formation of lactoferrin, a protein used by the immune system to help fight gastrointestinal infections.  This includes viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections.  This is critical because, in the presence of persistent GI infection,leaky gut syndrome is allowed to perpetuate regardless of a gluten free diet change.  Additionally, the protein lactoferrin aids in both growth and in some studies have shown cancer protective qualities.

Children with iron deficiency often exhibit lethargic behavior and suffer from unexplainable fever spikes as well as chronic recurrent infections. Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

When I read this kind of information from Dr. Osborne and others that are doing great work in educating on Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease I find it amazing that I struggled so long with no help from the doctors I would see.gluten free resources

Thankfully since I have made the change to a gluten free diet I do feel really good.

How does this information on Iron Deficiency Anemia impact you?  For me, the biggest reason I began to realize I was at least gluten sensitive was because of the hard time I was having breathing go up the stairs.  It seems I needed to read this article on Iron Deficiency Anemia a few years ago.  Share your thoughts below

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It would be great to hear your comments on Iron Deficiency Anemia and Gluten Sensitivity


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