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low ferritin and high TSH levels


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#1 Guest__*

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 06:20 PM

Hello, this is my first time posting on this forum and I wanted to say thank you for all of your wonderful advice. You provide a great service. Having said that I need some advice. I was diagnosed with PD on February 4th of this year, I am a 45 year old female and I am currently not on any medication. My problem is that I have chronically low ferritin levels and despite taking iron supplements for almost a year now and just being retested, my levels are still below normal. I have great fatigue with this disease which I am sure my low ferritin does not help and my TSH was just tested again and it has always been normal my whole life even five months ago and this last test came back elevated. It was 7.7, with the lab range for normal being 0.38-5.5 mU/L. My question is despite eating foods high in iron and despite taking supplements is it a problem having low iron stores and also I have read that low iron stores can sometimes affect your thyroid. Is that true. I am reluctant to treat my thyroid right now until I have it retested, in case it was a one time thing.I have alot of problems with delayed stomach emptying, could this be creating a problem for me with absorption problems? Also most iron supplements really pose problems for my stomach so I was taking a liquid formula called Floradix and another one called spatone that is a high iron water. About 30mgs a day of iron. I also eat very well, all organic food including organic beef, and chicken on a regular basis. I was hoping you might have some advice for me. I have had problems with my iron stores my whole life. Maybe its not a problem at all. My hemoglobin is always normal 149, 120-150 g/L being the range for my lab and my ferritin was 11,15-180 ug/L the range. Thanks for taking the time to read this rather long post.
Cheers,
Sammy

#2 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 08:47 AM

Dear Sammy,
Lab ranges for ferritin values vary somewhat; some labs have a range of 12 - 150 ng/ml. If your testing had been done by this lab, your ferritin level would be only slightly below normal. If your ferritin levels have chronically been lower than 11, then your diligence in using iron supplements has paid off. If you are not already doing so, it can help absorption to take the iron supplements with something acid – orange juice, a salad with vinaigrette, etc.

Regarding delayed stomach emptying, it might affect iron absorption; but often, the stomach contents mixed with stomach acids create an acidic environment that would boost absorption. The exception would be if you are not producing enough stomach acid in the first place. Some people find that taking a tablespoon of vinegar with meals increases the acidity needed for the stomach to properly digest a meal, and this would be worth trying. If in fact you chronically produce too little stomach acid, that might also account for poor iron absorption.

It’s also possible that ginger might speed stomach emptying. You might try a cup of ginger tea with meals for a couple of months and see if it helps.

I think it’s a good idea to ask your doctor to re-check TSH; as it has always been normal, and your ferritin is currently only slightly low, it’s surely worth double-checking. Having said that, many of us do begin to experience a degree of hypothyroidism by the mid-forties, and it might partly account for some of the fatigue you experience.

Fatigue, though, is very common among folks with PD. In your case, it may be due to PD, or to a thyroid condition, but other possibilities should be ruled out. Here are some possible causes of fatigue that need to be discussed with your doctor:

- anemia (besides iron-deficiency, there are also pernicious, megaloblastic anemias) – anemia is not uncommon in PD and definitely causes tiredness, fatigue, sometimes shortness of breath and dizziness

- B vitamin deficiency (can result in anemia)

- low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) – can lead to fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations

- deficiency of coenzyme Q10 – when present, taking supplements of CoQ10 10 often gives more energy

- malnutrition (not likely in your case, as you eat extremely well)

- depression

- waning energy at the same time each day – sometimes energy levels drop after lunch; the body’s energy is diverted to metabolizing the food eaten, and it can result in sleepiness or fatigue; could that be a possibility?

I hope this is helpful, and provides you with material to discuss with your doctor. Write back and let me know how you're doing.
Best regards,

Kathrynne Holden, MS

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#3 Guest__*

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 11:37 AM

Hi, Thanks so much for your prompt and informative reply.
I have a few more questions. I noticed that the liquid iron supplement that I have been taking for about 8 months or so contains kelp as an ingredient. I have been reading that kelp can sometimes cause thyroid problems. I have noticed in my case that my TSH levels have steadily climbed upward since I started taking this iron. Do you know if there is a connection between kelp and thyroid dysfunction. I know it contains varying amounts of iodine.
Also about the same time as starting the iron last year, my naturopath put me on a brown rice diet. Basically I ate brown rice and all the fruit and veggies I wanted. I could have eggs, fish and turkey and chicken. No red meat initially. No dried fruits, no sugar or sweetener of any kind. No dairy, soy, or wheat or peanut butter. I guess she was trying to eliminate any thing that could potentially cause an allergy. After a month I could add a few things back at a time and see how I reacted. I have now been on this diet for about eight months because I found it really stabilized blood sugar swings. My question, is it unhealthy to eat this way for a long period of time. I have since added back some dairy in the form of yogurt and a small amount of milk for my tea. Are there any nutrients that are lacking from eating this way. I guess it is low carb. I eat lots of extra virgin olive oil on my food and take fish supplements. I also take a liquid B complex every day. Thanks for reading all of this.
Cheers,
Sammy

#4 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 07:29 AM

Dear Sammy,
I would not add iodine except upon your physician’s recommendation; it can affect the thyroid. As long as you use iodized salt, it’s not likely that you need iodine supplements. As your TSH has become elevated coincident with the addition of kelp, it’s certainly possible the added iodine is too much in your case. This is something you need to discuss with your doctor.

Your diet sounds fine – whole brown rice, vegetables and fruits, eggs, fish, poultry, along with yogurt seems quite balanced, although without knowing portion sizes, frequency, and amounts, I can’t be certain.

I recommend you try one of the online diet analyzers, to give you a general idea as to whether you’re meeting your nutrient needs. I would also ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian, who can view your diet analysis, your medical records, and your lab reports, and provide you with the detailed medical nutrition therapy that will best meet your needs.
Best regards,

Kathrynne Holden, MS

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