In this article you’ll learn another factor that could be responsible for your decreased iron levels, that has absolutely nothing to do with how much iron you get in your nutrition.
The Basics Of Low Iron Levels
Most of us correctly assume that our iron levels in our diet depend on the iron levels in our nutrition. As dietary iron is important in preserving our internal iron levels.
Most of us vegans also already know that there’s a difference in the absorption rates of iron from animal or plant origin. Iron found in animal products has a bioavailability of 10-35%, while iron in plant products has a bioavailability between 1-20%.
Yet more iron in our body is not better.
This study here outlines that moderate to high iron levels are in fact a good predictor of early death. The higher the iron levels were in the blood, the higher the chances of all cause mortality – meaning, death of any cause.
Iron As Food For Pathogens
Turns out that iron is long known as a preferred nutrient for bacteria and viruses.
So a natural response of our body when dealing with inflammation of an infection is to lower the iron levels in our body.
Because most microorganisms can reproduce in minutes. So what constrains their reproduction is not finding a partner or pregnancy – as it does in humans – but availability of nutrients.
E. coli for example can literally reproduce in 20minutes under optimal conditions. This means it would take less than 7 hours to get 1 million of these bacteria.
If you give it another 9 hours, you can lay out the circumference of the earth with e.coli alone.
The reason we’re all not walking in oceans of e. Coli is because the reproduction is naturally restricted by the nutrients available.
And a similar thing our body does. Lower the amount of nutrients, lower the spread of infection.
Lower The Amount Of Iron, Low The Spread Of Infection
We see that hypothesis proven in a study of almost 20,000 patients suffering from kidney failure. The more iron you inject in patients, the higher the risk of death due to infection.
Another study showed that HIV patients suffer from a more rapid worsening of symptoms if they do have high iron levels.
Which brings me to the 2. key takeaways of this article:
1. Anemia of Chronic Disorders
If you have very low iron levels, and they do not get improved by iron supplementation – you might be suffering from an untreated chronic disorder that worsens with your supplementation attempts.
You might be suffering from what scientists call ‘anemia of chronic disorders’. Where the iron deficiency – and the resulting anemia – is not the cause of your illness but a symptom. It’s worth stopping the supplementation of iron – and instead take an extensive blood test if you think that this is the case.
I’d specifically test interleukin-1 to see if this is in reference range.
2. Iron supplementation is often not required
Iron supplementation, with only moderate to even slightly lower iron levels, is not required without clear symptoms of anemia.
In fact, it turns out that higher levels of iron in our blood are linked with higher all-cause mortality. So maybe the decreased amount of absorption rate of non-heme iron in plants is actually a good thing.