Hypothyroidism and Iron: Anemia and Hemochromatosis

Conditions related to iron levels in the blood are more common with hypothyroidism than in the average population, according to researchers.  Iron-deficiency anemia (insufficient iron) is more common in people with hypothyroidism.

Symptoms/Signs

  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Pale appearance to the lining of lower eyelids
  • palpitations, fast or irregular heart beat.
  • faintness and breathlessness
  • hair loss
  • bruising that occurs without reason
  • dizziness
  • long or unusually heavy menstrual periods

Anemia is diagnosed using a comprehensive iron panel blood test.
In addition to your doctor's recommendations regarding treatment for anemia and any suggested iron supplementation, you can also consider the following recommendations

  • Eat more foods that are good sources of iron.
  • Help your body absorb iron better by eating foods high in vitamin C.
  • Red meat can supply iron, but also helps your body absorb iron from other foods.
  • Limit your use of tea, except herbal teas.
  • Increase dietary fibre to prevent constipation.
  • Hemochromatosis is less common, but more frequently seen in people with hypothyroidism.

    Symptoms

  • chronic fatigue
  • arthritis-like pain in joints, in particular, the middle two fingers
  • loss of libido (sex drive), impotence
  • early absence of menstrual periods
  • changes in skin color, yellowish, bronze, grey, olive
  • redness in the palms
  • abdominal pain
  • shortness of breath
  • heart arrhythmia
  • depression
  • elevated blood sugar
  • Hemochromatosis is not easy to diagnose, as it is not revealed in routine blood work so doctors need to request specific tests to diagnose it.

    Treatment for hemochromatosis is a doctor-supervised program of giving blood, known as phlebotomy.

    Tips for increasing iron levels

    Eat iron-rich or iron enhancing foods

    Heme-iron, found in animal products has a higher absorption rate by the body than does non-heme iron, which is found in vegetables. 

    A few foods, that are high in heme-iron are: liver, clams, muscles, oysters, chicken & turkey

    Some foods that are high in non-heme iron: tofu, cooked beans and lentils, pumpkin seeds,

    cooked spinach, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and broccoli

    Iron-enhancing foods are those rich in vitamin C which enhances the level of iron absorption by the body. Avoid tea, coffee, and chard as these inhibit iron absorption.

    Take 1 Tbsp of blackstrap molasses in the morning and one in the afternoon. It's rich in iron that is quickly absorbed by the body. It will also give you an energy boost.

    Snack on raisins and/or figs - not only high in iron, but also high in vitamin C and fibre

    Use cast iron skillets or pans for cooking. It releases a small quantity of iron into your food.


    Do not take calcium supplements or diary products at least 4 hours before/after taking iron.