Getting sick frequently? Suffering from heavy periods? You may possibly be too high or deficient in iron, with the latter tending to be most common. Sometimes hereditary dispositions may cause high levels of iron, which may make you feel fatigued due to the oxidative stress it causes (Drakesmith & Prentice, 2008). When levels are too low, it affects the synthesis of ATP, also resulting in fatigue (Cherayil, 2010).
Iron is also involved in innate and adaptive immunity, which also requires a sweet spot in terms of levels, as some pathogens can feed off iron to grow (Cherayil, 2011). If iron is the culprit of your infections and fatigue, it could be either from low levels or high levels. The best way to check levels is to get a full iron study blood test from your functional medicine practitioner, where they can then ascertain what intervention is best.
If you know you struggle with high or low levels, here are some practical ways to help point them in the right direction:
These are great starting points to help regulate iron levels. However, if you’re struggling with low or high levels of iron, it’s always best to get checked regularly (approximately every 3 months) so current interventions can be re-established or changed, which can be discussed with your naturopath.
Cherayil, B. J. (2010). Iron and immunity: Immunological consequences of iron deficiency and overload. Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis, 58(6), 407–415. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00005-010-0095-9
Cherayil, B. J. (2011). The role of iron in the immune response to bacterial infection. Immunologic Research, 50(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12026-010-8199-1
Drakesmith, H., & Prentice, A. (2008). Viral infection and iron metabolism. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 6(7), 541–552. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro1930
By Fallon Cashell – A.R.T Practitioner