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How you can be iron deficient while consuming iron
You’ve got iron issues……….
It’s a bit of a surprise, your diet is NOT perfect, but you do eat iron containing foods, such as meat. And you start your morning with a bowl of cereal, which according to the box, has 9 vitamins and minerals, including iron.
So what gives ?
Well the biology of iron is complicated.
First thing to know, is iron is a grocery……
Iron is precious
A rather precious one.
What makes it precious, is it’s relative scarcity.
But, the operative word, is relative. You do need to get a little bit of iron, from your food, primarily to top up, the little bit of iron, you lose, on a daily basis.
NOTE : A big bleed and having a baby, can up the need.
But the bulk of your iron needs, are met, by iron recycling.
So there is more to the iron story, than iron absorption, because………..
Iron is precocious
Too much iron in the blood, at any given point in time, is problematic.
The risk is part microbial, part metabolic.
So it is important, to put any iron arriving, away quickly and efficiently. The guy in charge of putting away the groceries, is insulin.
Insulin and iron
Now most of the time, when we talk about insulin’s exploits, we think glucose.
This is the job, insulin “fluff’s” up……….
Leading to glucose spikes and other metabolic troubles.
But insulin is also involved in preventing iron spikes. This is what a group of researchers from Austria recently uncovered.
Looking for iron
They asked healthy adults to do a glucose tolerance test – which amounts to downing a syrupy liquid, chock full of glucose, and then watching what happens, to sugar levels. Now what made their study, interesting, was in addition to keeping tabs on the usual sugar related parameters, they also kept tabs, on a couple of iron related parameters.
Here is what happened….
Downing the sugar, caused a spike in glucose and “insulin”. At the same time, sugar levels were rising, iron levels took a dive.
The driver for this decline, was hepcidin – it’s levels tracked the rise in glucose and “insulin”.
Beta cells pump out hepcidin
When the team probed a little further, they found that the hepcidin, doing the WORK, was not coming from the liver, it was coming from the pancreas.
And it was related to the amount of glucose.
The team concluded, when the pancreas spits out insulin, hepcidin comes along for the ride i.e. the two hormones are co-secreted.
The hepcidin-iron-insulin connection
Insulin doesn’t actually touch iron. Hepcidin handles the iron side of things – IN THE MOMENT !
It’s a smart move…….
After all, a bite of something, could bring a rush of iron, into the system, resulting in an iron spike, thanks to a momentary shortage of iron transporters / chaperones.
Now an iron spike, could tip the balance, leading to a SERIOUS problem.
The blast of hepcidin, tells “everyone” to HOLD ONTO their iron resources, until the situation returns to normal.
Well this is what should happen…………..
Hepcidin never stands down
Because insulin secretion, never ceases……
Remember when the pancreas spits out insulin, hepcidin comes along for the ride.
When hepcidin levels are high, morning, noon and night, this makes moving iron around the body, A LITTLE DIFFICULT. If the situation becomes bad enough, you can develop signs and symptoms of iron deficiency.
It could show up, as overt anamia or in other ways, e.g. early grey hair and restless leg syndrome.
To “fix” the iron “deficiency”
You don’t NEED MORE IRON ! You need, the iron you’ve got, to be recycled.
To do this, you need to rein in hepcidin.
The way rein in hepcidin, is to rein in insulin.
The biology of hepcidin
Hepcidin and insulin are NOT “joined” at the hip, several other things contribute to your hepcidin levels and iron status, but since insulin and hepcidin, are BIG BUDDIES.
If you’re insulin resistant, this is the place to start.
Download our free Willpower report, to discover 10 strategies you can use, to REIN IN INSULIN, and HEPCIDIN.
Iron accumulates inside the human body, especially the brain. Iron and oxygen don’t mix……. the combination leads to rusty parts and serious breakdowns.
When an iron pump in the pancreas runs full steam for too long, beta cells die and diabetes begins. Turning the pump down, is enough to stop diabetes.
If you’re suffering from metabolic syndrome – maybe it is time to let the iron out and bring down your blood pressure by giving a little blood.