Immune Health Means Making Sure Your Iron Stores are Health

We carry iron in our red blood cells, but that is not the deep reserve of iron, which are called our iron stores.

Iron regulates the distribution of oxygen. In red cells it’s carried as hemoglobin, in muscle cells it’s carried as myoglobulin.

Stored iron is found in virtually all tissues, not just the red blood cells, but particularly in liver, spleen, bone marrow and skeletal muscle. About 25% of the iron in your body is in storage for when you need more.

New information shows that ferritin, a marker of our iron stores, is a very important component of our health. It’s easily detected by a blood test, and for those struggling with medical issues that don’t seem to be getting solved, getting a check of ferritin could help be one part of the solution!

Ferritin levels have been linked to insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, and bone metabolism.

Too much iron is not healthy for our bones, our sexual health, and or livers.

So balance is the key, and it is healthy to lower those ferritin levels. Higher ferritin levels accelerate bone loss, leads to osteoporosis and osteoprotic fractures.

Feritin is actually a protein that is produced in situations like infection, immune dysfunction, and overall body inflammation.

It plays an important role in all diseases though the mechanism of inflammation.

Ferritin level abnormalities have also been associated with fatty liver disease

It’s often true that a particular medication is studied in what I would call ‘blinders fashion medicine’, meaning the medication is studied in a group of women with the condition, and only with that condition. Often medications that might interact are exclusions from the studies, and data bout overall health over time with medication use is not collected either. Sometimes this reveals untoward effects.

Ferritin levels are also related to medications that seemingly have nothing to do with oxygenation, or anemia! In one study looking at the role of the osteoporosis medicine risedronate we find that it causes ferritin to be lowered, and in fact this may explain why we see improved bone health, and improved overall health and also, surprisingly, lower cardiovascular disease in women taking the medication. In fact osteoporosis medicines lower all cause mortality for women through this mechanism.

Iron, as healthy as it is, in virtually all it’s forms, may in some cases be toxic as well. Check with your gyno to see if you need a test of your ferritin. 

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Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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