Do you suffer from an iron deficiency, and are taking the regular prescribed high dose iron from your GP, which is most likely making you constipated?
Then you need to read the below!
Hepcidin is an enzyme released by the liver which was initially thought to have antimicrobial properties. In addition to this, hepcidin regulates ferroportin, an iron transporter that exports elemental iron from cells, and is essential for the distribution of iron between tissues.
Hepcidin regulates the entry of iron into plasma, and increased levels of iron increase hepcidin production; regulating the degradation and inernalisation of ferroportin.
In lamens terms, increased hepcidin concentration reduces iron absorption and transfer into tissues.
Therefore, when taking an iron supplement, it is important to take it in the morning, and not every day; that way the more iron is absorbed, without Hepcidin blocking it's bioavailability.
IRON DEFICIENCY AND YOUR GP'S RANGES:
Typically, Ferritin (storage form of iron and most sensitive to assess iron deficiency) reference ranged for a GP is anywhere from 30-300 or 30-200 ng/mL, whereas functional pathology references ranges are much more specific.
Generally GP references ranges are much larger to allow for the vast majority of the population.
However, why would you want to me 'normal', or 'the same as the majority?' Don't you want to be OPTIMAL?!
Functional Ferritin ranges are 90-250 ng/mL.
I see clients EVERY DAY where their Ferritin levels are 30 or just over, and the doctors send them on their merry way telling them everything is ok.
THIS IS NOT THE CASE.
In my eyes, that is a clear iron deficiency, and can often be paired with smaller red blood cells; which most certainly is not ideal for one's optimal health.
SIGNS OF AN IRON DEFICIENCY:
An iron deficiency can result in symptoms such as fatigue, brittle nails, breathing difficulties, a sensitivity to the cold, constipation, poor cognitive function, digestive disturbances, dizziness, headaches, mitochondrial DNA damage, poor appetite, poor immune system function, spoon shaped distortion of the fingernails, general weakness, as well as pale sclera, pale palms and pale gums/ inside your lips.
IRON, HEPCIDIN, INFECTIONS AND INFLAMMATION.
The release of Hepcidin is also increased by higher concentrations of pro-inflammatory metaboliytes and cytokines; acting as a guard to reduce pathogenic microorganisms taking the iron out of cells. If pathogenic infection is present, some pathogens have evolved to have the ability to extract iron from heme by lysing erythrocytes (red blood cells). However if infection is present, neutrophils and macrophages also have the ability to synthesize hepcidin, which reduces the availability of free plasma iron. In the presence of TNFa, IL-1, IL-6 and INFy further strengthen iron withholding defenses.
As the body’s defense mechanism against pathogenic microorganisms, excess iron is bound to transferrin (which is a transporter protein that carries iron around the body) as well as other plasma molecules such as amino acids, citrate and albumin. With a reduced concentration of free plasma iron, the pathogen(s) have a reduced ability to sequest iron from the host.
So why alter/cease iron supplementation, and what do we do if infection is present?
Excess iron, and free iron throughout the body (resulting from high dose supplementation) not only increases oxidative stress (and increased free radicals in the body) and causes high amounts of constipation, but also acts as fuel to enhance pathogenic growth and colonisation.
Iron supplementation in the immuno-compromised results in higher rates of infections. Although there is little clinical evidence, iron supplementation should cease when signs of pathogenic infection is present, such as diarrhoea, stomach upset, fatigue, body tenderness, fever, or infection of any body system.
Cessation of supplementation during bouts of infection will not significantly reduce stores in a small amount of time; and stores can be repleted as soon as the infection has subsided; thus supplementation may restart as soon as infection has subsided and fever is no longer present.
Long term chronic infections that take longer to subside would need to be monitored concurrently with the clients Doctor, and ongoing iron studies should be performed to ensure they do not get dangerously low.
If you're concerned about your iron levels, I urge you to get in contact with a functional practitioner as soon as possible.
Even more so if you're wanting to conceive as it is essential your iron stores ( as well as other vitamin and mineral stores) are at their optimal level as soon as possible.
Gluten, just about the most well known word in the health and wellness industry right now. It’s feared, but often people have no idea why, or the repercussions it can have not only on your digestive health, but also the overall functioning of your body.
Well, I am here to break it down for you!
Gluten, is the main storage protein in the grain wheat. Some proteins found in gluten are called gliadin and glutenin. Gluten is also found in barley and rye; however the protein in oats, called ‘Avenin’ does not contain gluten or gliadin – due to cross contamination in manufacturing, oats can become ‘contaminated’ with gluten and its proteins; therefore correct manufacturing processes must be performed to eliminate any cross contamination. You are able to purchase gluten free oats, just be sure that it is clearly displayed on the label.
Gluten is a highly digestion-resistant grain, therefore it can travel to the small intestine in whole particles, causing inflammation, pain, bloating, poor memory and concentration, and in some cases diarrhoea or constipation. In Coeliac disease, gluten consumption triggers the immune system to attack it’s own tissues – the microvilli of the small intestine. This causes severe nutrient depletion, due to the destruction and loss of surface area, resulting in impaired nutrient assimilation and absorption.
Unfortunately, whether you’re Coeliac, gluten intolerant or not, due to gluten’s ability to resist the power of our digestive enzymes to break it down, resulting in inflammation in our gut, it can also result in a term known as ‘Leaky Gut’.
In our gut, we have something known as tight gap junctions; these junctions serve as a barrier that enables the integrity of our gut to be strong, preventing food particles, bacteria and toxins from travelling into our bloodstream wreaking havoc. However, when gluten is consumed, it causes these tight gap junctions to become permeable, reducing the integrity of our gut, allowing said bacteria, pathogens, toxins and food particles to flow into our circulation, evening reaching up into the blood supply to our brain.
Ever experienced brain fog after eating? There’s a good chance you may have some underlying permeability in your small intestine.
Now why is this important in regards to the functioning of our immune system?
Well, if you think about it, our gut is the one part of our internal body that comes into contact with the outside world; so it makes sense that our immune system needs to be present there to help fight off invading pathogens. However, when there’s intestinal permeability (aka Leaky Gut), this can result in our immune system to be less concentrated in our guts, and causes our white blood cells to travel elsewhere in the body where these floating bacteria, toxins and food particles may be. As a result, this can not only cause our immune system to be depleted and unable to fight off pathogens that do find their way into our body via our gut, but also can cause create Dysbiosis in the body.
Dysbiosis is simply an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in our gut. This basically allows the bad bacteria to flourish, increases inflammation and systemic stress in the body, and allows the kill off of our healthy, disease fighting bacteria. If this is the case, it allows pathogenic bacteria to adhere to the lining of our gastrointestinal cells, resulting in infection and illness. Furthermore, this inflammation and immune dysfunction can also give rise to conditions such as auto-immune disease; where (like in Coeliac Disease) the body attacks it’s own tissues, unable to decipher self from non-self.
To prevent this from happening, we need to ensure we’re supporting the integrity of our gastrointestinal cells, reducing inflammation, providing antioxidant support, have a wide array of healthy bacteria in our gut, and ensure we’re providing prebiotic rich foods as a food source for our beneficial bacteria to feed on and flourish. Some essential nutrients to help our gut to heal include collagen, glutamine, gelatin, vitamin C and vitamin A.
If you’re concerned about your gastrointestinal health, are wondering about food intolerances or allergies, or are interested in using herbal and nutritional medicine to help your immune system, gut health or anything else in your body, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me. I offer complimentary 15 minute consultations face to face or over the phone if you’re interested in an initial chat. If you’re ready to jump straight into consultation, bookings can be made with me online here or by calling me on 0427 375 986.
Vis Medicatrix Naturae – The Healing Power of Mother Nature.
SO...you're thinking of trying to conceive?
You've probably been told by someone that you need to take at least a Folate supplement at the very minimum for pre-conception care. Well they'd be right, but there's also many other vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are of utter importance in the health of both mother and baby when it comes to pre-conception and pregnancy care.
Before we get into it, if you're thinking of trying for a baby, or perhaps you've just come off the oral contraceptive pill or other forms of contraception, and are looking at what you need to do next for preconception care - please book a Nutritional or Naturopathic appointment with me prior to just going to Chemist Warehouse and choosing any off-the-shelf pre-conception supplement - NEWS FLASH - they're oftne not high enough in the nutrient you're requiring, or they're in a poorly absorbable form - NOT WHAT YOU WANT!
Now, lets get into it.
Folate (also known as Vitamin B9) is an essential nutrient required for DNA replication, growth and the development of the fetus and the formation of the neural tube.
Deficiencies are associated with congenital abnormailities such as orofacial clefts, Anencephaly & Spina Bifida.
FORMS OF FOLATE:
Folate is the form of folate naturally found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, eggs, legumes, liver and citrus fruits.
Folic Acid is the synthetic form of folate, that's often in fortified foods or supplements.
*NEITHER of these forms of folate are metabolically active, meaning that they must go through processing in the body, to be able to actually have an action.
Both of these forms of folate need to be metabolized in the body by a process called Methylation; the end result of which is the most active form of folate: 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).
In this process of methylation, we require enzymes to change folate or folic acid into THF; the enyzyme Methylenetetrahydrofolate-Reductase is the enzyme that allows this process to happen.
It's quite common for this process not to be able to occur in many individuals, due to genetic polymorphisms in the MTHFR genotype. This ultimately results in the inability to convert INACTIVE Folate to ACTIVE Folate (5-MTHF).
However, this entire process occurs in the digestive system, before moving onto the liver, and out into the bloodstream. Not only is this conversion of inactive to active folate a very slow process, if the health and function of the digestive system and the liver aren't working (let alone Genetic polymorphysms in MTHFR genes) at their best capacity, this process is slowed down even further.
Ultimately, the result is reduced levels of active folate; which can actually worsens when high doses of inactive folate is prescribed.
If a MTHFR dysfunction is prevalent, the treatment is usually folic acid; however this completely defeats the purpose as it's not able to be metabolized into its active form - only to result in an excess of inactive folate sitting in the blood stream rendered completely useless, and even potentially able to cause immune dysfunction amongst other health concerns!
So how do we combat this?
Well, considering the above discussion, as well as recent research, it just makes sense to only take the active form of folate, 5-MTHF. It's the most bio-available (meaning it will be the best absorbed and utilized by the body), avoids any genetic defects in the MTHFR gene, and prevents any detrimental health defects resulting from a build up of in-active folate in the body.
If you're thinking of trying to conceive, a minimum of 3 months pre-conception care for the female, and minimum of 4 months for the male should be implemented.
Please contact me for any questions in regards to folate supplementation, pregnancy or pre-conception care for both males and females.
The Natural Nutritionist - Sandringham, Melbourne.
Ph: 0407 736 463
BRIGHT, NORTH EAST VIC BOOKINGS:
Bright Allied Health, Bright, Victoria.
Ph: (03) 5750 1965
Naturopath, Nutritionist & Yoga Teacher
BHSc Naturopathy, Advn Dip Nutritional Medicine, RYT200