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Anemic, Low Ferritin, Can't Take Supplements

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Old 12-11-2012, 11:23 AM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2012
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HolyHairLoss HB User
Unhappy Anemic, Low Ferritin, Can't Take Supplements

Hi all.

I don't know what to do anymore.

I am quite anemic, my recent lab results show my ferritin is still low (34), and I have tried various iron supplements - including Floradix - and ALL of them give me painful constipation that makes me cry, it gets so bad.

I have seen a hematologist but he wasn't that invested in helping, because he was more interested in if I have a blood disorder (I don't). So he said, "Don't worry about it"...

I have very heavy menstrual bleeding, and it's gotten worse over the past year. I am also losing a lot of hair.

I have had my thyroid checked and came back subclinical hypothyroid (3.9 TSH) and was put on naturally dessicated meds (NatureThroid) but it's causing me MORE hair loss and heavier menstruations.

Still, I just want to know how to raise my ferritin naturally. I have tried to eat red meat 2x/week and my ferritin went up 1 measely point after 4 months.


Last edited by HolyHairLoss; 12-11-2012 at 11:24 AM.

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Old 12-12-2012, 10:26 AM   #2
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Re: Anemic, Low Ferritin, Can't Take Supplements

Did you give the Nature-throid a fair chance? It doesn't work immediately. The hormone has to build up in your system. Few people experience a turn around in symptoms and thyroid levels until at least 6 months after starting treatment. If you did give it a 6 month trial at a therapeutic dose [not just a small starter dose], it's possible a different brand might work better. I have much better success with the new NP thyroid by Acella. The reformulated NT and Armour brands no longer work for me at all. All brands aren't equal for all patients. It's worth a brand switch to find a better one.

It also needs to be dosed in the right amount. If you were started on a very small dose and wasn't increased at regular intervals, it can indeed cause worsening of symptoms or even the onset of new ones until your levels are optimized.

Or... If your MD treats according to TSH only and ignores the T4/T3 levels, it's possible you weren't prescribed enough NT to do the job. Natural thyroid can't be dosed according to TSH.

Hypothyroidism is a very common cause of heavy periods. Optimally treating it so that bleeding normalizes will in turn help the anemia. Hypothyroidism can cause anemia and vice versa. Fixing either one can improve the other.

JMO... but unless you repair your ailing thyroid levels, dietary changes alone probably won't help. If you still want to try, the best food sources of iron include these. Although grains and vegetables are included, the iron in those is harder to absorb than that from animal sources.
Dried beans
Dried fruits
Eggs (especially egg yolks)
Iron-fortified cereals
Lean red meat (especially beef)
Poultry, dark red meat and giblets
Whole grains

Iron infusion treatments or injections are a last-ditch option, too.

Old 12-12-2012, 06:57 PM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2012
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HolyHairLoss HB User
Re: Anemic, Low Ferritin, Can't Take Supplements

I've been on NatureThroid 6 weeks at 1/4 grain. It gives me heart palpitations and I already have tachycardia, so it scares me. My menstruation came 10 days early the first month on NT and I've had 3 cycles on it thus far, coming in earlier and earlier each time so it's 2.5 weeks apart instead of almost 4. The bleeding is ridiculous, too, I can't leave the house for 3 days per's that bad.

I also was recently diagnosed with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and I'm being treated for it with a specific food regimen and antibiotics. The foods I cannot eat are beans, nuts, eggs, grains, red meat...well, a lot of high iron foods that also are considered high residue (stay in your system longer), which feeds the bacteria in my system. Regardless, SIBO prevents absorption of nutrients so it'd be a losing battle - and has been - to supplement my iron with food right now. I was considering buying Hema-Plex tomorrow but only if it doesn't cause constipation, as I already have intestinal issues.

I was considering switching meds for thyroid to Acella but have now read nightmare stories on hair loss on that, too. Others have had success on Armour, but some not. I don't know which would be my best option...

In case it helps, here are my pre-NT and post-NT lab results:

**Pre-meds: TSH 3.90 (0.4-4.50); Free T3 2.6 (2.3-4.2), Free T4 1.0 (0.8-1.8), Reverse T3 30 (11-32). Ferritin: 33

**Post-meds (same ranges): TSH 2.90; Free T3 3.0; Free T4 1.1; Reverse T3 24. Ferritin: 34

I just want to feel normal again - and look normal!

Last edited by HolyHairLoss; 12-12-2012 at 07:09 PM.

Old 12-13-2012, 10:42 AM   #4
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Re: Anemic, Low Ferritin, Can't Take Supplements

Not an easy situation.

Either or both your hypothyroidism and your anemia can cause the palpatations. If you're young and otherwise healthy, they won't hurt anything. And yes, they might get worse temporarily while you adjust and titrate to a therapeutic dose of thyroid hormone. They don't indicate you shouldn't do it. It takes patience to get through the process, but nothing will improve if you do nothing.

One-quarter grain is a 'non-dose' that cannot be expected to change anything at all. That small amount should only be a very cautious starter dose. It must be increased in small increments every 4-6 weeks.

The hair loss that any thyroid hormone can cause at the beginning of treatment is almost always temporary and will stop once blood levels of T4/T3 improve. Those "nightmare" accounts you find on message boards are anecdotal and usually written by those who are just starting treatment. In the unusual event that the hair loss doesn't stop within 6 months or so, switching to another brand of med should solve the problem.

As for the period disruption, that too is temporary. The onset of treatment causes hormone "flux" for a little while, which can create new symptoms and/or the worsening of old ones. Doctors don't tell their thyroid patients any of this; it's something we learned the hard way and share on thyroid forums like this one. It takes a patient patient to get through the tough beginning days.

Your dietary needs seem way too complicated to consider that route to improve your anemia. Makes it even more important to get the hypoT under control.

ETA: I forgot to mention... If you eventually find that you can't tolerate natural thyroid hormone because of the T3 it contains, perhaps a T4 med like Synthroid or Levoxyl will work much better. T3 isn't for everyone. Besides, the majority take T4 only and do just fine with it.

Last edited by midwest1; 12-13-2012 at 10:44 AM.

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