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How does low iron affect Adrenal function?

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Old 04-29-2008, 06:21 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 60
TheAntiEndo HB User
How does low iron affect Adrenal function?

I was reading on one of those "Self Diagnosis" sites about Adrenal Insufficiency (AI), and one of the things the site mentioned was that a state of low iron anemia makes AI less likely.

Does that mean that a state of low iron can disrupt adrenal function in otherwise healthy adrenals?

Below are my latest Iron/Anemia labs:
  • Ferritin, Serum - 8 (25-335)
  • Iron - 66 (60-180)
  • Iron Binding - 400 (200-400)
  • Percent Saturation - 16.5% (14-55%)
  • RBC - 4.77 (4.60-6.10)
  • HGB - 13.4 (13.5-18.0)
  • HCT - 39.2 (41.0-53.0)
Would these numbers explain my Adrenal problems, (as listed in the following thread), or can you have seperate unrelated AI and low iron problems?

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Old 04-29-2008, 07:07 AM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: FL
Posts: 389
sparkles916 HB User
Re: How does low iron affect Adrenal function?

I can't answer your question for certain, I do recall reading that normocytic anemia can be a clinical sign of hypoadrenalism and other endocrine disorders

Endocrine disorders (eg, pituitary insufficiency, adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism) commonly produce a normochromic-normocytic anemia

So, as far as I understand normocytic/chromic anemia is characterized by below range Hgb and hematocrit, where the MCV (mean corpuscular volume) is within range.

So, what is your MCV?

My MCV is at the exact bottom of the range. and my ferritin is bottom range, but not below.

Below range would mean microcytic anemia.

Of course, I don't know if microcytic anemia excludes adrenal disease or not.
But I can say that the lit seems to indicate that normocytic anemia can point to it - although there are other causes of normocytic anemia as you will find on the web.

I don't know how the ferritin plays into this, and if it is below range, if a dr would determine that it is strictly a nutritional issue? Or if it could be concomitant with a normocytic anemia. Maybe you could research further and figure this out I have done all I can today with my half brain function

Hope this helps.

Last edited by sparkles916; 04-29-2008 at 07:10 AM.

Old 04-29-2008, 07:30 AM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 60
TheAntiEndo HB User
Re: How does low iron affect Adrenal function?

Here is the rest of my CBC & other Anemia labs:
  • WBC - 4.8 (4.0-11.0)
  • RBC - 4.77 (4.60-6.10)
  • HGB - 13.4 (13.5-18.0) - Low
  • HCT - 39.3 (41.0-53.0) - Low
  • MCV - 82.3 (80.0-98.0)
  • MCHC - 34.1 (32.0-36.0)
  • RDW - 14.4 (11.5-14.5)
  • PLT - 220 (130-400)
  • RBC Folate - 1150.1 (Ref: >160)
  • Vit B12 - 355 (Ref: >240)
  • Relative Retic - 1.85% (0.1-2.0%)
  • Absolute Retic - 88 (5-94)
MCV is getting pretty low, but still in the "normocytic" range.

As far as the cause of the low iron, I'm pretty sure it has to do with donating blood every 10 weeks for the last 6 1/2 years. I started taking iron suppliments last week, and will put the blood donations on hold indefinitely until I get my levels looking good again.

I'm just wondering if this self-inflicted stupidity has any effect on my Adrenal functioning, and if my ACTH vs Cortisol will improve as my iron levels normalize.

On the other hand, if Endocrin problems can cause anemia, maybe my adrenals were having problems first, and I had a greater disposition to developing an anemic state before the Red Cross took their first pint...

So, I guess the real question is which came first, and which needs to be corrected first?

Last edited by TheAntiEndo; 04-29-2008 at 07:40 AM.

Old 04-29-2008, 09:05 AM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: NJ
Posts: 438
rumpled HB User
Re: How does low iron affect Adrenal function?

Just food for thought... when I was testing for Cushing's, the good endo would check for low ferratin as a marker of that disease (as well as low vitamin D). So iron is effected, not sure how...

Now that I am addy (no adrenals), I still have low ferratin and low D and still struggle to get them up.
Never heard of the MCV thing... but I will look as mine as always on the low side...

I cannot give blood anymore as Cushing's gave me a platelet disorder.

Old 04-29-2008, 05:15 PM   #5
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: FL
Posts: 389
sparkles916 HB User
Re: How does low iron affect Adrenal function?

My MCV is between 80-82, I have low ferritin I have been trying to get up from around 16, but my Hgb was never below range.

I only know the basics about anemia from reading around on the web - articles etc - so, I can't say much more for certain. I would ask you if your practitioner has recommended a particular level of iron therapy for your anemia?

I did notice that your b12 is low. On this too I read around, as I was concerned with my low b12. My father and sister get b12 shots - not sure if they have pernicious anemia or not. However, I did find that the new consensus in the mainstream lit is that serious symptoms can occur at levels below 500. I think on the wellness circuit, one is urged to reach 800 or more.

I have been told by drs and also read in the lit that any excess b12 is excreted, so i don't think too much (within reason) is a danger. I take sublingual b12 - it got my levels up. There is a debate as to whether anything aside from an IM shot can actually penetrate the blood/brain barrier, but it seems to work for me.

I am not diagnosed as hypo adrenal, but have mainly seen useless endos and other gps who can't seem to solve the problem i have in tolerating thyroid meds, and don't see my low adrenal and other hormones as a problem..."if it is not "below range" you don't have a problem" know the script.

No matter what else may or may not wrong with you, take care of that anemia and your low b12. Best wishes.

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