Recent recent research suggests a strong association between iron deficiency & hypothyroidism in pregnant women.
In a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology testing 1,900 women in a hospital in Brussels, Belgium, throughout the first three months of pregnancy, researchers found something interesting. About 35% of the women had low iron levels and among that group, around 20% had subclinical hypothyroidism and about 10% had high thyroid antibody levels, indicating immune system attacks on the thyroid (typically from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or Graves’ Disease).
In contrast, about 16% of women with normal iron levels had low thyroid function and about 6% had high thyroid antibody levels… Although these findings may suggest a significant correlation between iron deficiency and low hypothyroidism in pregnant females, it is difficult to identify which may be causing the other.
Indeed, having low iron levels could interfere with healthy thyroid function as it is a crucial mineral for its cell’s functions. Conversely, having hypothyroidism could lead to low iron stores in the body. Regardless, it would be too premature to jump to one conclusion over the other.
The lead researcher of the study Dr. Kris Poppe added: “Considering that our study took place in a relatively wealthy country, our results show that even in 2016, iron deficiency remains an important problem.”. Dr. Arem would agree and would emphasize the importance of foods high in iron such as dark leafy vegetables, beans, or seafood; among others… He would also suggest, if you have a hard time planning for your meals, to take an iron supplement to correct or prevent iron deficiency. This would be a more accurate and reliable way to ensure you are getting the necessary daily amount of iron your body and thyroid need to function properly.
HOWEVER, if you are taking a thyroid medication due to some form of hypothyroidism and are planning on taking an iron supplement, please be aware that iron interferes with thyroid hormone absorption if both are taken within four hours of one another. Therefore, make sure you are taking your iron supplement at least four hours after ingesting your thyroid medication to ensure optimal medication effectiveness.
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Prevalence of thyroid autoimmunity and dysfunction in women with iron deficiency during early pregnancy: is it altered?; Eur J Endocrinol. 2016 September; Veltri F, Decaillet S, Kleynen P, Grabczan L, Belhomme J, Rozenberg S, Pepersack T, Poppe K