A way to bring up serum iron without taking iron supplements?

Yes, it appears so…with lactoferrin. But first…

It is common for hypothyroid or Hashimoto’s patients to get low iron

Why? The most common reason is being on T4-only like Synthroid or Levothyroxine. The latter leaves most with lingering hypothyroidism, sooner or later. Thus, continued hypothyroidism lowers one’s stomach acid, and lowered stomach acid means you aren’t going to absorb nutrients well. So iron can fall, as can B12, Vitamin D and more.

The second most common reason is being underdosed on Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT) or T3 for a long period of time…usually due to a doctor who goes by the TSH or doesn’t understand how to get you optimal.

The third most common reason? Being undiagnosed for awhile, once again due to doctor’s clueless reliance on the lousy TSH lab test. The TSH can be “normal” for years before it rises high enough to reveal your thyroid problem.

But before I get into the topic of this post, please know that the vast majority of thyroid patients with inadequate levels of iron have successfully raised it with the right amount of iron supplements and for years! It’s all explained on the iron page.

How do I know if I have low iron?

It’s about four iron labs, NOT just ferritin–the latter which too many doctor rely upon solely, and is a mistake. You can have low ferritin and good or high iron due to a methylation problem! Those four iron labs are serum iron, % saturation, TIBC and ferritin. Yes, all four. Then you compare your results to this page: http://stopthethyroidmadness.com/lab-values

Your results have NOTHING to do with just falling anywhere in those ridiculous ranges. Compare to above link!! It’s serum iron you treat.

And if ferritin is high with lower serum iron, that means inflammation you’ll need to treat and get DOWN, otherwise taking iron will raise your high ferritin even more.

How I found out about a new way other than iron supplements

I do coaching calls. And one call in particular was impressive! This young man raised his serum iron from 77 to 130 without taking a single supplement of iron. How did he do it? With nothing more than lactoferrin. He was also taking astaxanthin, but I’ll explain later .

What is lactoferrin?

Lactoferrin is a protein, also called a “glycoprotein” because it has both a carb and a protein. Lactoferrin is primarily found in a mother’s breast milk at the beginning of nursing and it’s at quite high levels–seven times higher than it will be later, or in regular milk1. And what does lactoferrin do for infants who breast feed, as well as adults who use it as a supplement? It plays a fabulous role in enhancing your immune response, making it antibacterial, for one, plus anti-viral, anti-parasitic and even anti-fungal. Lactoferrin is also stated to be anti-cancer, and also known to promote bone health.

And for all of us, lactoferrin envelopes (binds) iron, constraining the iron from feeding a bacterial or viral infection, from feeding candida, from being too toxic in our bodies, or causing too high levels of free radicals! But there is evidence that it also helps raise low iron.

Some ask about the lactose in lactoferrin since it comes from a mother’s milk–it’s very very low.

So has research also shown that lactoferrin supplementation can raise iron levels?

Yes!

Here’s a 2006 study of 300 women, part taking lactoferrin and part taking just iron supplements, and the women taking lactoferrin saw a definite rise in their serum iron as did those taking supplements, but the former had even better results! It was 100 mg lactoferrin twice a day vs 520 mg once a day of ferrous sulfate. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16936810

And here’s a 2009 study showing that with one group using iron supplements and another group using lactoferrin…the outcome was the same–each had raised their iron status comparably! results! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19639462

In 2014, a study with pregnant women showed the same as above–that transferrin did the job in raising iron as much as iron supplementation and with fewer potential side effects. Transferrin also lowered inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24590680

And there are more studies which scientifically validate that power of lactoferrin to bring up iron from the iron content in foods you eat. Most studies show participants taking 100 mg twice a day, to equal a total of 200 mg.

How have we used lactoferrin before?

Stop the Thyroid Madness–the mothership of patient experiences and wisdom rather than empty strong opinion, has always mentioned using lactoferrin with your iron supplementation to envelope the iron and carry it around, besides protect you from the toxicity of iron. That is especially true if your liver isn’t making much transferrin as revealed by a lower TIBC–an indirect measure of your liver’s ability to make transferrin. Transferrin is in the same family of proteins as lactoferrin, thus lactoferrin supplements are ideal.

But now we have evidence that lactoferrin ALONE may do the trick. And guess what…there are even lactoferrin receptors in your body.

Will lactoferrin supplementation do the trick for everyone in raising low iron?

We don’t know yet. We need more patient feedback on their experience with it. But as mentioned above, there is evidence both in experience and research that is a bit exciting and interesting. And you probably need to take it while eating foods rich in iron, too.

Which lactoferrin should I get if I want to try raising my confirmed low iron?

Most brands seem to be fine; most lactoferrin supplementation is shown to be safe; they come from bovine sources. But I would choose a brand you have read about and/or trust.

There is a brand of lactoferrin by Life Extension that says it’s the apolactoferrin form, meaning iron depleted. Regular lactoferrin in most other brands do contain a little iron which is not depleted. I would personally go with other brands, not Life Extension, but that’s me.

What about the astaxanthin mentioned above?

If you have inflammation, iron will tend to go high into storage (aka ferritin), instead of supplying your serum iron levels. For women, you can suspect inflammation if your ferritin is nearing 100 or much higher, and for men, if you ferritin is going above the 130’s. With either men or women, your serum iron will be lower than it should be if ferritin is revealing inflammation!!

And it’s your serum iron levels you are supposed to be treating, NOT ferritin… unless you have inflammation! Thus, taking inflammation lowering supplements are important, as lowering inflammation is the only way to raise low serum iron! Astaxanthin2 is one (such as a minimum of 12 mg and possibly twice a day?), but so is curcumin twice a day (in higher doses than bottles say) or other anti-inflammatory supps of your choice.  Take the time to check out this page–we all have to be educated to get well: —-> http://stopthethyroidmadness.com/inflammation

Bottom line?

1. We now have science showing the efficacy in using lactoferrin to raise low serum iron levels, plus solid patient experience in doing so, as well.

2. Lactoferrin supplementation may prevent you from getting low iron in the first place.

3. If you are someone who has serious gastrointestinal issues with taking iron to correct low serum iron (not low ferritin–it’s about correcting low serum iron), this is a new possibility to explore. Even if you have no issues taking iron, the possibility that taking lactoferrin can raise iron is interesting, besides the fact that it also improves your immune function, is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungus, anti-parasites and anti-cancer! Wow!

4. If you have low serum iron with high ferritin, the latter points to inflammation. Important to get that inflammation down to help raise your serum iron, even if you use lactoferrin.

5. Studies above used 100 mg twice a day to equal 200 mg daily. If you have gained any experience with using JUST lactoferrin to raise iron, please let us know how long it took you, how much lactoferrin you used, and what your results were.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Footnotes:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactoferrin

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4454080/

 

 

 

This information about lactoferrin can be a supplement to your STTM books! Print and insert. Here they are: http://laughinggrapepublishing.com 

Important note: STTM is an information-only site based on what many patients worldwide have reported in their treatment and wisdom over the years. This is not to be taken as personal medical advice, nor to replace a relationship with your doctor. By reading this information-only website, you take full responsibility for what you choose to do with this website's information or outcomes. See the Disclaimer and Terms of Use.

32 Responses to “A way to bring up serum iron without taking iron supplements?”

  1. Lori

    Thank you Janie for all the great info on this site! I got caught up in the nature throid shortage in November 2018 and was forced to switch to Armour. I tried to have my doctor prescribe NP Acella but most pharmacies around here (Northeast Ohio) said they could not order this drug from the distributors they use and I was running out of medication fast so went ahead and picked up the Armour script my doctor had also called in. Armour felt so much stronger to me than nature throid and I was reading up on here what nature throid was doing to people in the last year or so (it was making me have heart palps and my TSH was starting to go up – the highest was 6). Anyway, Armour hit my system and I was ‘lit up’ and way too hyped up feeling. It wasn’t a good hyped up…..so I have been supporting my adrenals with dessicated adrenal from standard process from my chiropractor (can also be ordered on amazon) but needed to bump up my iron. Floradix liquid iron seems to work best for me so since I’ve been taking that at night and then my Armour in the morning I have been feeling fantastic! I can tolerate much higher amounts of armour and take my whole 2 grain dose and feel energetic and ready to go. Not that hyped up feeling that makes one irritable. Armour is sooo much more expensive (was paying $37 for a 90 day supply of naturethroid (w/ insurance) and now for armour it’s like $112 for a 90 day supply) but I am feeling better than ever lately so I guess it’s worth it…..maybe within these next three months while I am on armour I can find a pharmacy where I can get np acella. Thank you so much for all of your helpful information. You reminded me to take my iron and I know I need to take it long term but it’s helping already! Lori

    Reply
    • Janie Bowthorpe

      Glad you are doing better, Lori! 🙂 By the way, Acella asks that pharmacists call Acella so they can help them get NP Thyroid. It’s as if there is a way to bypass the distributor issue. Give this number to your pharmacist: 678.325.5189

      Reply
  2. Sheena

    Hello! How can it be possible that Lactoferrin is also used for removing extra iron from body? So could I simply use Lactoferrin and my body will adapt right mineral status? I’m also interested what’s relationship between iron, zinc and Copper?

    Reply
  3. Alissa Ulmer

    So, I have very high serum iron (I think it was just under 200) and very low ferritin (22 I believe). I noticed you memtythis type of issue as poor methylation, which makes sense because I am mthfr c677 homozygous. Is there something I should be doing to address the iron issue?

    Reply
  4. Alex

    Hi Chris, I have the same problems like you. Could you tell me please what a Betain HCL you was taking? There are so many Betain HCL on the internet… I don’t know what I shall buy. Thank you very much for answering in advance.

    Reply
  5. Kim

    Janie, I once was prescribed 60 mg NDT with 5 mg DHEA and adrenal herbs, I took it for 2 days and went off it caused severe fatigue, facial collagen loss, hair thinning. It’s taken me 3 years to get the tests I need and my practitioner is not optimizing my low zinc 78 (70-120) or and I was told my iron is low. Iron 78 TIBC 329 % sat 23.65 ferritin is 83 (8-252ng/mL). Do you think I should supplement with elemental iron? My RT3 is 19.5 up from 18.5 so I am getting worse now that I went off of BHRT because of hyperplasia. I have fatigue, body aches, and am 30% overweight at 157 lbs and 5’2″. I don’t eat much and try to eat clean and stay away from sugar as much as possible. Tested positive for Epstein Barr. I was going to supplement with iron and zinc but didn’t know if I should, I’m 59 and have family history of cancer. TSH 1.73 FT4 1.0 FT3 2.9 Glucose 86 and high cholesterol 294 but good triglyceride and LDL 212 HDL 63 I was prescribed 5 mcg T3 but wondering if I should take it without being optimal on the zinc and iron? I seem to go low on Vit D3 quickly from 105 in March to 36 recently, even with a vitamin daily..

    Reply
    • Janie Bowthorpe

      Compare you iron to what is on this page and you’ll see the truth: http://stopthethyroidmadness.com/lab-values

      Reply
      • Kim

        Janie, I am going to compare my levels. Do you think colostrum is a good thing to take? I should have said i had a bad influenza and double ear infection in 2007, then had a bad dinner eating out from a chinese buffet (!) so food toxicity. My ears never recovered from it, could not feel “popped” and I’ve since read it could be from menopausal sex hormone decrease, which is part of it because when on sex hormones my hearing almost went back to normal with a .375 estrodiol, 100 mg Progesterone, & 5 mg testosterone prescription. I think I also have chronic nerve damage from whatever influenza was happening that year, something most people do not know about, and doctors never tell you. Also, that bad sore throat I had was either mono from the Epstein Barr virus or reactivation of EBV. I was taking antibiotics at the time for the ear infection and never went to the doctor for the sore throat, I had lingering fatigue for months. So all of that was before going on the NP Thyroid, and the so called “hormone expert” never thought to test me for EBV! Just attributed my fatigue to Hashimotos! Is it true that any TG & TPO antibodies are an indication of Hashimoto’s? This said from a chiropractic neurologist. I have been on a journey for 10 years and worse now than when i began all from Doctors “help”.

        Reply
        • Janie Bowthorpe

          No, it’s not true that “any” antibodies are an indication of Hashi’s. Most people have some in the range–we all have residual antibodies. It’s when it’s over range that it’s a concern.

          Reply
        • Janie Bowthorpe

          Sorry, forgot to say that there are many reports of people who felt like the colostrum they take was helping them be sick far less. It would be more than one capsule, tho. Some get the powder.

          Reply
  6. James Bond

    Janie, which brand of lactoferrin actually contains iron? I’m afraid most of the supplements don’t state apolactoferrin explicitly but it is still what they are – stripped of the iron.
    Chris Masterjohn had the same concern in his podcast about iron.
    https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2017/01/27/need-manage-iron-status/

    Reply
  7. Sarah Lynn

    Hi Janie,

    I’m currently taking NDT and I seem to be optimal as my free T4 is mid-range and my free T3 is in the upper end. However, my TSH (I know this isn’t as important) fluctuates between a 2.5 and 5, with my last results being a TSH of a 4.2. Does this mean I need to increase my NDT, even though my Free T4 and Free T3 is good? Reverse T3 is a 12. All 4 iron labs are in the optimal range. I guess I just don’t understand why my TSH is being so stubborn. Thanks for your input!

    Reply
  8. Natalia

    Hi. Im hashimotos for 10 years. I feel every time muscular tired when I do some sport. It feels like my muscular tone not supports the contraction ( biking, skiing)for many time, and needs to stops to recuperate, but never I feel in better form, with training, just on contrary side, each time too tired. In june my analitics shoppwsws Tsh in 2.54, and I feel shake and low energy. My t4 are normal, in the first middel up. l thins perhapss the problem is the conveersion t4 /t3. One Month ago, a stop to eat gluten, and chage my
    Medication t4eutirox,125mg daily, changed to 100mg eutirox + and 25 mg t3 cynomel. My analitics in august shows tsh 0.01, t4 and t3 in second middle. But ferritine is 80, but iroon is down in low limit. Folic acid is down the low limits and B12 upper limit(550). With T3 perhaps I feel some better in my muscular feels less tired. Can be the problem folic down to have low iron with ferritine ok? Perhaps dont need take t3 and the probblem is the folic acid? Thanks. I’m taking bee pollen and enzimatics supports and green veggies to try up my folic acid. Thanks, from spain.

    Reply
    • Janie Bowthorpe

      Optimal will put your free T3 in the very top part of the range and free T4 mid-range. Both. It’s not about being in the middle of the range. Always compare your lab results to this page: http://stopthethyroidmadness.com/lab-values

      Iron is about serum iron being optimal. Use the above link, plus this: http://stopthethyroidmadness.com/iron

      Reply
      • Sarah

        Hi Janie,

        What if my Free T4 and free T3 are in the optimal range, but my TSH has been stubborn for over a year on NDT and fluctuates between a 2.5 -5…with my last TSH number being a 4.2? I know the TSH is not the number to go by, so should I stay on my current dosage because my Free T4 and Free T3 are optimal? Or am I under-dosed? My reverse T3 is always around a 10-12, and I did all 4 iron labs and they were in the optimal range. I have not yet tested cortisol. Thanks for your input…your website is invaluable!!

        Reply
        • Janie Bowthorpe

          Can you post your free T3 with range and your free T4 with range? You honestly don’t sound optimal, because when we truly are, the TSH will go way below range.

          Reply
          • Sarah

            Hi Janie,

            My Free T4 is a 1.2 (Range .8 to 1.8) and my Free T3 is 3.5 ( Range 2.3 to 4.2) I am currently on 3/4 grain of Nature Throid. I know that’s a lower dose. Do you suggest going up to a grain and repeating blood work? Thank you for your help!

          • Janie Bowthorpe

            Hi. You are definitely not quite optimal, so read this page and you’ll see what optimal is and how we move up (which isn’t by moving up by a grain): http://stopthethyroidmadness.com/natural-thyroid-101

  9. Kate

    I have chronic low ferritin and had several ferritin infusions. Recently I was told I couldn’t have another infusion because my phosphates were low (no idea why?) and that a ferritin infusion can make phosphate levels drop lower which is dangerous. I was searching for an alternative online and came across lots of recommendations for lactoferrin. I tried it and the first two days felt an improvement. I was very symptomatic with terrible weakness and shortness of breath prior to taking lactoferrin and after day two these symptoms increased a lot each day. By day 7 I had to stop as I could barely breath. I feel like it might have taken the ferritin (stores) to turn into iron which was the opposite to what I needed. I also started taking k2 at the same time which seems to be good. Back to the drawing board for me.

    Reply
    • Janie Bowthorpe

      Hi Kate. I am confused by your comment. Ferritin testing refers to seeing what we have in storage. Ferritin is actually a protein, so is it’s low, our storage levels are low. If it’s high, our storage levels are too high, meaning inflammation is driving our storage iron too high and needs treatment to lower the inflammation.

      Instead, we treat our “serum iron” if low, not the ferritin/storage iron. The latter will go up on its own as we raise our serum iron levels if too low. Are you perhaps using the word ferritin to mean your serum iron?

      Reply
  10. Janet

    I had severe anemia for many years because of a mutation in a gene that transports iron. I didn’t want iron infusions because of a death in my family from anaphylaxis after one. My doctors finally insisted on a transfusion and I contracted a virus from the donor (Parvo B19) that made the anemia even worse. I finally started taking Symbiotics lactoferrin. It’s more expensive than other brands but contains some iron. My hemoglobin and iron status improved more quickly than if I’d continued getting transfusion. I took 27 mg of Blue Bonnet brand iron bisglycinate along with it. Iron supplements had always made me sick, but I was fine with the two together. I tried other brands of lactoferrin and they don’t have the same effect when the iron is removed.

    Reply
  11. Laura Vida

    Could one use colostrum instead of lactoferrin?

    Reply
  12. Linda Lyngheim Skipper

    Eating a tiny sliver of organic chicken liver each day in ground turkey with veggies brought up my iron without supplements. You can’t even taste it, and it is natural. I am allergic to anything beef, meat or milk.

    Reply
    • Janie Bowthorpe

      That’s wonderful, Linda. A possibility for others. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

      But an FYI to anyone reading this: liver may not be enough for everyone to raise their iron levels to optimal, though, plus liver contains high amounts of copper, which could be a problem if someone has a methylation problem.

      Reply
  13. Irena Bolden

    Hello, I learned that I had hypothyroidism as I began experiencing menopause which has been over 20 years now….The biggest problem I have had is low or insufficient stomach acid to digest my food properly. I began using fermented tea or Kombucha, which do a good job in helping to move things along in the stomach. Now I an trying Essential Oils, I think this is the best treatment to alleviate things like indigestion, and insufficient digestion. There are medicines that may work. but it always come with so many side effects.

    Reply
    • chris

      Irena, I have hashis and low stomach acid. I added Betain HCL with meals, and was amazed that it fixed all my digestive issues. I had tried many other things including ACV, but they didn’t help. Kambucha is good for probies, but the underlying low stomach acid wasn’t corrected, and led to a whole domino effect in health, including low B12 and reduced bile formation to digest fats. I was so surprised that just fixing that one part, caused all the others to fall into place. I take NDT now and finally got my temp above 97F. Maybe worth a try with the HCL.

      Reply

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