The other side of an iron problem: Hemochromatosis
Many thyroid patients find themselves with too low levels of iron. And that alone can cause issues with trying to raise Natural Desiccated Thyroid. i.e. the T3 will raise high in the blood without getting to your cells well, causing hyper-like symptoms. Read the NDT doesnt work for me page to understand this issue.
But a small percentage of patients might find themselves with the opposite problem—very high levels of iron. And one main reason is called Hemochromatosis, a genetic issue which can cause iron overload.
Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder, said to occur mostly in Caucasians. You might have no symptoms, or you can signs such as darkening of your skin, fatigue, liver and heart issues, and/or joint pain. And this abnormal accumulation of iron can be very dangerous if not discovered, lowered and kept in check. It will usually over-accumulate in your joints, heart, liver, pituitary…and in men, the testicles.
Genes involved in having the Hemochromatosis mutation are C282Y and H63D, with the former being the most common. From http://www.medicinenet.com/iron_overload/page3.htm:
A C282Y homozygote is a person who has inherited one mutated C282Y gene from each parent. A C282Y homozygote is considered at risk of developing iron overload. In fact, C282Y homozygotes account for 95% of all hereditary hemochromatosis. Conversely, not every C282Y homozygote develops iron overload. Studies have shown that an estimated 50% of C282Y homozygotes may not develop iron overload or its complications.
A C282Y/H63D compound heterozygote is a person who has inherited one mutated C282Y gene from one parent and a second mutated H63D gene from the other parent. Most compound heterozygotes have normal iron levels though some can develop mild to moderate iron overload.
A C282Y heterozygote is a person who has inherited one mutated C282Y gene from one parent but a second normal HFE gene from the other parent. Children born of two C282Y heterozygotes have a 25% chance of being a C282Y homozygote and, therefore, will be at risk of developing hemochromatosis. A C282Y heterozygote does not develop iron overload.
Some individuals could go decades without even knowing you have this problem, making it all the more dangerous. It could lead to liver cirrhosis and an increased risk of developing cancer in your liver.
Testing which reveals it are high levels of percent saturation, serum iron and ferritin–all together. For a more definitive diagnosis, a doctor may order a biopsy of your liver i.e. the removal of tissue which will be tested.
Treatment is often simply giving blood, called phlebotomy, and can occur every few months to keep your iron levels under control. Patients are often told to avoid Vitamin C, since it increases iron absorption.
***This is also why it’s recommended on the iron page to never go longer than 4 weeks without retesting your iron levels…just in case you have this disorder and your send your iron levels too high!
Also note that having an MTHFR defect can cause iron to go too high.