August 7, 2016
Iron Toxicity Post #41: Anemia of Inflammation and how it relates to anemia
In my ever-continuing efforts to get folks from the entire world over to restore and protect their magnesium (Mg) status, I’ve taken a most unexpected and extended journey into and through the wacky, Byzantine of the most revealing world of iron research. Fortunately, this detour has enabled us to better understand why we are all so compromised on our Mg status, and consequently on our health.

Now mind you, today’s post is not what I had drafted yesterday. I had assembled a set of “killer” research studies, had excerpts highlighted, had the entire post written and then lost the internet connection at the hotel where I was receiving some training in essential oils. Are you kidding me! (I took the set back in stride as I figured that there was something “missing” in my message)

And indeed there was!

I’ve decided to honor Einstein, once again, and seek to simplify this “You ain’t iron anemic!” message, once more.

Think of this as remedial ironology 101.

First some of the key fundamentals:

  • Definition of anaemia, which is from Greek: “an” meaning without and “haima” meaning blood.  This was adopted in the early 19th century from modern latin as a condition marked by a deficiency of red blood cells or of haemoglobin in the blood, resulting in pallor and weariness.
  • Unbound (free) iron has the unique ability to bring about 3 critical and damaging developments within the cells:
    1. Iron lowers pH and forces the cell to an acidic pH.
    2. Despite hemoglobin’s known role to deliver oxygen, unbound free iron lowers oxygen in the cell (low pH = low oxygen; it’s a basic chemical and physiological property on this planet, but know that optimal oxygen is at pH = 7.4, not at the other end!)
    3. Iron uncouples oxidative phosphorylation and lowers the production of ATP inside the mitochondria (one study that I read indicated that it was as much as a 96% loss of ATP!) 
  • Ferritin is not an indication of haemoglobin status and therefore is not even close to being an accurate assessment of oxygen-transport status, which is actually hemoglobin’s job.  Ferritin is an iron storage protein, not active indicators of iron neither embolism nor iron physiology. A ferritin only test is a faulty and misleading indication of iron status! (Douglas Kell PhD’s article “Iron behaving badly” in 2009 has put the exclamation point on that issue.)
  • It has been a well-known fact, since the 1860’s that iron anemia is a clinical indication of copper deficiency.  We refer copper deficiency as low bioavailable copper which has a role in the creation of:
  • Erythropoietin (EPO) in the adrenals (a hormone to signal for new red blood cells in the bone marrow)
  • The production of heme 
  • The insertion of iron into heme
  • The creation of haemoglobin (a ring of 4 heme proteins)
  • The proper use and impact of heme oxygenase 1 to recycle iron

Again, all of the above depends on bioavailable copper.

  • Low ferritin is a definitive sign of low bioavailable iron, thus iron dysregulation and not iron deficiency.
  • Ferritin comes in two types of chains, ferritin-heavy, which is very dependent on ceruloplasmin activity and ferritin-light, which lacks ceruloplasmin activity.

This brings about the question why does practitioners all over the world administer iron, given that it will only cause the oxygen levels to drop even further.  The fact that excess, unbound iron lowers pH and not one single word is ever mentioned about copper status or ceruloplasmin status or the status of B-vitamins that are very much a part of the iron metabolism.

I invite you to read a wonderfully written & researched article by Ray Peat, PhD, entitled “Iron’s Dangers”:

Those that have followed me for any length of time know that I have an intense love/hate relationship with this gifted, enigmatic nutritionist. This would be one of my favorite posts that he’s written and possibly because he, too, is sounding this iron alarm. One of my favorite lines from this article:

”Iron deficiency anemia does exist, in laboratory situations and in some cases of chronic bleeding, but I believe it should be the last-suspected cause of anemia, instead of the first.”

I also will highlight his summary:

Iron is a potentially toxic heavy metal; excess can cause cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. 

Other heavy metals, including lead and aluminium, are toxic; pans and dishes should be chosen carefully. 

Iron causes cell aging. [This is important]

Drinking coffee with iron rich foods can reduce iron’s toxic effects. 

Use shrimp and oysters, etc., to prevent the copper deficiency, which leads to excess storage of iron. 

Avoid food supplements, which contain iron.

Take about 100 units of vitamin E daily; your vitamin E requirement increases with your iron consumption.”

I am not buying the you are anemic façade so what do I think all of these very low ferritin’s, low serum iron’s and low % saturation’s is really all about?

All signs and research are pointing toward Anemia of Inflammation (AI), which I will delve into with rigor and compelling studies to put this ferritin-driven-anemia to rest.

All is not as it seems, but it’s getting clearer and clearer.

A votre sante!


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