I've had some chronic symptoms for several years that haven't been helped by dietary changes. Right now I'm eating a paleo/ray-peat style diet: grass-fed beef, beef liver, ground turkey, some seafood, eggs, grass-fed dairy, rice, fruit & veg, coconut oil, occasionally sugar if it's in tea or home-made GF-cookies.
I recently found a good doctor to work with and also a nutritionist whose looking over my blood work and making suggestions.
So here is the list of symptoms I brought to the doc:
- Chronic fatiuge and low energy - even after 10/11 hours of sleep
- Low libido/sex drive
- Face and hand/feet feel swollen sometimes
- Trouble falling asleep - insomnia
- Constipation, and bloating/stomach pain
- Dry eyes, sometimes they burn and are red
- Poor teeth, several (5-6) cavities coming in since last year. I've only had a few in my lifetime so far
- Poor skin - dry and bumpy (keratosis pilaris) *Also, I was diagnosed with Thalassemia Minor at birth (I've been told there are no symptoms though)
Besides basic blood work, he tested TSH, T3, FT4, Reverse T3, and Testosterone.
When I went back to review my results he said all my levels are within range and nothing looks abnormal. He still wants me to see an endo though b/c of my symptoms. Also, I'll need to review my results some more because I know "within range" does not mean optimal. While I was there he decided look at my iron levels. He sent my results in the mail this week and my ferritin level came back 17ng/mL with a reference range of 24-336ng/mL. So I need to go back next week. I'm guessing he'll ask me about my diet and recommend a supplement, which I'm open to taking...maybe it'll work. BUT, why would my iron levels be soo low on a paleo diet? I eat red meat, most of my food is organic, and I never limit calories.
Any thoughts on what could be causing low ferritin level?
**Thyroid and Testosterone Results
T3 - 1.54 ng/mL (Reference Range) 0.87-1.78
TSH - 1.71 uIU/mL (Reference Range) 0.35-5.50
FT4 - 0.86 ng/dL (Reference Range) 0.58-1.60
Reverse T3 - 26.8 ng/dL (Reference Range) 13.5-34.2
Triiodothyronine - 4.2 pg/mL (Reference Range) 2.0-4.4
Testosterone, Serum - 546 ng/d (Reference Range) 348-1197
Free Testosterone - 10.8 pg/mL (Reference Range) 9.3-26.5
TOTAL IRON BINDING CAPACITY
FE 92 ug/dL (Reference Range) 40-160
TRFN 273 mg/dL (Reference Range) 180-382
TIBC 382 ug/dL (Reference Range) 250-400
FESAT 24 % (Reference Range) 20-40
asked byKyev (153)
Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!
on April 16, 2012
at 12:39 AM
My boyfriend is right around your age, and was experiencing similar symptoms to yourself- fatigue, skin problems, low libido, and dry eyes. We finally got him tested for celiac, and he tested positive. After working with a GI doctor, it was determined that he currently has enough gut damage to inhibit the absorption of many vitamins and minerals. With the paleo/primal diet he currently has, he is working his way towards healing the damage done from years of eating gluten. In the meantime, he and his doctor are experimenting with supplementing and monitoring his response (hit or miss, with the absorption being the problem). He is currently eating liver once a week, oysters twice a week, red meat every day (or every other day), and he has been supplementing iron for one month just to get on top of the deficiency. We are also avoiding major allergens for him (nuts, dairy, tomato, citrus, soy), have been VERY VERY careful about gluten contamination, and have slowly increased the fermented food in his diet. With this healing process, he will hopefully be able to absorb everything again in the future. The GI doc gave us a ball-park of 1-2 years to recover from the damage that celiac has done on his gut.
I would ask for a test for celiac, and it sounds like you found a good doc, so they can guide you based on the results and any possible gut damage you may have incurred.
on April 16, 2012
at 01:16 AM
You might ask your doc about connective tissue disorders. Those aren't necessarily symptoms, but many of my friends with CTDs have those symptoms also. My anemia was cured by removing my uterus, but that's not your problem! I had a ferritin of less than 1 at my lowest.! I really couldn't tolerate iron supplements (they can cause wretched constipation).
I am also fond of recommending NAET. It really helps with allergies and especially with weird things that maybe western medicine doesn't consider or know. www.naet.com
Also, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is all about healing the gut. Probiotics might be good for you.
on April 18, 2012
at 10:07 PM
I went to the doctor today and he prescribed me iron and folic acid(1mg/day). I couldn't read his notes on how much iron to take, but I will go with whatever is recommended on the label. I was thinking of going with the Floradix brand of iron b/c it seems to have good reviews. Is anyone else familiar with it? And as for the folic acid, somehow I'm remembering not good things about it, maybe from Chris Kresser? I'll have to do some research on it.
I also asked my doctor if he could test thyroid antibodies and ANA for autoimmune disease, which he was very willing to do. I'll probably get those results next week.
And lastly, he referred me to a hematologist because he thinks my Thalassemia minor might be causing low iron, even though traditionally no treatment is necessary.
on May 20, 2012
at 08:54 PM
Eat more sugar. Hypothyroid gone.
on May 20, 2012
at 08:00 PM
Hi, just wanted to warn you, though hopefully your doctors already have, that if you have thalasemia minor you are cannot take iron supplements because you can get iron toxicity due to your altered hemoglobin.(runs in my family) Please talk with your doctor about this. Take care, hope you get feeling better. My daughters going thru alot of similar things and its frustrating isn't it.
on April 19, 2012
at 12:27 AM
this may be way out of my league but it kind of sounds like your physician is taking a stab at the dark by prescribing iron and folic acid. you do that in a SPECIFIC case...megaloblastic anemia. as for iron deficiency, it is pretty hard to be iron deficient unless you are losing blood from internal bleeding or especially as a female, through your period.
you have beta thalassemia...so it is to be expected that you have lower hemoglobin, hematocrit, rbc values. any thalassemia patient is going to look like they are anemic...some more than others. but anemia does not equal iron deficiency. you could be low in rbcs from a production standpoint or from a losing too much standpoint.
but it's pretty obvious in your case that your blood looks the way it does because you have thalassemia. it's a qualitative issue not quantitative. i'd be pretty careful about iron supp...hemachromatosis is serious and way worse than mild anemia.
my hematology profs are pretty annoyed that when doctors see anemia, they automatically prescribe iron and folic acid. in your case, it's even more of a head scratcher since you have already been diagnosed with thalassemia...
sorry to play devil's advocate. that's what came to my mind when i read this. as for how i would treat you...sheesh, they haven't taught us that yet. maybe third year on the wards!
on April 16, 2012
at 03:51 AM
Excess consumption of some foods make iron absorption difficult in the body. How much dairy are you consuming? How much tea? What vegetables do you normally eat?
I'm not an expert or anything and I second the other suggestions here to explore the possibility of other causes through other tests.