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How your gut health influences your iron levels

How your gut health influences your iron levels

The gut microbiota plays a significant role in iron metabolism. Iron is an essential mineral required for various physiological processes in the body, including oxygen transport, energy production, and DNA synthesis. However, iron homeostasis must be carefully regulated to prevent both deficiency and excess, as imbalances can lead to health problems.


The gut microbiota interacts with iron in several ways:

  • Iron Absorption: The gut microbiota can influence iron absorption in the intestines. Iron exists in two forms: heme iron (derived from animal sources) and non-heme iron (derived from plant-based sources). The gut microbiota can metabolize and degrade heme iron, releasing the iron for absorption. Additionally, certain bacteria produce substances called siderophores that can chelate and solubilize iron, making it more accessible for absorption.

  • Iron Sequestration: Some gut bacteria have mechanisms to sequester iron for their own use, depriving the host of this essential nutrient. This is a protective mechanism of the host against potential pathogens, as limiting iron availability can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.

  • Iron Recycling: Iron can be recycled within the body through a process called enterohepatic circulation. The gut microbiota participates in this process by metabolizing and converting iron from bile and red blood cell breakdown products into forms that can be reabsorbed by the host.

  • Inflammation and Iron Regulation: Inflammatory processes in the gut can influence iron metabolism. Inflammation can induce the production of hepcidin, a hormone that regulates iron homeostasis. Hepcidin reduces iron absorption in the intestines and inhibits iron release from storage sites. Alterations in the gut microbiota composition can affect the production of inflammatory signals and, consequently, hepcidin levels.


If you have been suffering from chronic low iron addressing looking at your gut health and micriboita can identify what is causing your iron dysregulation.    This involves:

  1. Testing: Our gut microbiome is as unique to us as our finger prints so testing if going to get the best results.  Testing your stool helps identify any inflammation in the gut, viruses and parasites.   It also provides a comprehensive breakdown of your good and not so good bacteria.  This form the basis of your treatment. 

  2. Probiotics and Prebiotics: Introducing beneficial bacteria into your gut through probiotic supplements can help optimize the gut microbiota composition.  The best choice will be based on your symptoms or testing results. 

  3. Dietary Modifications: Certain dietary modifications can support iron absorption and utilization. Include iron-rich foods in your diet, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, and leafy green vegetables. Combining these foods with sources of vitamin C can enhance iron absorption. On the other hand, it may be beneficial to limit consumption of substances that can inhibit iron absorption, such as tannins (found in tea and coffee) and phytates (found in whole grains and legumes).

  4. Antimicrobial treatment: If your iron deficiency is associated with an overgrowth of specific gut bacteria that interfere with iron absorption, antimicrobial to reduce the abundance of those bacteria and help balance the good gut bacterial. 


Overall, the gut microbiota plays a complex role in iron metabolism, influencing iron absorption, sequestration, recycling, and the regulation of iron-related hormones. The balance and composition of the gut microbiota are important for maintaining proper iron homeostasis in the body.

If you would like to know more about addressing your iron levels or gut health contact Elemental Health to discuss the best course of action for you.  

If you need support with your health and wellbeing  book an appointment with a naturopathat Elemental Health.  If you have any questions or would like to understand how we can help you with your health goals book a free Discovery call.   Alternately you can call our reception during business hours on (02) 8084 0081.




Posted on 14 June 2023
Author:Jean Jarrett
Tags:NutritionGut healthFood as medicine

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