Low Iron and Constipation

By Dr. Julia Lizy, MBBS (KEMU)

Low iron and constipation

Iron is an important bio-element. It forms important structures in our body, including hemoglobin. It also plays a pivotal role in vital body functions. A slight fall or rise in its concentration can cause serious symptoms.

Our body keeps iron in narrow ranges. The body regulates the amount of iron in our bodies through absorption, not excretion.

Low Iron and Constipation

When Iron Levels are Low

guy thinking low iron constipation
  1. When iron levels are low, the body does its best to absorb more iron through the intestines.

  2. Conversely, when the level of iron is high, the body slows down how much iron it absorbs.

This is different from how the body regulates other minerals. For instance, magnesium levels are controlled by excretion. If the body gets too much, the kidneys simply excrete it through the urine.

Because the body regulates iron levels by speeding up or slowing down absorption, the amount of iron in the body directly affects the gastrointestinal system.

  • When there is an excess of iron in the body, the body increases peristalsis for rapid bowel movements to expel the stool earlier.

  • Conversely, when one is deficient in iron, the body works to increase absorption. It slows down peristalsis, which means that bowel movements are restricted so that the stool is expelled much more slowly, resulting in constipation.

Thus, a person suffering from iron deficiency is prone to constipation. When the iron level is low or the quality of hemoglobin in red blood corpuscles is low, the body works harder to make the necessary changes in order to increase absorption. In such a case, constipation is inevitable.

The Way to Resolve Iron Deficiency

Whenever a disorder or imbalance occurs in the body, as happens with low iron and constipation, we have to find a way to treat the imbalance while dealing with each of the objectives in managing the deficiency.

In cases of iron deficiency, the treatment objectives are:

  • To counteract the iron deficiency through proper diet or with supplements.

  • To reverse, minimize or at least limit the negative effects that has been caused by the disorder or imbalance.

The first objective for treating iron deficiency is to meet the body’s requirements of iron; that is, we want to bring iron levels to normal. 

The second is to reverse any unwanted changes caused by iron deficiency.

Constipation caused by iron deficiency can be a difficult problem to handle. If not dealt with properly, constipation may persist even when the iron deficiency is remedied. Iron supplements plus other agents are needed to rectify the problem caused by low iron and constipation.

Of course, the best treatment plan would be if there were a single agent that takes care of both objectives. If there such an agent, what is that? I will get to that in a minute.

Use of Iron Supplements as the Sole Medicaion

There are a number of factors to consider when treating iron deficiency with an iron supplement.

  1. Iron deficiency causes a decrease in bowel movements, resulting in constipation.

  2. Iron supplements are only useful if properly absorbed by the intestines.

  3. Iron absorption can be increased by either slowed peristalsis or by increased absorption.

            *  Slowed peristalsis means potentially painful constipation.
            *  To avoid constipation, we need a way to increase the absorption of iron.

Just taking an iron supplement is an inefficient way to increase iron levels. Thankfully, taking a magnesium supplement along with iron will increase the absorption of iron. 

A magnesium supplement, such as Ionic Sea Minerals, increases the absorption of iron, thereby decreasing the likelihood of constipation. Plus, this sea mineral supplement provides valuable trace minerals.

Efficacy of Daily Use of Magnesium

A magnesium supplement coupled with iron supplements in the treatment of iron deficiency helps in the following ways:

A.    It increases the absorption of iron from the intestinal lumen; the accelerated absorption minimizes the need for slowed peristalsis, thus avoiding constipation.

B.    Magnesium itself can prevent constipation by drawing water into the colon to make the stool softer, slicker and bulkier.

To fight against iron deficiency and alleviate constipation as the same time, I recommend that one take a magnesium mineral supplement along with iron.

When magnesium isn't added to iron supplementation, an iron deficiency may linger, as well as painful constipation, even after the iron deficiency is treated. 

Magnesium supplementation can be continued even after iron supplements are withdrawn. A magnesium supplement is generally safe, effective, and inexpensive, and has numerous potential health benefits

(Return from Low Iron and Constipation to Causes of Constipation)    

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