Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune problem. In this, the body’s immune system damages the insulin-producing cells. Insulin is a hormone that aids the cells absorbs sugar from the food products a person consumes. As insulin is inadequate in Type 1 diabetes, sugar fails to be used by the body. This increases its blood level. Certain complications relate to Type 1 diabetes. These include kidney damage. Kidney damage may occur due to iron deficiency. This also changes blood sugar levels. Iron deficiency or anaemia is a medical condition that impacts 20%-25% of the population. Iron is a vital nutrient, and its deficiency relates to reduced quality of life. Discuss with a doctor to regularly check the iron levels if a person is Type 1 diabetic. Read this blog to know about the best iron supplements for type 1 diabetics.
Type 1 Diabetes and the Risk of Iron Deficiency
The following Type 1 diabetes-related complications might increase the risk of iron deficiency.
Anaemia is a health problem where the body forms a smaller number of RBCs. Kidneys produce hormones known as erythropoietin. It controls the production of red blood cells. These blood cells carry oxygen to the rest of the body. A failed diabetes management might damage the part of the kidneys that filter blood. The damaged kidney fails to form enough EPO. This results in fewer red blood cells. Damaged kidneys require hemodialysis to manage blood purification. This results in loss of blood and nutrients like iron. To conclude, diabetic nephropathy might give rise to fewer red blood cells and iron deficiency.
A genetic association exists between Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Also, having Type 1 diabetes enhances the risk of celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune problem. In this, gluten intake activates the immune response. This results in damage to the small intestine. With gluten, celiac disease also hinders the absorption of other nutrients, such as iron.
Irregular glucose levels might also damage nerves responsible for controlling involuntary functions of the body. This result in a condition called autonomic neuropathy. In this case, the body fails to signal the kidneys to form erythropoietin sufficiently. This finally gives rise to fewer red blood cells and anaemia.
Signs of Type 1 Diabetes and Iron Deficiency Anemia
As the body receives less oxygen, a person feels weak and fatigued. Some common signs may include:
- Cold feet and hands
- Breathing difficulties
- Pale skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Low body temperature
- Chest pain
Type 1 Diabetes and Iron Deficiency Anemia Meal Plan
If you are deficient in iron, your doctor may advise iron-rich foods like:
- Iron-fortified cereals
- Squash and pumpkin seeds
- Dried fruits
- Seafood such as sardines, oysters, clams, shrimp
- Chicken and beef
- Leafy greens like spinach
Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron. This involves vitamin-C rich food items which improve iron levels. Few sources of vitamin C may include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Fruits including grapefruits, kiwis, oranges, and melons
- Green and red bell peppers
Iron Supplements for Type 1 Diabetics
The doctor may advise over-the-counter iron supplements. These are known to manage iron deficiency. People can take iron in liquid form, particularly in children and infants. The doctor would decide on an ideal dose depending upon the diagnosis.
To improve iron absorption, a doctor might suggest the following:
- Do not take iron supplements with antacids: Medicines that assist the management of heartburn alters iron absorption. It is advisable to consume iron supplements 2-4 hours after consuming antacids.
- Take it on an empty stomach: Consuming it on an empty stomach improves its absorption. Yet, if these supplements upset a person’s stomach, it is advisable to take them with meals.
- Take Vitamin C: Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron. A healthcare provider may advise using iron tablets with vitamin C supplements or orange juice.
Also, iron supplements might result in constipation. In such cases, a doctor would suggest a stool softener. The doctor might also suggest the addition of more fibre into the diet.
Avoid foods that reduce iron absorption in combination with iron supplements. These may include:
- High fiber foods
A person might feel better within some days of consuming iron supplements. But a person must not stop taking supplements without a doctor’s consultation. It takes numerous months for a person’s body to build the iron amount vital for him or her. Also, consult a doctor before consuming iron supplements. If the dose is inaccurate, too much iron may accumulate in the blood. And, it may result in iron poisoning.
Iron & Diabetes: A1C
There are 2 different iron-level conditions relevant to diabetes. The first is hemochromatosis. It is a genetic condition present among individuals with Celtic ancestry. Hemochromatosis makes a person absorb an excess of iron. And, the high iron levels attack many body organs. These organs may also include the pancreatic beta cells. As a result, people with the hemochromatosis gene are at a greater risk of developing diabetes. Few individuals absorb enough iron that their skin turns slightly brown. Also, if they develop diabetes, it’s known as bronze diabetes. This occurs due to the development of bronzed color of the skin.
The other condition is opposite to the above. It is a form of anaemia or too little haemoglobin in the blood. It happens when a person fails to absorb enough iron or when a person loses iron as the person has lost a lot of blood. Without iron, a person fails to make haemoglobin. And, without haemoglobin, a person can’t make a sufficient number of RBCs. This condition is known as iron-deficiency anemia.
There is a test for both these conditions. And, this is the ferritin test. Ferritin is a protein that the body uses to store iron. Ferritin is a good indicator of overall iron levels in the body. Low ferritin indicates iron-deficiency anemia. While, high ferritin indicates hemochromatosis.
Iron-deficiency anaemia might increase the haemoglobin A1c test values. These increases in A1c levels are often present in late pregnancy. And, this results due to iron deficiency anemia rather than by increases in blood sugar levels.
If a person has iron-deficiency anaemia and he or she treats it with iron supplements, the value of A1c would drop. The reason that iron-deficiency anaemia reduces the A1c is unclear. It might associate with the lifespan of the red blood cell. Few people believe that it relates to oxidative stress. Even if, iron-deficiency anemia increases the A1c go up, hemolytic anemias decreases the A1c values. Hemolytic anemia is a form of anemia that damages the RBCs. This lowers the lifespan of the cells. And, as a result it brings about an abnormally low A1c.
The analysis of the A1c test assumes the RBC live an average of 120 days. In fact, the actual lifetime of RBCs even in healthy people may differ from individual to individual. This might be one reason some people appear getting A1c results that are either higher or lower than the home test.
Thus, there are many things that affect a person’s health. Also, many other things affect the lab tests used to monitor a person’s health. Remember that no lab test is 100% precise for all patients under all conditions. If a person receives an abnormal lab test, don’t panic. It aids to have the test repeated, just in case it was lab error. Other times it’s just an idea that something may be wrong. Then a person may work on what resulted into a positive lab test. Also, a person can see if that fixes the issue.
If a person has hemochromatosis, it is always better to get a test for ferritin. If a person is anemic (rapid heartbeat, fatigue, pale skin), doctors suggest the same test.
There is a link between iron deficiency or anaemia and Type 1 diabetes. Various diabetes-related complications like nephropathy and neuropathy enhance the risk of iron deficiency. If a person has signs of iron deficiency, he or she must ask a doctor about checking the levels. Depending upon the levels and condition, the doctor may suggest OTC iron supplements.
Can low iron result in high glucose?
The presence of iron deficiency my cause higher HbA1c values.
Do Type 1 diabetics have low iron?
A greater risk for iron deficiency may cause anemia. The condition occurs in children with early stages of type 1 diabetes. Anemia in diabetes is not rare and may add to disease complications.
Do iron supplements affect blood sugar?
Iron tablets do not cause spikes in the blood glucose levels. Also, a person has to be careful what he or she consumes them with. To aid iron absorption, many doctors advise to take the iron tablets with vitamin C3.
Does iron have an impact on the insulin?
The lipid peroxidation resulting due to an increase in iron storage decreases the usage of sugar in muscle tissue. This increases gluconeogenesis, and results into insulin resistance.
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.