can probiotics cause iron deficiency

Can Probiotics Cause Iron Deficiency? (why increase iron absorption)

If you want to know whether probiotics reduce the body’s iron levels, the answer is no. Your probiotic supplement won’t deprive you of your body’s iron contents.  

In fact, the International Probiotics Organization claims that based on evidence from many studies, the use of probiotics can help balance the required quantity of iron in your body.

Since probiotics can help with iron absorption, you may wonder about their relationship to the gut and balancing iron in the body.

This article will explain how probiotics affect iron status because it’s essential to health. If you’re deficient in iron, you’ll become anemic; if you’re overdoing it, your body could experience oxidative stress and insulin resistance.

Iron Deficiency and Gut Health (How’s It Related?)

iron supplements for the body

Iron deficiency is a common condition in humans, which can be caused by several factors, including poor diet and increased requirements during pregnancy.

The intestinal microbiota has a profound effect on host health. One of the most important ways it does this is by increasing the availability of dietary iron to the host. The bacteria colonizing the gut depend on iron for energy, so they cannot grow as well or produce as many metabolites when they lack it.

An iron deficiency can cause the bacteria normally found in your digestive tract to leak into your bloodstream. This is commonly referred to as Leaky Gut disease. Intestinal levels of iron are low; harmful bacteria can enter the gut and cause disease. 

In addition, any pathogens that get past the barrier of the mucosa and into the bloodstream are likely to have an increased chance of causing disease if they aren’t properly metabolized and broken down by their host. Thus, the healthy gut microbiota is important for maintaining good health because it allows the host to use dietary nonheme iron better.

By ensuring that your body has enough iron for optimal bacterial growth, you can reduce colonization and virulence by pathogens.

What Happens When You Take Iron and Probiotics Supplements Together?

Taking iron and probiotics together with a meal is the best way to optimize your gut microbiome while reducing nausea. 

How does this happen?

 When you take iron and probiotics together, the combination can help restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut. This is because both nutrients are essential for promoting a healthy microbiome.

Original study shows that iron and probiotic combinations can do the following:

Raised Liver Iron Content

When you combine iron with probiotics, the combination can help you raise your liver’s iron content. This is because both nutrients are essential for promoting a healthy microbiome. A healthy microbiome helps your body absorb more iron, which is why taking probiotics with iron can improve absorption.

Reduced Body Inflammation

That’s right—when you take probiotics and iron together, it’s not just about increasing your body’s ability to absorb the mineral; it’s also about altering its natural absorption process, so it absorbs more. You’ll have a higher serum ferritin level and a lower serum transferrin saturation level (a marker of inflammation), which means your body will be less congested with free radicals and toxins.

Increase duodenal iron absorption

Your small intestine is where most of your body’s absorption takes place, but it only absorbs about 2% of dietary iron. When you take probiotics and iron together, the combination can increase duodenal iron absorption.

This is because probiotics increase the number of iron transporters in your small intestine, which helps you absorb more iron from your food. This is especially helpful for women who are menstruating and pregnant, as they lose blood and need extra iron during their periods.

Alterations in Trace element

The combination of iron and probiotics can cause alterations in the status of copper, zinc, and other trace metals, like manganese.

For instance, copper is a trace mineral that may help prevent the development of anemia. It also involves many other important functions, like blood vessel formation and red blood cell production. Zinc, another trace metal, also plays a role in protecting against anemia. This is because it helps form hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout your body.

Why Does My Gut Not Absorb Iron?

Your gut may not be absorbing enough iron because

  • Alcoholism and heavy smoking Your gut may not absorb iron if you are suffering from diarrhea or constipation. In addition, certain foods like coffee, tea, and chocolate may inhibit the absorption of iron.
  • Poor diet and nutrition, including eating lots of processed foods and refined carbohydrates.
  • Age: the elderly are more likely to be deficient in iron as they lose blood during menstruation, which reduces their ability to absorb enough iron from food
  • Some medications like aspirin and antacids can interfere with the absorption of iron
  • You may be deficient in iron if you’re a woman who has heavy periods, as blood loss reduces iron levels.

Other health conditions that reduce iron absorption include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Antibiotics
  • Diverticulitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Malabsorption syndromes, such as Celiac disease or intestinal cancer
  • Crohn’s disease and celiac disease are two intestinal conditions that can reduce the absorption of certain nutrients, including iron.

Do Probiotics Help With Iron Deficiency? 

Common symptoms of iron deficiency is extreme fatigue

The evidence is clear for probiotics and iron supplementation: adding probiotics to your diet can help you absorb more iron. So if you want to boost your iron levels and get more out of your supplements, consider giving probiotic supplements a try.

Probiotics can help with several health problems. One of these is iron deficiency, which is characterized by a lack of hemoglobin and other nutrients needed for proper red blood cell function.

Probiotics can act as carriers for iron and convert unavailable iron into its available form, creating metabolites that indirectly increase iron absorption in the gut by binding to it.

For example, Lactobacillus Plantarum increases the amount of iron in the gut by 30%.

This is important because it means that probiotic supplements can help with low iron conditions. Even if you are low on dietary sources of iron or are suffering from gastrointestinal issues such as Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

What Probiotic Strains Help With Iron Deficiency?

We now understand that probiotics can enhance the gut’s ability to absorb iron. Knowing which strain will enable you to accomplish this is crucial.

Many studies have examined the various strains and how they affect the absorption of iron in the gut. The table below details the many types of iron deficiency and how each can be treated with various probiotic strains.

Table showing different iron deficiency and probiotic strain to treat them
Source: NCBI 

Notably, the probiotic Lactobacillus Fermentum can consume the iron in your gut and convert it to iron oxide, which is more easily absorbed by the body’s blood vessels. This improves the availability of dietary iron.

Another probiotic, Lactobacillus Plantarum probiotic, can help improve iron absorption by increasing the amount of lactoferrin in the gut. Lactoferrin is an important protein that binds to iron, making it easier for your body to absorb. 

Bifidobacterium lactis probiotics can also increase blood levels of ferritin, which is a protein that stores iron inside cells. By increasing ferritin levels, bifidobacteria can help your body store more iron.

Probiotic Supplement To Treat Iron Deficiency

Supplement with the right probiotic strain can help you improve iron absorption and reduces the chance of iron deficiency.

Some brands have probiotics and iron supplements in one capsule, which is convenient. However, some probiotics have been found to improve iron absorption even without the addition of iron supplements.

You can also look at the list of probiotic brands below and see which one you think will work best for you: 

  • YourBiology Probiotic

Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus Plantarum are two ingredients in the YourBiology probiotic that has been linked to enhancing the gastrointestinal absorption of iron. The probiotic contains 40 billion CFUs, which is more than the average probiotic. The brand also has a lot of positive reviews from customers who have tried it.

Yourbiology probiotics for women
  • Biotics 8

Biotics 8 is a well-known high-performance probiotic that helps support testosterone levels, but it also contains strains like Lactobacillus fermentum—which can help absorb iron in the gut. It’s a great option if you want to take a probiotic with your iron supplement and still get the full benefits of both.

  • Fusion Plus Probiotic

Fusion Plus combines a high dose of different sources of iron with probiotics to boost your absorption levels. It also contains a high dose of vitamin C, which is another great way to boost your absorption. It’s a good option if you need a lot of iron and doesn’t have time to take multiple supplements separately.

Conclusion: 4 Ways To Maximize Probiotic Supplement For Iron Absorption

Probiotics are a way to boost your iron levels, but research has shown that there may be more to it than just popping a supplement.

Here’s what the studies suggest you should do if you want maximum absorption:

  • Use Multi-strain probiotics. Probiotics with many strains cause a dose-independent iron shift from serum and intensify this metal’s presence in pancreatic and liver cells.
  • Take the probiotic supplement with food, preferably with a meal that contains plenty of non-heme iron sources such as beans, lentils, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.
  • Use a chewable probiotic. The ability of chewy probiotics to promote iron absorption is dose-dependent. It may be because saliva containing amylase enzymes breaks down starch into smaller sugar molecules.
  • Take the probiotic supplement with a vitamin C source. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help your body absorb more iron from non-heme sources, and it’s also an essential nutrient for supporting your immune system.


Do Probiotics Contain Iron?

Probiotics are not made up of iron. However, probiotics may help your body absorb more iron from other foods you eat. For example, if you have anemia and are taking an iron supplement, adding a probiotic to your daily routine may help increase the amount of iron absorbed into your system. However, some probiotic supplement contains iron supplementation as part of the probiotic formula. For example, some probiotics contain iron as ferrous sulfate or ferrous fumarate.

Can Probiotics Help Treat Anaemia?

By increasing the absorption and bioavailability of iron in the body, probiotic bacteria strains can reduce the symptoms and severity of anemia. This is especially useful for patients who have been prescribed iron supplements but are struggling to absorb them effectively. Probiotics are also beneficial in reducing inflammation caused by iron deficiency anemia, as they can reduce the symptoms such as abdominal pain and constipation.

What Bacteria Causes Iron Deficiency? 

H. pylori infection causes iron deficiency anemia by impairing iron absorption because of chronic gastritis. This condition causes low stomach acid production that does not break down dietary iron properly. Other bacteria that cause iron deficiency include E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella. These bacteria can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems that lead to blood loss.

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