SIBO and Anemia

Are you always tired? Have you seen your family doctor and been diagnosed with anemia but don't know the root cause? Are you taking iron and finding that it is not making you feel any better? Did you know that bacteria in the small intestine are able to consume and deplete Iron and Vitamin B12, both of which are essential for normal red blood cell function?

Anemia is defined as a deficiency of hemoglobin or red blood cells, but there are many different types of anemia. The most common form is due to a lack of Iron in the body, but other forms may be inadequate levels of certain vitamins, like Vitamin B9 & B12, chronic disease, or genetic conditions.

It is more well known and recognized that SIBO is the leading cause of IBS, however what is so often overlooked is the effect that these bacteria have on the digestive and absorptive functions of the small intestine. Unlike the large intestine (also known as the colon), the small intestine is not designed for heavy bacterial colonization. When too much bacteria reside in the small intestine, one of the first things they do, aside from occupying the space, is deplete essential nutrients. Specifically, for those with Anemia, the nutrients Iron and Vitamin B12 are both required to prevent anemia.

Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying molecule found in our blood. It is the central structure (heme) to which the protein subunits binds (globin) forming the hemoglobin molecule. Without enough iron, we cannot adequately oxygenate our bodies. Humans are not the only ones that need iron! Bacteria also have an iron requirement in order to replicate, and therefore must get it from their environment... and in SIBO cases, that comes from within the host's intestines. Therefore, the more bacteria, the greater the iron requirement, and the less that is available for the host to absorb. 

Vitamin B12 is essential to make healthy red blood cells but what is so commonly overlooked is that gram negative bacteria competitively try and use the Vitamin B12 before it can be absorbed by our bodies! Common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness, numbness & tingling in the hands and feet and even neurological symptoms such as depression and memory loss. While Vitamin B12 comes primarily from our animal sources in our diet, B12 deficiency is common in vegetarians and vegans because it is the only B vitamin not found in plants. Vitamin B12 supplementation may be necessary and can be given by a health care provider through injectable forms, or taken orally/sublingually.  

If you have been diagnosed with IBS and also have chronic anemia, low iron levels despite eating a healthy diet, are fatigued, and are absent of any other chronic health issues, you absolutely should get SIBO Testing so it can be ruled out. Contact a SIBO Doctor today to get SIBO Testing and cutting edge, individualized SIBO Treatment.


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