30% of those with Hashimoto’s also have a rarely uncovered secondary autoimmune disorder that puts them at risk of anemia and other serious disorders.
A new study confirmed that Hashimoto’s sufferers are at significantly increased risk of harboring anti-parietal cell antibodies (PC-ab). So, what does that mean for your health? Let’s break it down.
1. What Are Parietal Cells?
Parietal cells are part of your stomach organ and are responsible for producing hydrochloric acid (HCl) and intrinsic factor (IF) after you eat. Hydrochloric acid, which causes the very low pH of the stomach, deconstructs proteins from your food and makes nutrients like iron and vitamin B12 available for absorption in your digestive tract. Intrinsic factor isn’t active in the stomach but travels alongside B12 into the intestines where it’s allows B12 to absorb into your circulation.
2. What is Parietal Cell Autoimmunity?
If your immune system has launched an attack against the parietal cells of your stomach, you’ll produce less HCl and IF than is optimal. This means that your digestion is stunted, and your body isn’t digesting and absorbing the critical nutrients for optimal health.
The most obvious problems are that iron and vitamin B12 are not released from ingested proteins. Both nutrients are critical for your red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body to facilitate energy production.
B12 is specifically responsible for making red blood cells small enough to travel out of bone marrow and into little capillaries where oxygen is needed.
Red blood cells must be small to carry oxygen across the blood brain barrier. It’s not surprising that those with Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline are often B-2 deficient. B12 deficiency from lack of IF is called pernicious anemia and is common in the elderly and in those with this type of autoimmunity. Iron deficiency is simply referred to as “iron deficiency anemia” and can be caused by inadequate intake of iron or PC-ab.
3. Symptoms of Parietal Cell Autoimmunity
The most common symptom of PC-ab, due to anemia is fatigue. This is because without oxygen, cells struggle to generate energy. Of course, this can be hard to detect in those with low thyroid as fatigue is a common symptom in both diseases. Other symptoms of anemia include:
- Restless legs syndrome
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Impaired immune function wound healing.
- Shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Weakness or loss of reflexes
Symptoms of B12 deficiency may also include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal bloating and gas, constipation or diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss and enlarged liver.
A smooth, thick, red tongue also is a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia.
4. Are You at risk?
Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with low thyroid, Hashimoto’s or you have low thyroid symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, dry hair and skin, cold intolerance and depression, time is of the essence.
Unfortunately, conventional doctors aren’t in the routine of running tests that will help you identify autoimmune disorders, instead they mask symptoms with prescriptions which allow your disease to quietly progress.
However, we know that the earlier an autoimmune disease is identified, the more effective the treatment plan can be. That is why we utilize the most thorough and advanced testing to identify the root cause of your symptoms. It’s the only way to design a treatment plan that reverses your imbalances and heals your body from the inside out.