Elevated iron levels in the blood is a serious health concern. Over-consumption has increased through iron-fortified foods, supplements, smoking, excess alcohol and high red meat consumption. Iron overload is also acquired through inhalation and injection as well as ingestion.
Iron is life-sustaining, but when in excess in the tissues of the body, iron can be fatal. Since there is no physiological means of excreting iron from the body, except by blood loss, over time the excess iron accumulates at toxic levels in the heart, liver, endocrine glands and joints. Overwhelmed with iron, these systems can no longer function optimally and the disease process takes over. Iron buildup is a factor in a number of chronic disease.
Iron is essential for proper cell growth and for hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Much of the iron resides in the blood circulation. Women have half the blood levels of iron compared to men. However, as women reach menopause, iron levels begin to increase. By age 50 men may have an increase of thousands of milligrams of excess iron in their circulation. After age 40 males accumlate one excess milligram of iron per day of life. The same is true for women who have undergone early hysterectomy. Adults who regularly donate blood have lower levels of iron and are healthier. Donating blood to reduce excessive levels of iron and copper is now considered as a treatment for various diseases in which excess iron may be a factor.
Studies show that adults who consume more iron in their diets increase the risk of heart disease. For adults, iron should be acquired solely from the diet and caution against over-consumption of iron-fortified foods is recommended.
In a future article, I will expand on some of the various ways in which excess iron can be lowered by not only donating blood but by using natural iron-binding antioxidants and iron chelators.
Vitamin Department Manager
Excerpt from “What’s Best”, by Bill Sardi and “Exposing The Hidden Dangers of Iron”, by E. D. Weinberg, Ph.D.