Iron has been used for therapeutic uses for
thousands of years. It was used by the Egyptians to
cure baldness and by
the Greeks it was used in wine to restore male potency.
Most people think
iron is a cure for chronic fatigue, increases the risk of early death by
heart attack, heart disease, joint pain, diabetes, cirrhosis,
infertility, depression and neurodegenerative diseases such as
Alzheimer's, early on-set Parkinson's, Lou Gehrig's, multiple sclerosis,
epilepsy, and Huntington's Disease.
It is the most
plentiful element on earth and it is an essential trace mineral for
humans. Two-thirds of the iron present in the body—about 3.5 g to
4.5 g—are in the blood and the rest is stored in the liver, spleen, bone
marrow and muscles.
Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, myoglobin and a cofactor
of several essential enzymes. Of the total iron in the body, 60 to 70
percent is stored in hemoglobin (the red part of red blood cells—a
component of myoglobin, an iron-protein complex in muscles. When the
muscles work harder this complex helps in getting them extra energy.
How This Mineral Works in Your Body:
- Transports oxygen and contributes to the storage of oxygen in the cells
- Prevents and treats iron-deficiency
anemia due to dietary iron
deficiency or other causes
- Stimulates bone-marrow production of hemoglobin, the red-blood-cell
pigment that carries oxygen to body cells
- Forms part of several enzymes and proteins in the body
- Essential for protein metabolism
- Assist in the production of thyroid hormones, connective tissue and
several brain neurotransmitters
- Maintains a healthy immune system
- help alleviate menstrual pain
- stimulate immunity in iron-deficient people
- promote learning in children with iron deficiency
- Many women, of child-bearing age, with heavy menstrual flow and women
with long or short menstrual periods (common in teenage girls)
- Anyone with inadequate caloric or dietary intake or increased
- People over the age of 55
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Those who abuse
alcohol or other drugs
- People with a chronic wasting illness
- Those under excess stress for long periods
- Anyone who has recently undergone surgery
- Athletes and workers who participate in vigorous physical activities
- Anyone who has lost blood recently such as from heavy menstrual periods,
an accident or long-term, undetected gastrointestinal bleeding
- Vegetarians with inadequate dietary intake
- Infants from 2 to 24 months
Where This Mineral is Found:
- Bread, enriched
- Egg yolk
- Red meats
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Molasses, blackstrap
- Dried fruits
- Enriched cereals
- Soybean flour
with normal iron levels in their body absorb about 10 percent of the
food iron consumed from food; however, an iron-deficient person can
absorb about 20 to 30 percent.
How to Use:
A prescription is required for some forms of an iron supplement
Take whole, as a tablet or capsule, with a full glass of liquid. Do not
chew or crush it. Take along with food or immediately after food
consumption to lessen stomach irritation
When taking orally, dilute in at least Ѕ glass of water or another
liquid. Take with your meals or 1 to 1-1/2 hours after your meal unless
otherwise advised by your physician.
Chewable tablets should be chewed well before swallowing.
As an enteric-coated tablet, take whole with a full glass of liquid.
Take with your meals or 1 to 1-1/2 hours after your meal unless
otherwise advised by your physician.
- Chewable tablets
- Ferritin, an iron protein complex
- Obtained both naturally and synthetically
Recommended Daily Intakes:
Suggest Intake: 10-18 mg
Men: 10 mg
Women: 15 mg
Pregnant: 30 mg
Lactating: 15 mg
Children: 10 mg
Do not take if you have:
- An allergy to any iron supplement
- Hemosiderosis or hemochromatosis (conditions involving excess iron in
- Had repeated blood transfusions
Consult your doctor if you have:
Any plans to become pregnant while on mediation
Had peptic-ulcer disease, enteritis, colitis
Had pancreatitis or hepatitis
A history of alcoholism
Excess vitamin C—problematic in people with iron-storage disorder
Deficiency is a common occurrence. Frequently check with your physician
for symptoms of anemia or slow blood loss in your stool.
If your family has a history of heart disease, consult your physician
before adding an iron supplement to your diet.
Being pregnant increases the need for iron. Consult with your physician.
In the first 3 months of pregnancy, take an iron supplement only if
prescribed by your physician.
You probably do not require a supplement if you are healthy and eat a
well balanced diet, however you should consult with your physician.
Your infant might need supplementation, namely if they are premature.
Consult with your physician.
Keep in a cool and dry location and away from direct light, but do not
Keep safely away from children, with a childproof cap. Unfortunately,
children have been known to overdose on Iron tablets due to their
likeness to candy.
Do not keep in bathroom medicine cabinet. Heat and dampness alter
the action of the mineral.
It is advised that you consult with your physician for the proper dose
for your condition
Iron can build up to harmful levels (hemosiderosis) in patients with
chronic kidney failure, Hodgkins disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
Extended use in high doses can cause hemochromatosis (iron-storage
disease), leading to bronze skin, diabetes, liver damage, impotence and
Symptoms of Deficiency:
Heart palpitations upon exertion
Pale appearance to skin, mucous membranes, nails
Decreased mental capacity, learning deficit
Signs and symptoms: What to do:
Early signs: Diarrhea with blood, severe nausea, abdominal pain,
vomiting with blood: Discontinue use of mineral and consult with your
Late signs: Weakness; collapse; pallor; blue lips, hands, fingernails;
shallow breathing; convulsions; coma; weak, rapid heartbeat:
Discontinue use of mineral and consult with your physician.
Too much iron result in an increased risk of cancer and coronary
disease: Discontinue use of mineral and consult with your physician.
for deficiency detection:
Total Iron-Binding Capacity (TIBC)
Microscopic exam of red blood cells
Effect on lab tests:
Iron cause unusual outcomes in serum bilirubin, serum calcium, serum
iron, special radioactive studies of bones using technetium
(Tc-99m-labeled agents) and stool studies for blood.
Signs and symptoms: What to do?
Abdominal pain: Discontinue use. Call physician immediately.
Black or gray stools (always): Nothing.
Blood in stools: Seek emergency treatment
Chest pain: Seek emergency treatment.
Drowsiness: Discontinue use. Call physician when convenient
Stained tooth (with liquid forms): Mix with water or juice to lessen
effect. Brush teeth with baking soda
or hydrogen peroxide to help remove stain.
Throat pain: Discontinue use. Call physician immediately.
Interacts with: Combined effect:
- Allopurinol: cause excess iron storage in liver.
- Antacids: Does not allow sufficient iron absorption.
- Calcium: Combination necessary for efficient
- Cholestyramine: Decreases effect of iron.
- Copper: Aids in copper absorption.
- Iron supplements (other): result in excess iron storage in liver.
- Pancreatin: Decreases absorption of iron.
- Penicillamine: Decreases penicillamine effect
- Sulfasalazine: Decreases effect of iron.
- Tetracyclines: Decreases tetracycline effect Take iron 3 hours before
or 2 hours after taking tetracycline.
- Alcohol: Increases the utilization of iron and cause organ damage
- Milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs, tea., coffee, spinach bran, whole-grain
and cereals: Decreases the body’s uptake of iron
- Vitamin C: Enhances the body’s uptake of iron
Blue-Green Algae (Spirulina,
Spirulina Maxima) Spirulina Platensis
Calcium (Calcium citrate) Calcium Gluconate)
Coenzyme Q (CoQ, Ubiquinoe, Coenzyme
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Desiccated Liver (Dessicated Liver)
Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) Evening
Ginkgo Biloba (Ginkgoaceae)
Ginseng (Asian, American, Korean,
Chinese, Panax, Quinquefolius)
Iron (Ferrous Sulfate)
Jojoba (Goatnut, Simmondsia Chinensis)
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA)
Potassium (Potassium Chloride,
Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine)
Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B-3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine, pyridoxal
Vitamin B-9 (Folic Acid) Folate,
Pteroyiglutamic Acid) Folacin)
Vitamin B-12 (Cyanocobalamin)
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol, sunshine
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
Vitamin H (Biotin)
Vitamin K (Phytonadione)
Vitamin P (Bioflavonoids,
Not Enough Iron Drains Endurance
Studies have shown that the endurance
levels of women low on iron may be shortened, even among women who have
not developed full-blown anemia. On a more positive note, women who take
a sufficient amount of iron may help correct the problem.
The study consisted of 41 women between
the ages of 18 and 33, who were moderately iron deficient and taking
iron supplements or placebo pills for six weeks. The results showed that
they experienced a boost in fitness after taking iron supplements.
Iron-deficiency anemia happens when the body has low amounts of
hemoglobin, an iron-containing protein found in the red cells, that
transports oxygen. All of the participants of the study rode stationary
bikes five days a week for the last four weeks of the study.
The purpose of the study was to
determine if iron supplements would help these women get more out of
their workouts. Researchers looked specifically at a measure called
serum transferring receptor concentration (sTfR), an indicator of iron
levels in the body tissues, in which the greater the concentration, the
greater the iron deficiency in the tissue.
Some of the symptoms of anemia include
fatigue, pale skin and breathlessness during exercise. Although iron
deficiency has been shown in animal studies to diminish endurance,
evidence of this has not been consistently shown in human studies.
The findings from the study revealed
that women who were given iron supplements made greater fitness gains
during their exercise programs. On the other hand, the supplements
didn’t offer any fitness benefits to women with normal sTfR levels,
whose endurance improved regardless of taking the iron. This finding
suggested the amount of iron loss had not been limited to their
endurance in the first place.
Experts have recommended people should
consult with a doctor before taking iron supplements because of their
many side effects, which include abdominal pain, nausea, constipation
and diarrhea. Experts also suggested that people assess their dietary
intake and look for good sources of iron like red meat, lentil and
spinach before taking iron pills.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March, 2004;79(3):437-43
Women Can Have Too Much Iron
Iron is potentially toxic because it
serves as a catalyst in oxidation-reduction reactions. Also, because the
human body has a limited capacity to excrete iron, it can build up in
the body. Awareness of the potential harm of iron stores in the body has
increased as animal and tissue studies have shown that large amounts of
iron can encourage increased rates of tumor growth, and have found
evidence of peroxidation induced by iron.
In one study of men, those with serum
ferritin (SF), an acute phase reactant protein used to measure iron in
the body, concentrations of greater than 200 µg/L had an over twofold
increase in acute myocardial infarction than men with SF concentrations
below 200 µg/L. While other studies did not reflect these findings,
researchers suggest that increased SF concentrations may not reflect
increased iron stores, but may result from infections associated with
coronary heart disease.
Most studies to date have been
conducted in men, who tend to have higher iron stores than women. Few
studies have been conducted to determine an association between iron
stores and risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women of reproductive
age. One recent study examined this association among relatively
healthy, non-pregnant women aged 20 to 49 years. Data from a survey
conducted from 1988 to 1994 were used to examine the relation between SF
concentration and CVD risk factors including body mass index (BMI),
total cholesterol, triacylglycerol, HDL cholesterol, plasma glucose, and
blood pressure. Results indicated that SF was strongly correlated with
total body iron stores, which combines hemoglobin, serum transferrin,
and ferritin. Researchers say that these findings suggest that CVD risk
factors are positively associated with iron stores in women of this age
American Journal Clinical Nutrition December 2002 76;1256-1260
Excess Iron Can Cause Parkinson's
Eating a diet too high in iron puts you
at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a
study. People with the highest levels of iron were 1.7 more likely to
develop the disease than those with the lowest iron intake. Further,
people with high levels of both iron and manganese were almost two times
as likely to develop Parkinson’s.
Iron and manganese contribute to
oxidative stress in the body, which may lead to a degeneration of brain
cells that are affected by Parkinson’s disease. Foods such as spinach,
legumes, nuts and whole grains are rich in both iron and manganese, but
researchers stress that the benefits of such foods outweigh the risks of
developing Parkinson’s disease.
Neurology June 10, 2003
Complementary and Alternative medicine
and mind-body-spirit approaches to health and
of blood under a specialized high powered ultra-dark
field microscope, reveals anomalies in the blood.
tool for prevention.
is recognized by most as
the most powerful and versatile therapy known in
alternative health because it plays a vital role in
maintaining the well-being of the body.
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