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How excessive consumption of iron can affect you

Updated on July 25, 2013

Effects of Excess Iron In the body

Most of you must have already know for a fact that eating too much of anything can be bad for your body. Our body requires limited quantities of iron, calcium, vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates to function normally. Iron is required to make hemoglobin which carries oxygen to various parts of the body. Since the body cannot make iron, it has to rely on external sources like blood transfusion and food consumption to acquire iron. Some of the foods that contain iron include beans, red meat, oats, oysters, green leafy vegetables, liver, sea food and dried fruits like raisins and prunes. Even though iron is one of the essential nutrients required by the body, it is only required in limited quantity.

Problems due to excessive consumption of Iron

Although iron is required by the body, excessive consumption of foods that contain iron can affect the way we function, grow, and develop. Increased consumption of iron can increase to toxic levels in the body which can damage the liver and kidney. Some of the symptoms of increased toxicity levels in the body include vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Health experts are of the opinion that people must avoid excessive consumption of iron as it can increase the risk of health certain problems such as cataracts, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart diseases, and osteoporosis. Increased consumption of iron can lead to accumulation of iron which can cause hemocharomatosis. Some of the factors that can increase iron accumulation in the body include genetic disorder, transfusional iron overload, and hereditary haemochromatosis.

Factors that affect iron absorption

The iron used by the body from the food you eat is called iron absorption. The normal rate of iron absorption in healthy adults is about 10 to 15 percent. There are several factors that can affect the iron absorption level in the body. One of the factors that can influences iron absorption is the storage level of iron in the body. If the storage levels are high, the absorption level decreases to protect the body from side effects of iron overload. So you must check your recommended dosage before you eat iron rich foods or take iron supplements.

Recommended Dosage of Iron
The daily dosage of iron recommended for women is higher when compared to men because women lose iron during their menstrual cycle. Some women who have heavy blood loss during their menstrual cycle are usually recommended higher dosage. Doctors could also recommend iron supplements for pregnant women to prevent anemia.

The table below gives details of recommended Iron Consumption

There are several iron rich foods that can provide the body with dietary iron it needs. Therefore, it is important that you don't take iron supplements without consulting your doctor. Also, you must consult your healthcare provider before taking birth control pills as some pills may contain dietary iron.
To increase the iron absorption level, you can take Vitamin C supplements after consulting your doctor. You can also regulate the level of iron in the body by donating blood at least once in six months.


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