Why is too much iron harmful ?

Iron
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too much iron harmful

Iron is among the minerals necessary to be considered.

However, like many other minerals, over-consumption is harmful to health.

In fact, iron can be so toxic that its absorption is tightly controlled by the gastrointestinal tract.

In this way, the risk of over-absorption and, of course, its negative effects are minimized.

When this immune mechanism is impaired, health-related problems arise.

In this article, we will discuss the effects of high iron consumption on the body :

What is iron?

Iron is considered to be one of the most important nutrient minerals, most of which is consumed by red blood cells.

A major part of hemoglobin is the protein found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen to the body’s cells.

There are two types of dietary iron:

Blood iron: This type of iron is found only in animal foods, often in red meat . This type of iron is more easily absorbed by the body than other blood-forming iron.

Non-coloring iron: Most dietary iron is non-coloring. This type of iron is found in both plant and animal foods. Its absorption increases with essential acids such as vitamin C , but this process decreases with the consumption of plant compounds such as phytic acid.

People who absorb small amounts of hematopoietic iron from their diet or whose diet does not contain any hematopoietic iron are at risk for iron deficiency.

Many people suffer from iron deficiency , especially women. In fact, iron deficiency is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in the world.

Iron storage rule

Iron levels in the body are constantly adjusted for two main reasons:

Iron is an essential mineral that plays a major role in many of the body’s basic functions, but our bodies need a limited amount of it.

Excess iron intake is potentially toxic, so it is not possible for the body to absorb too much iron.

The body regulates the amount of iron it needs by absorbing it through the gastrointestinal tract.

Hepcidin, the hormone that regulates iron, is responsible for maintaining the balance of iron stored in the body. Its main function is to prevent the absorption of abundant iron.

It basically works like this:

Abundant iron absorption – <Increased levels of hepcidin secretion – <Decreased iron absorption.

Decreased iron stores – <Decreased hepcidin secretion – Increased iron absorption.

In most cases, this system works quite accurately. However, some disorders prevent the secretion of hepcidin, which leads to the accumulation of iron in the body.

On the other hand, conditions that lead to excessive secretion of hepcidin cause iron deficiency in the body.

The balance of iron in the body can be affected by dietary iron intake. Over time, diets that do not have enough iron can cause iron deficiency. On the other hand, taking too much iron supplements increases the risk of acute iron poisoning.

Iron poisoning

Excessive iron poisoning can be both sudden and gradual.

Many serious health problems are caused by accidental overdose of iron, such as long-term overdose of supplements or chronic chronic iron deficiency.

Under normal circumstances, small amounts of iron circulate in vital arteries.

Its health depends on proteins such as transferrin, which prevent iron from damaging other tissues.

However, iron poisoning can significantly increase the level of free iron in the body.

Free iron has oxidizing properties, the antithesis of antioxidant properties, and can lead to cell damage.

This can have several factors. Including:

Iron poisoning : Poisoning occurs when people, especially children, take too much iron supplements.

Hereditary hemochromatosis (abnormal accumulation of iron): A genetic disorder that occurs with excessive absorption of iron from foods.

Excessive iron accumulation in blacks (African): An iron-rich diet resulting from the consumption of iron-rich foods and beverages. This was first seen in Africa, where homemade and home-brewed beers were stored in metal barrels.

Iron poisoning occurs exactly when people overdose on iron supplements. A dose of 10 to 20 mg can cause adverse symptoms, while taking more than 40 mg per day can cause injuries that require medical attention.

Thus, excessive consumption of iron supplements leads to acute problems. Make sure you follow the instructions on the iron supplement and never take more than your doctor prescribes.

Early signs of iron poisoning include pain, nausea, and vomiting.

In general, the accumulation of large amounts of iron in internal organs potentially leads to fatal damage, including to the brain and liver.

The symptoms of overdose over time are very similar to the symptoms of iron accumulation in the body, which are discussed in detail below.

Accumulation of iron in the body

Iron accumulation refers to the gradual formation of abundant iron in the body. This is due to a malfunction in the iron leveling system.

Accumulation of iron in the body of most people is not so worrying. But it can be a concern for people who are genetically predisposed to high levels of iron from their digestive tract.

The most common disorder of iron accumulation is hereditary hemochromatosis, which leads to the formation of iron in the tissues and organs of the body.

If left untreated, hemochromatosis increases the risk of osteoarthritis, cancer, liver failure , diabetes, and heart disease over time.

Getting rid of this extra iron is not easy for the body. The most effective way to get rid of iron accumulation is to lose blood.

Therefore, women are less likely to experience problems with iron accumulation after puberty and before menopause. In addition, people who donate blood regularly have the least risk.

If you find yourself prone to iron accumulation, minimize the risk of any problems by:

Reduce iron-rich foods such as red meat.

Regular blood donation.

Avoid taking vitamin C with foods rich in iron.

However, reducing your iron intake and absorption is generally not recommended if you do not have any signs of iron accumulation.

Disadvantages of high iron supplementation

Iron and the risk of cancer

There is no doubt that iron accumulation can lead to cancer in both humans and animals.

Blood donation and blood loss appear to reduce this risk.

Observational studies suggest that excessive absorption of blood-thinning iron increases the risk of colon cancer.

Clinical trials have shown that blood-iron supplements and red meat increase the formation of carcinogens called nitrocyl in the digestive tract.

The link between red meat and cancer is one of the topics discussed in scientific circles. Although some mechanisms seem plausible in justifying this relationship, most evidence is based on observational studies.

Iron and the risk of infection

Both excessive accumulation of iron in the body and its deficiency seem to make people more susceptible to infectious diseases.

The cause can be summarized in two cases:

The body’s immune system uses iron to kill harmful bacteria, so the body needs some iron to fight infections.

Elevated levels of free iron stimulate bacteria and viruses to grow, so too much iron can have the opposite effect and increase the risk of infection.

Several studies have shown that iron supplementation increases the frequency and severity of infection, while some studies claim that there is no association between them.

People with inherited hemochromatosis are at higher risk for infection.

Before taking any iron supplement by people who are at risk of infection, all aspects of the matter should be considered and all hazards should be considered.

In short, high iron intake can be dangerous.

However, except in cases of iron deficiency disorders, you do not need to worry about absorbing too much iron from your diet.

Taking iron supplements has a different story. It is good for people who suffer from iron deficiency, but it can also be harmful for people who are not iron deficient.

Iron supplements should never be taken arbitrarily without a doctor’s advice.

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