The Danger of Levels of Iron That Are Too High

By Rich Carroll    
foods that contain iron,
Most everything we've heard about iron in our blood is that most people have deficiencies, but there are also dangers in having too much iron. Iron is essential for human life, and with too little a person can experience fatigue and decreased immunity and anemia. But too much can lead to cancer, heart disease and liver issues. Knowing exactly where your iron levels are for your optimum health is vital and it can be done simply with a serum ferritin test.

This test should be done on a regular basis. Ferritin is a protein found inside of the cells and is a carrier for iron. When we measure this protein it can tell if our protein levels are low or high. A health level of serum ferritin is between 20 and 80 ng/ml. Below 20 and a person is probably iron deficient and above 80 is an iron surplus. Testing over 100 starts to get serious and over 300 is considered particularly toxic, and if these levels are maintained for a period of time could cause serious damage.

People most at risk are adult men and post-menopausal women. Regular blood loss is one way to keep iron levels from becoming high, which is another good reason to donate blood regularly. So what are some of the causes, besides genetics, for people to get iron overload?

1. Iron-fortified food. The iron that is used to fortify white bread and cereals is not inorganic iron, and it is far more dangerous health wise to ingest than the iron we get out of meat.

2. Well water high in iron. Depending on where you live, water that does not go through a water filtration system can be quite high in minerals, including iron.

3. Your cook-wear. Iron pots and pans can cause high levels of iron absorption, multiplying the effects of acidic foods.

4. Multiple mineral and vitamin supplements. Both can frequently have iron in them, and they can certainly add to the item in a person's system.

5. Alcohol consumption. When you have wine with that iron-laden steak, you will absorb much more iron than without the wine.

Partaking in any of these may add iron to your system, but until you test you probably won't know if it is too much for your system. But if your levels are high, know that your body has a limited capacity to rid itself of iron. Iron is a potent oxidizer and can damage body tissues, and when it builds up in organs such as the liver, pancreas and heart it can lead to serious health problems.

If you find your iron levels are high, as mentioned earlier giving blood is an excellent option. Next would be to stay away from those iron sources that may cause you problems. Here are a few other things to consider:
1. Green tea and rosemary are phenolic-rich, and they can reduce iron absorption.

2. The curcumin in turmeric acts as an iron chelator and can help.

3. Astaxanthin is a naturally-occurring carotenoid found in, lobster, crab, algae, shrimp and salmon. Carotenoids are pigment colors that occur naturally in these foods and can also help.

Foods such as turmeric have so many health benefits we should all look into using them. They should all be part of a Rich Carroll is a writer and avid health advocate now living in Chicago.
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