Iron Supplements: Do You Need Them?

 

A poll result published on 26 Nov 2015 indicates that nearly 50% of females in Singapore may not be aware that they have iron deficiency. Doctors said that symptoms such as physical and mental fatigue, hair loss, brittle nails, may point to iron deficiency – but most people may put them down to stress and/or lack of sleep.

Iron deficiency is more often found in women who have heavy menstruations or are pregnant. While iron supplements may be readily available, doctors recommend a balanced diet as the best way to maintain healthy iron levels.

iron supplements

How about the reverse – iron overload?

In the article published by PhysiciansCommittee, iron is called a double-edged sword.

The body requires iron for healthy blood cells but beyond a certain level, iron becomes a dangerous substance as it acts as a catalyst for the formation of free radicals. Once the excess iron is absorbed by the digestive tract, the body stores it. Because of this, research studies have shown that higher amounts of iron in the blood mean higher risk of cancer.

In spite of advertising from health supplement manufacturers, iron overload exists and the tendency is higher for men and for women after menopause.

anaemia

Major contributors to iron excess are taking vitamin and mineral supplements that contain iron. Some people may be taking certain multi-vitamins without knowing that there is iron in it. Other factors include eating excessive red meat and to some extent, processed foods that have iron added.

It was mentioned earlier that women with heavy menstruations may have iron deficiency. The reverse may be true for women after menopause or women who don’t menstruate regularly. Which explains why men have a higher tendency of iron overload – because they don’t menstruate!

Hence, it is prudent to have your doctor check your iron level before taking any supplements containing iron.

What are the symptoms of iron overload?

  • stomach pain
  • heart palpitations or chest pains
  • unexplained weakness
  • joint pain
  • unexplained fatigue

joint pain

The test used to check one’s iron level is known as ferritin. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron, releasing it when the body needs it. Ferritin is stored in the body’s cells until it’s time to make more red blood cells. Thus, if a person has an iron overload, it may take months before the normal level can be reached.

It’s an inexpensive test, likely costing less than a bottle of iron supplements, and it can help ensure that you do not over or under-consume iron.

For more information on integrated health management, visit www.vitalay.earth

Contributed by LayYong, Wellness Entrepreneur.


References:

The Straits Times “Women not aware of iron deficiency”, Nov 26 2015

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Iron: The Double Edged Sword, www.pcrm.org

Photo credits: Pixabay and JustSaying.Asia

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