Iron is an important mineral required by your body to carry out normal bodily functions. While adequate iron in your body keeps you energetic and healthy, too much accumulation of iron may be detrimental for your health. Most people living in America and other developed countries have adequate amount of iron in their body. A good mix of diet with an average helping of meat and vegetable is what you require for an adequate iron store in your body.
Of course iron requirement may vary from one person to another, especially in women as there is iron loss during menses, childbirth etc.
It is possible to get overloaded with too much of iron from eating iron rich food or taking its supplements. Besides this, hematochromatosis is a most common disease with high levels of iron store. It is a genetic inherited disorder that can affect both men and women. When no genetic predominance is evident, there is often a history of excessive alcohol intake. Normally only ten percent of iron is absorbed from what you eat, and that is what is required by the body, however in Hematochromatosis, more than 30 percent of iron is absorbed for many years.
Symptoms Of Too Much Iron In The Body
The deposition of excess of iron occurs in the liver, heart, and the pancreas to produce number of symptoms such as:
- Gastric upset resulting into diarrhea with bloody stool, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramps.
- Leaden- grey color of the skin is characteristic and it due to deposition of iron pigment and excess of melanin pigment which gives color to the skin.
- Fast and shallow breathing.
- Skin is cold and clammy.
- The nails appear bluish.
- Lips also appear blue tinged.
- Generalized weakness.
- Pain in joints.
- Heart palpitation.
- Jaundice, urine is dark yellow.
Iron Overload Symptoms In Women
The symptoms of too much of iron in women may appear late and not during child bearing age due to slight loss of iron during menses, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Symptoms in men: in men the symptoms develop over the age of 40 years.
Aside from the above mentioned symptoms, men may suffer from impotence, pain in joints, infertility, poor appetite, loss of weight, sharp pain in stomach, fever, sweating etc.
Side Effects Of Iron Overload
Side effects of too much iron in the body are:
- Too much of iron in children can cause iron poisoning. As little as 200 mg of iron can become a fatal cause among children. For this reason keep iron tablets away from children to prevent accidental iron poisoning.
- Cancer, especially there is increased risk of liver cancer among people having high iron storage. It can affect both men and women, though found commonly in men.
- Constipation is one of the common side effects of high levels of iron.
- Diabetes, also called bronze diabetes as excess of iron gets deposited in the pancreas. It hampers the insulin release.
- Heart damage resulting into congestive cardiac failure due to too much deposition of iron in the heart muscles.