It goes without saying that the human body is dependent on a number of factors in order for it to function and stay healthy. Vitamins and minerals are among the most important. Iron is the one mineral that the body needs but itís vital to know the dangers of getting either too little or too much.
What makes iron so important to our existence is the fact that it aids the blood and muscles in delivering oxygen and energy throughout the entire body, provides assistance to the immune system, and allows for mental clarity. The presence of iron can fight off anemia, prevent fatigue, enhance the immune systemís resistance to disease, and even help even out skin tone.
With all its benefits it seems hard to picture iron being bad for you, but having too much iron, known as ďiron overload,Ē is a reality. Too much iron in the human body can lead to a number of illnesses and diseases such as liver damage, joint pain, an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even certain forms of cancer. Those who are diagnosed with the genetic disorder hemachromatosis (where the human body naturally absorbs too much iron) should avoid taking iron supplements since this can lead to iron overload. Even if you donít have hemachromatosis you need to be careful about taking iron supplements because of the possibility of iron poisoning. Symptoms of iron supplement poisoning include diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Before taking any iron supplement, check with your doctor first and make sure to follow his/her instructions.
As if iron overload isnít enough to worry about, there is also the danger of having too little iron in your body, which is known as iron deficiency. Low iron comes with its own set of problems. Without the right amount of iron present, the body is forced to draw on its back up supply of iron. When that supply runs dry, anemia is often the result. Anemia is a condition that occurs when the body has fewer red blood cells than normal. This leads to the body lacking enough oxygen, causing you to feel very weak and can affect the brain and vital organs. In rare cases, anemia can result in death. Itís actually a lot easier to receive too little iron instead of too much. Many of us eat diets that donít contain enough iron. Teens, young women, and athletes who either eat poorly or do too much crash dieting put themselves at higher risk. More women than men tend to suffer from iron deficiencies.
Itís important to know which food items you need to include to get the right amount of iron in your system. Also talk to your doctor, who can advise you on the proper amount to consume.