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What is the effect of too much iron in my diet?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The consequences of taking too much iron can be grave. Iron overload can be life-threatening and, not surprisingly, may make your RealAge (physiologic age) older. Perhaps this news sounds surprising. After all, most of us were raised with cartoon images of Popeye gulping down spinach to revitalize his strength. We all thought we needed our iron. Don't get me wrong, spinach is good. However, needless iron in supplements ages us. Avoid iron unless it is prescribed for you by a physician.

Iron stays in the body for a long time and, when present in large amounts, can be toxic. Even slightly excessive levels of iron in the body can be damaging. Too much iron may interfere with our zinc levels. Studies have linked elevated iron levels with increased rates of cardiovascular disease and cancers. Although in both cases the evidence is somewhat preliminary, and we still need to do more studies to prove the links, taking extra iron is not worth the risk.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.