How much iron is really needed?
When people experience certain deficiency symptoms, they often take tablets or other supplements to make up for them. However, such products do not always have to be helpful, because some also seem to have negative side effects. Scientists from Imperial College London have now warned against taking iron pills. These are suspected of damaging our DNA.
Dietary supplements should help our body to compensate for deficiency symptoms. Many people suffer from iron deficiency and therefore take tablets. But these tablets seem to have negative effects on our health. Researchers from Imperial College London have now found in a study that iron tablets damage our DNA. The scientists published the results of their investigation in the current journal "Plos one".
Iron tablets can cause DNA damage in ten minutes
In the case of iron deficiency (sideropenia), many affected people use tablets to compensate for the deficiency symptoms. Iron deficiency is often asymptomatic and therefore not easy to notice. The iron deficiency can cause many complications, such as diffuse hair loss, brittle nails, headache, dizziness, difficulty concentrating and tiredness. To avoid these negative effects, people often take iron tablets. In England and Wales alone, around six million prescriptions for iron tablets are issued each year, the experts explain. However, these could be harmful to our bodies, warn the doctors. The latest evidence suggests that developers of such tablets should think about the amount of iron they contain. The effects on our body must be considered. In their study, the scientists warn that the iron concentrations in standard treatments with tablets could trigger DNA damage in us within ten minutes.
Which people really need more iron?
Iron is an integral part of life. Without iron, for example, our immune system would not function properly, however, we do not normally have to take additional iron supplements, say the doctors. But there are also people who really need more iron. Pregnant women in particular need a lot of iron. The recommended daily allowance for pregnant women is 27 milligrams of iron a day, compared to 15 to 18 milligrams a day for women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Menstruation also deprives the body of its iron stores. If you have particularly heavy menstrual bleeding, your doctor can do a blood test to determine if there is iron deficiency, the researchers explain. If you regularly do intensive sporting exercises, you should also increase your iron intake by up to 30 percent, the experts advise.
Reduced risk of heart disease thanks to iron loss through menstruation
Men usually do not need to take extra iron if they do not suffer from diseases that cause chronic blood loss. However, the researchers warn that they may have an increased risk of building up excess iron due to hereditary conditions. According to the researchers, women show a low risk of heart disease before their menopause, which can be attributed to menstruation. The data from the "Framingham Heart Study" would indicate that the monthly loss of iron through menstruation can help reduce the risk of heart disease, the experts explain. When menopause begins in women, the risk of heart disease also increases. The storage of iron in postmenopausal women leads to an increased risk of corresponding diseases. Affected women should therefore avoid an additional iron supply, warn the scientists. (As)