Iron is an essential mineral for the body, but just like other nutrients, it’s a lot to the body. In fact, iron is so toxic that absorption by the digestive system is heavily controlled, and therefore, in most cases, the side effects of iron are minimized. But when these immune mechanisms get disturbed or do not perform well, there will be a health problem.
This article discusses the harmful side effects of excessive iron intake.
What is iron?
Iron is a necessary mineral substance, most of which is consumed by red blood cells.
Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is responsible for the transfer of oxygen to all cells of the body. There are two types of food iron:
. Iron in the form of iron (Heme iron): This type is available only in animal foods and basically in red meat, and is more easily absorbed than non-iron.
. None – heme iron: Most of the iron is non-existent, available both in animal foods and in plant foods. Absorption of this type of iron can be enhanced with organic acids such as vitamin C, but along with plant compounds such as phytate, its absorption will decrease.
People who get iron too little on their diet are exposed to iron deficiency. Many have iron deficiency, especially women. In fact, iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency in the whole world.
Set up iron reserves
There are two reasons why iron levels are important in the body:
1. Iron is a nutritious substance that plays a role in many basic functions of the body, so we need to get enough of it.
2 Large amounts of iron are potentially toxic, so do not use too much of it.
By adjusting the amount of iron absorption through the digestive system, the body adjusts its level in the body. Hepcidin, the iron regulator of the body in the body, is responsible for maintaining balance in the body’s iron stores. The main function of this hormone is to prevent the absorption of iron in the body. The function of this hormone is as follows:
Increasing free iron levels in the body can increase the growth of bacteria and viruses, so much iron can have reverse effects and increase the risk of infection.
. High levels of iron> Increases in hepcidin levels> Reduces iron absorption
. Low iron stores> Reducing hexidine levels> Increasing iron absorption
Most of the time this system works well. But there are a few disorders that can inhibit the production of hepcidin and thus result in high levels of iron in the body. On the other hand, diseases that increase the production of hepcidin may cause iron deficiency.
Iron balance in the body is also affected by the amount of iron in the diet. Diets that have little iron can lead to iron deficiency over time. Also, high iron supplementation can cause severe toxicity.
Iron poisoning can be sudden or gradual. There will be serious problems with overdose of iron or long-term iron supplementation or chronic iron deficiency disorder in the body.
Under normal conditions, there is very little free iron in the bloodstream. Iron binds to proteins such as transferrin and thus prevents damage to the body. But poisoning with iron can significantly increase the amount of iron in the body. Free iron is a pro-oxidant (in contrast to antioxidants), and can damage the cells. Various illnesses can cause this.
. Iron Poisoning: Iron poisoning occurs when a person, usually children, overestimate iron supplementation.
. Hereditary hemochematosus: A genetic disorder that results in high levels of iron intake from food.
. African iron overdose: A type of iron overdose that is caused by high amounts of iron in foods and beverages. The disease was first observed in Africa.
If you are exposed to iron overdose, you can minimize the risk by following the following:
. Reduce the consumption of foods like red meat
. Regular blood donation
. Avoid consuming vitamin C along with iron-rich foods
. Do not use iron containers
Iron and the risk of cancer
Undoubtedly, excess iron in the body causes cancer, both in animals and in humans. It is known that regular donation of blood or loss of blood can reduce this risk.
Iron and infection risk
Both iron deficiency and high levels of iron accumulation in the body are susceptible to infection, which has two causes:
1. The immune system uses iron to destroy harmful bacteria, so some iron is needed to fight the infection.
2. Increased free iron levels in the body can increase the growth of bacteria and viruses, so much iron can be reversed and increase the risk of infection.
People with heritable hemocomatosis are also more susceptible to infections.