Tags: iron | ferritin | vitamin C | immunity

Iron: A Double-Edged Sword

By Wednesday, 21 January 2015 04:12 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Iron is important for proper immune function as a support for white blood cell reproduction and generation of microorganism-killing factors.
However, a person should never take iron during an active infection because infectious organisms actually use the iron to reproduce.
Indeed, studies have shown that iron injections during major infections can lead to serious complications, even death because the iron stimulates growth of the invading microorganisms.
It is a good idea to have an iron panel blood test — including measures of total iron, transferrin, and ferritin — performed while you are healthy. Total iron levels should be between 75 and 120 mcg/dl. This is the same for both men and women.
Ferritin levels should be between 25 to 75 ng/ml for both men and women.
Because giving iron supplements during active infections can worsen the infection, it is important to detect low iron levels and correct deficiencies before infections strike.
The best source for an iron supplement is carbonyl iron, which does not cause stomach upset or constipation and is well absorbed. After supplementing for two weeks, one should repeat the iron panel tests to see if the levels are in the right range. If they are, stop supplementation.
Iron loss in females is most often associated with menstrual periods. For those women who experience heavy periods, regular checks of iron levels may be necessary. This should be done once every two months until iron levels stabilize.
People who drink a lot of black tea can become iron-deficient because the flavonoids in tea strongly bind iron in supplements and foods, preventing absorption. Phytates in cereals can also strongly bind iron and lead to deficiency.
Some people have great difficulty correcting iron deficiencies, despite taking high-dose iron supplements. This can be caused by poor absorption of the supplement, flavonoids blocking iron absorption, or chronic gastrointestinal disorders that interfere with absorption.
Taking vitamin C with the iron dramatically increases absorption and overcomes the iron-blocking effect of flavonoids.
People with high iron levels, especially those who have hemochromatosis (a condition in which the body absorbs too much iron from food), are at a greater risk of immune abnormalities and out-of-control infections.
High iron levels can be lowered using a product called IP6, which boosts cellular immunity and binds iron, even removing it from tissues.
It is also important to avoid taking vitamin C with meals if you already have high iron levels, as this will increase iron absorption. Vitamin C should always be taken on an empty stomach.
Drinking tea with your meals will also reduce iron absorption from vegetables such as spinach.

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Iron is important for proper immune function. However, a person should never take iron during an active infection because infectious organisms actually use the iron to reproduce.
iron, ferritin, vitamin C, immunity
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 04:12 PM
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