It is generally acknowledged that the human body needs iron to remain healthy, but too much iron can be as harmful, if not more harmful, than too little iron. Ferritin is the protein complex that stores iron in the serum of the blood. An excess of iron can be a contributing factor to damage or death of cells. Iron toxicity is a serious problem in some people, but not all people are susceptible to excess iron in their blood system. One blood test that shows an elevated level of iron is an indicator of a problem, but additional blood tests should be done to see if the level varies over time or remains steady, thereby indicating that there really is iron overload.
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Reduce your intake of iron by avoiding foods rich in iron, such as red meat, fortified cereals and bread. Take vitamins or supplements that do not contain iron. Eat unleavened bread made with whole grains rather than processed white bread because phytic acid that is in whole grain flour will bind with the iron, preventing it from remaining in the blood. Avoid bread made with yeast because the phytic acid is destroyed by the yeast.
Donate blood several times a year, which according to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Medical Center is a possible way to lower the amount of iron in the blood or have specific volumes of blood removed as recommended by your physician to lower the iron content by a certain amount. Get a blood test done to detect the iron level and monitor how much the iron has decreased after blood donation or removal. Blood donations may become a common method to regulate iron levels in the future.
Get treated with chelator drugs such as desferrioxamine or EDTA that will bind up the excess iron and help remove it from the blood stream. Receive continuous monitoring by a physician while using chelation drugs since they can be dangerous and toxic if not used correctly.
Tips and warnings
- Choose processed foods with the lowest iron content, below 6 per cent of the daily recommended allowance.
- Do not consume too much vitamin C because it helps with the uptake of iron from foods.
- Do not take vitamin supplements that contain iron.
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