Iron is an essential nutrient that supports the function of the immune system, cardiovascular system, healthy blood, and much more.
Food and some supplements are a good source of iron. But for certain people, ingesting too much iron may result in a negative health condition.
While this isn’t true for everyone, you may be curious to know why some supplements are labeled as “iron-free.” Keep reading to find out the answer.
Risks of Too Much Iron
Several risk factors may increase your chances of suffering the negative health effects of consuming iron. The most common cause of “iron overload” (Hemochromatosis) may result from genetics that causes the body to store too much iron in the liver, heart, pancreas, and other organs. For people with this genetic condition, even normal amounts of iron can result in a problem.
Men and people of Northern European descent are also at risk. If a parent or sibling has an iron disorder, you are more likely to develop the same disorder. Women, however, may have a lower risk because they lose iron through menstruation and pregnancy, and are also thought to store less iron than men.
But what causes people to ingest too much iron? Here are some of the most common causes:
- Iron poisoning – Caused by ingesting too much iron, typically from a supplement; children have a higher risk of these overdoses. If a child has consumed any amount of your supplements or other products seek medical attention immediately.
- Hereditary hemochromatosis – This genetic disorder results in the body absorbing too much iron from food.
- African iron overload – Caused by iron leaching from iron cookware when preparing food or drink. The name comes from sub-Saharan Africa where populations drink a traditional fermented beverage made in iron pots, resulting in frequent health issues.
A healthy adult that consumes too much iron over time may experience the following symptoms:
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of sex drive
- Heart failure
- Liver failure
Only a doctor can tell you if you need to reduce or increase your iron levels. If your iron levels are high and you currently take a supplement containing iron, then you may need to switch to an iron-free product. Read about these products below.
If you’re looking for an iron-free nutritional supplement, you may consider choosing from the below selection, which is ordered by price from lowest to highest.
- Clinical Nutrients HP by Integrative Therapeutics
- Klean Multivitamin from Klean Athlete
- One Daily Tab without Iron by Innate Response
Check out each of the above options to find the formula that is right for your needs.
Recommended Iron Intake
For people who have concerns about their iron intake, follow the National Institutes of Health guidelines for iron intake.
- 7-12 months: 11 mg
- 1-3 years: 7 mg
- 4-8 years: 10 mg
- 9-13 years: 8 mg
- 14-18 years: 11/15/27/10 mg (male/ female/ pregnant women/ lactation)
- 19-50 years: 8/18/27/9 mg (male/ female/ pregnant women/ lactation)
- 51+ years: 8 mg
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best ways to meet your daily iron requirements. If you have an iron deficiency, then taking a supplement with iron may be ideal.
Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, supplement dosage, or if you have any concerns about your overall health. Remember that iron is important to the health of your body, so don’t cut it out completely. However, for some people, iron-free supplements and other lifestyle changes may be important to managing overall iron levels.