Too many iron supplements? The sign when you go the the toilet – it can ‘be fatal’
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The amount of iron you need differs between people. The NHS says that the amount of iron you need is 8.7mg a day for men over 18, 14.8mg a day for women aged 19 to 50, and 8.7mg a day for women over 50. Iron deficiency anaemia is treated with iron tablets prescribed by a GP and by eating iron-rich foods. The NHS says if blood tests show your red blood cell count is low, you’ll be prescribed iron tablets to replace the iron that’s missing from your body.
The body needs iron to make haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from your lungs to the organs and tissues throughout the body.
Without adequate levels of iron, the red blood cells can’t effectively carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. If you do not eat enough foods containing iron, your iron levels may be low.
The Department of Health and Social Care advises that people should be able to get all the iron they need by eating a varied and balanced diet.
Though most people can get all the iron they need through their diets, women who lose a lot of blood during their monthly period are at higher risk of iron deficiency anaemia and may need to take iron supplements.
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Moreover, some people will choose to take iron supplements if they are not getting enough from their diet.
Non-prescribable food supplements are available over-the-counter and can be taken if an adequate iron intake is not being achieved.
The NHS warns: “If you take iron supplements, do not take too much as this could be harmful.
”Nonetheless, taking 17mg or less a day of iron supplements ‘is unlikely to cause any harm’, and you should continue taking a higher dose if advised to by a GP.”
Holland & Barrett warns that in contrast to its benefits, like many other nutrients, iron can also harm our bodies.
It notes: “Our digestive systems naturally protect us from iron’s harmful effects by stopping us from absorbing too much.”
The NHS says that there are several potential consequences if you take too much iron, which would be over 20mg.
One sign may show up when you go to the toilet is constipation. You may also find that you are feeling sick, being sick or have stomach pain.
It says: “Very high doses of iron can be fatal, particularly if taken by children, so always keep iron supplements out of the reach of children.”
Some people may have haemochromatosis, an inherited condition where iron levels in the body slowly build up over many years.
This build-up of iron, known as iron overload, can cause unpleasant symptoms. If it is not treated, this can damage parts of the body such as the liver, joints, pancreas and heart.
Nonetheless, a low level of iron can also have negative effects, and complications may develop if the anaemia becomes severe and is not treated.
Many of the symptoms of iron deficiency can be mistaken for a normal part of the sometimes stressful lives we lead, such as tiredness and struggling to focus at work.
Iron anaemia symptoms include tiredness, shortness of breath, pale skin, and heart palpitations.
Treatment includes prescribed iron tablets and diet can play an important role in preventing and treating iron deficiency anaemia.
The richest source of iron in the diet includes meat and seafood and for this reason many vegans may suffer from an iron deficiency.
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