Iron supplements: dosage and effects

Patient

Q: Based on some of my symptoms, I am thinking that it would be a good idea to take iron supplements. I was looking at information on iron supplements, and it seemed that I should not take more than 18 mg a day. One place I looked said not to take any more than 45 mg a day. The supplements I have are 65 mg, so would it be alright to just take them once a week or something? Or is it still dangerous to take iron in such large dosages?

Doctor

A:   Iron is an essential mineral for a number of important functions in the body, from haemoglobin production to keep a healthy immune system. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for a female between 19-24 years old is 18-15mgs/day. Some research studies have associated the high iron in the body with cancer and heart disease. There are also genetic abnormalities for excessive iron storage, for example Hemochromatosis. Excess of iron supplementation may contribute to hardening the arteries and reduce zinc absorption. Iron if taken too much over a period of time can produce liver damage, skin problems. In children the fatal dose of iron may be as little as 600mgs, so it is important to keep iron supplements out of the reach of children. It is better if Iron is taken between meal and with Vitamin C, which facilitates its absorption. It is not recommended take Iron with calcium, zinc or Vitamin E.

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