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Too much iron???

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Hi everyone.

So I know that there are different types of iron in different foods and that (I think) the type (I think it's the heme iron) in red meat is absorbed more efficiently than that in the other ( I believe its non-heme) type.

I am a huge lover of oatmeal. The oatmeal I eat is the instant quaker oatmeal - regular. It says on the package that it has 40% of your daily intake of iron. But I eat two packets at a time, and I sometimes eat two packets twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. But by then, that would be 160% of my daily intake of iron, PLUS any other iron I get from my daily diet (though I dont eat much red meat or legumes.

So, since Im assuming this is non-heme iron, do you think that it is dangerous to be consuming this amount of iron? Especially if its mostly non-heme, and probably not as efficiently absorbed?

Thank you!

Edited Jan 21 2008 14:36 by nycgirl
Reason: 1/11/08: Stickied; 1/21/08: Unstickied
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I asked a food science professor about over dosing on vitamins according to the RDAs, and his answer was to not worry about it, since the RDAs are very low--the minimum you need to survive, not the maximum you should ingest.

This is true. I dont know if it is true, but I have been told that getting too much iron can cause problems in the digestive system?

 thanks again :)

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You only need to worry about toxicity if you're taking iron supplements, which men should not take.
I dont think oatmeal would lead to an overdose. However yes you definately can have too much iron, the result being it stops the absorbtion of other vitamins in the body, therefore you could become ill, but i think you are safe.

thanks everyone for the input! Yup definetly not taking an iron supplements. I occasionally take a multivitamin, but I think it only has 5mg of iron, though I only take them on days I know I havent been able to eat enough or get all my nutrients.

 Just out of curiosity,does anyone know what level of iron intake could cause hemochromatosis? I doubt ill ever reach that point, but just interested.


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You should really find a new multivitamin if it really has iron in it. 5 mg of iron for a man is too much from a multivitamin.

It would probably take several times the RDA of 8mg for men every day for quite some time before problems would occur. 

This is true. But for 20 year old females, its 18mg, so its not as significant as that. And I hardly take them anymore anyway hahah.


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Sorry. I didn't realize you were a female.
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There is a medical condition where people take up too much Iron . Its hereditary. So if you do have this rare condition there are blood test to detect it. A person can only absorb so much Iron a day. And it is gradual, so people who need to restore quickly restore iron lost due to blood loss (bleeding as in heavy periods) might take slow release forms of Iron in a daily pill.

You don't get hemochromatosis just from eating too much iron in your food. You either have a genetic condition where your body can't process the iron so it just sits there accumulating, or else you have to have had a ton of blood transfusions in a short period of time, or lastly, if you're addicted to taking iron supplements and multivitamins and you overdo for a long period of time.

I know two people who had it - one had it genetically so it's incurable and she has to watch her diet like a hawk... and my uncle got it after he had leukemia (they gave him so many blood transfusions during his treatment that he was seriously overloaded... so then he had to have his blood taken out again once a month for a couple of years until his iron levels got back to normal. 

Actually heavy periods can cause anemia. I had not been to the doctor in years, and when I finally went I was so low another .5  or so and doctors would be thinking about a transfusion. I was 7.7. the norms are about 12.5 to 14.5 for females. ( the norms  are depend on population norms of a country, a country that is deficient in Iron in their diet, would have lower normals.).  They ran a battery of test(which I could have said would turn out normal, for I knew I had not been with a high Iron diet. (My periods WERE heavy). Anyway in two months of daily slow release Iron pills my Hemoglobin was up to 13. So it was entirely a case of very gradual lack of Iron replacement. Now I only take the Iron for about a week a month to stay normal.  There are two types of Iron pills out there. the more expensive is the slow release type. well worth the money if you find the other type upsets your stomach unless you have it with a meal. I finally roke down  and bought the more expensive type, because I was noticing I was ended up not taking the cheaper type because I could never remember to ake the pill in the middle of a meal.( I'm known in my family to have a cast Iron stomach- I'm not used to coddling my stomach!)
my 1iron level was about 11 for a while and the doctor told me to take a pii that had about 350% of my daily iron TWICE  a day for a couple months. but i felt that ways too much iron even if i was deficient. so i took it once for a few days. (5-6) and now take a multi-vitamin with iron in it. but i am vegan and don't eat very many high iron foods. (not because there aren't any vegan sources but because i don't plan my meals well enough.)

wow nvrmndtheb, that seems like a LOT of iron to be recommending. However, Im no doctor, so who am I to judge. But I suppose if youre vegan that would make sense.

Thanks to everyone for your input!

Okay, don't quote me on this, but I've read quite a bit about iron, because have some issues with that.  And from what I've read, we don't absorb nearly all of the iron we ingest.  Especially if it is a non-heme (ie fortified cereal, vegetables..anything but meat) source.  Honestly I think we're lucky if we absorb half.  So even if those oatmeal packets have 40%, you're probably only getting about 20% from it.  But read up on it.
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