From Dr. Mercola:
One in 3 reading this likely has a serious overload of a mineral that may be more dangerous to your health than lack of vitamin D. That mineral is iron.
Making matters worse, few physicians fully appreciate the danger of excess iron, which Gerry Koenig, former chairman of the Iron Disorders Institute (IDI) and the Hemochromatosis Foundation, discusses in this interview. Koenig’s personal story is a powerful illustration of what can happen to someone with excess iron.
Approaching his 50th birthday, he’d lost a lot of weight, worked out, and felt healthy. By age 55, he was in good shape, but he did drink more than recommended. Eventually, during a physical exam, he found out his liver enzymes were high.
“The doctor recommended I stop drinking,” Koenig says. “I stopped drinking. But I got sick again … Turned out I had hemolytic anemia. My red blood cells were breaking down.
I didn’t know what that meant, nor, apparently, did my doctor. They never tested my iron … Finally I had an episode where I went to the hospital. I had encephalopathy, a pretty serious condition … They said I would need a new liver.
I didn’t get an iron test until the eve of my liver transplant in 2005 … By chance I ran across a Scientific American article. It described something called hemochromatosis, which I didn’t know anything about. I decided I would have the test.
As it turns out, I have a single gene for one of the variants for hemochromatosis — C282Y. Because of that, I decided to look into it more and started researching it … I’ve been doing that for the last 11 years.”
Are You at High Risk for Iron Overload?
Most all adult men and non-menstruating women have damaging levels of iron. However, there is a genetic disorder called hemochromatosis which causes your body to accumulate excessive and dangerously damaging levels of iron.
If left untreated, it can damage your organs and contribute to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and many other disorders.
The good news is iron overload is easy and inexpensive to treat. By monitoring your serum ferritin and/or gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) levels, avoiding iron supplements and donating blood on a regular basis, you can avoid serious health problems.
Sadly, many doctors are severely underinformed about iron overload. Hence the problem tends to go undetected.
How High Is Too High?
The serum ferritin test measures your stored iron. I strongly recommend all adults to get your iron tested (serum ferritin test) on an annual basis. I believe iron overload is every bit as dangerous to your health as vitamin D deficiency.
Just don’t make the mistake of going by what’s considered “normal.”1 In some labs, a level of 395 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) falls within the normal range, which is FAR too high for optimal health. In reality, you’re virtually guaranteed to develop disease at that level.