Ironing Out The Confusion About Iron
Why iron supplements are not the answer to workout fatigue o the physical demands of everyday life like your new workout routine have you succumbing to bouts of fatigue? Do you feel driven to—along with your energy shake, protein powder, and multiple vitamins—supplement your diet with a little extra iron to keep up?
You are not alone. Many people bring supplemental iron into their daily nutrition equation after adding a workout plan. It makes sense. After all, iron is the mineral supplement that builds red blood cells and boosts energy.
However, the assumption that lack of energy, lingering fatigue, and late-day sluggishness after normal activity always points toward an iron deficiency is not accurate—and sometimes leads to bigger problems. Self-treatment with iron supplements at the first sign of fatigue risks triggering the sometimes life-threatening danger of iron overload. Health journalist and author Bill Sardi believes iron can build up to the point of toxicity and disrupt the body’s delicate metabolic machinery.
MORE ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER
While iron is absolutely necessary to sustain life, biochemical disturbances can occur when the system becomes overwhelmed with more iron than it can handle. For example, iron overload has been implicated as a causative factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, liver malfunction, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, epilepsy, heart attack or failure, hyperthyroidism, hypogonadism (dysfunction of ovaries in women and testes in men), multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, and premature death. Why? Iron overload upsets normal metabolic function, making any excess iron perfect food for bacteria, fungi, tumor cells, and viruses.
HOW DOES IRON OVERLOAD HAPPEN?
Iron’s main fuction is to work with the mineral copper to make hemoglobin. It is involved with the entire respiratory process that produces biological energy—without which, life couldn’t sustain itself. Usually bound to certain proteins, iron sits at the center of each hemoglobin molecule, which carries