Essential Vitamins – Express Health
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Most of the goodness your body needs can be found in the foods you eat. Supplementation is not necessary, unless you are prone to a particular deficiency. In fact, taking supplements can incur serious health problems.
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), you should “avoid” supplements with iron.
This metal can “harm” brain health, warns the PCRM.
“Consume iron supplements only when directed by your physician.”
How cautious should you be?
Iron is a vital component of blood; it helps to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of our body.
Increasing levels of iron in the brain is a known feature of ageing and some diseases of the brain.
This has raised concerns that changes in iron levels could increase a person’s risk of dementia.
“There is conflicting evidence as to whether changes in blood iron levels increase a person’s risk of developing dementia, but researchers have discovered a relationship between increased iron in the brain and a worsening of symptoms,” reports Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Other health bodies have also raised concerns, but are similarly reluctant to draw conclusions.
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“The current research shows that there is likely to be a relationship between naturally-occurring metals and the development or progression of Alzheimer’s disease, says the Alzheimer’s Society (AS).
The AS continues: “It is also unclear whether reducing metals in the brain via drugs or reducing our exposure would have any effect.
“These metals are essential to the healthy function of our brain, so further research into changes before or during disease development is also necessary to understand if reducing the amount in the brain would actually be beneficial.”
How much iron do I need?
According to the NHS, 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
- 8.7mg a day for women over 50.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), most people should be able to get all the iron they need by eating a varied and balanced diet.
“If you take iron supplements, do not take too much as this could be harmful,” warns the DHSC.
According to the organisation, taking 17mg or less a day of iron supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.
“But continue taking a higher dose if advised to by a GP.”
What happens if I take too much?
Side effects of taking high doses (over 20mg) of iron include:
- Feeling sick
- Being sick
- Stomach pain.
“Very high doses of iron can be fatal, particularly if taken by children, so always keep iron supplements out of the reach of children,” warns the NHS.
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