Q:

Is too much iron in the blood harmful?

A:

Quick Answer

Too much iron in the blood is harmful because excess iron can accumulate in vital organs, such as the heart, pancreas and liver, according to WebMD. This can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes, cirrhosis and heart failure.

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Full Answer

Hemochromatosis, also called iron storage disease, is a condition where the body absorbs too much iron, eventually causing harmful iron build-up in organs and tissues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to liver cancer, patients with hemochromatosis may experience arrhythmia and skin discoloration if the condition is left untreated.

Hemochromatosis can be hereditary and sometimes develops due to chronic liver disease that causes the body to absorb extra loads of iron, according to Medical News Today. Hemochromatosis sufferers should avoid eating red meat and foods high in vitamin C to prevent further increases in iron levels.

Taking excessive amounts of iron supplements can cause nausea, diarrhea, dark stools and constipation. A normal adult, without iron deficiency, should not take more than 45 milligrams of iron a day, according to WebMD. For children, overdosing with iron can lead to severe vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dehydration and even death. Iron supplements should be kept out of reach of children.

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