is interesting considering
that my nurse didn't know what a ferritin test was.
Excess Iron Damages Blood Vessels
Although iron is an essential and important nutrient, excessive
levels can cause significant harm. A new study has shown
that excess iron can cause damage to the endothelium, the
inner lining of blood vessels, boosting a person's chances
of developing hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
and heart attack. The mechanism of action of this effect seems
to be that the high iron levels impede the action of nitric
oxide, a chemical released by the endothelium, which aids
in keeping blood vessels relaxed. According to study
lead investigator Dr. Hidehiro Matsuoka of Kurume Medical
School, consuming high amounts of iron over the long term
may increase iron levels in the body. He also said that people
should get regularly tested for high iron levels if they are
over 40 and have other risk factors for heart disease, such
as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Researchers injected 10 healthy volunteers with high doses
of iron (0.7 milligrams per kilogram body weight) and used
ultrasound imaging to observe arterial wall functioning.
The excess iron raised levels of malondialdehyde, a chemical
marker for oxidation, and inhibited normal endothelial function.
As a separate part of the study, researchers also monitored
the effects of lowering iron blood levels in 10 cigarette
smokers and found that this caused endothelial function to
return to normal. The study also could help to explain
why premenopausal women have less heart disease, since iron
is removed from the body each month during menstruation.
Meeting of the American Heart Association's Council
for High Blood Pressure Research October 2000 DR. MERCOLA'S
I have warned about the dangers of iron many times before
in this newsletter. It is a potentially dangerous supplement
and it needs to be used very cautiously, especially in those
with an increased risk of heart disease. I almost always run
a serum ferritin level on someone before I recommend going
on iron. Ferritin is an iron carrying protein and when
its levels drop below 20 that is a sign of iron deficiency.
I have seen ferritin levels as low as 2. Occasionally
ferritin will be greater than 20 and the person still may
Those with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis,
will have falsely elevated ferritin levels. Men are
more prone to iron overload since women lose some iron every
month through menstruation. Donating blood is an excellent
way to lower iron levels if needed. The best form of
iron, if it is required, is that obtained from red meat, as
it is the most highly available form for absorption.