--Iron is needed for making red blood cells and for carrying oxygen from our lungs to all parts of the body. When we are low in iron, we are susceptible to fatigue and lowered immunity. BUT taking iron supplements can be dangerous. It is not water-soluble like Vitamin C, where your body pees out the excess. Excess iron stays in your liver and other organs, leading to problems like heart disease.
--Iron is a "pro-oxidant," which means that it can act like a free radical and attack your cells if taken in large doses (free radicals are things like toxins and pollutants that we are exposed to). Free radical damage can lead to cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
--I've read in one of my health books that if you want to take an iron supplement, don't use multivitamins that include iron. There are many multivitamins on the market that say "No Iron" or "Without Iron." Then, if you must supplement, take iron BY ITSELF at the opposite time of day that you take your multivitamin, and with a bit of Vitamin C if possible, like with a glass of OJ, because a little Vitamin C increases absorption of iron. Since iron can act like a pro-oxidant, it can negate the benefits (or compete with) of all of the antioxidants in your multi, like Vitamins A, C, E, and selenium! So let your antioxidants work at full strength and remember to take iron by itself during another time of the day!
--Men usually don't have to take ANY iron supplements, and they'll be just fine. (Not fair!)
--If you are a big meat eater and/or eat a lot of iron-fortified cereal, you probably are getting enough iron and DON'T need a supplement.
--If anyone does supplement with iron, it is imperative to get a blood test every year (or more frequently!) so your doctor can monitor you closely. Some people develop a condition called hemochromatosis, which can cause an excessive absorption of iron, leading to organ damage, heart disease, cancer, etc, which is why it is so important to be monitored.
--Less irritating to the digestive tract are iron in these forms: Iron Glycinate, Iron Fumarate, and Iron Gluconate
--Vitamin C, although an antioxidant, INCREASES the absorption of iron. Eat foods with iron and Vitamin C together.
--The following is from The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book by Shari Lieberman, Ph.D, CNS, FACN
"Optimal" level of iron supplementation:
Chronic Fatigue: 15-20 mg per day
Iron Deficiency Anemia: 20-30 mg per day
Poor attention span: 15-20 mg per day
FOODS THAT CONTAIN IRON: (In order of most iron to least iron) Meat, especially liver, poultry, fish, eggs, breads and cereals (whole grain or iron-enriched), leafy vegetables, potatoes, other vegetables, fruit, and milk.
---End of book reference---
*****I've been using blackstrap molasses recently, which has 20% daily recommended intake of iron per tablespoon*****Also BEANS and LEGUMES have a lot of iron in them, anywhere from 15%-30% of the recommended daily intake; I eat lots of beans and legumes daily.*****Also, I supplement with 18mg of iron glycinate ONLY DURING THE WEEK OF MY PERIOD, and I get a blood test each year!*****