Is Too Much Iron Harmful For Us?
Iron makes up 5% of the earth crust and is found in more places than you may think, such as vehicles, medical equipment, food and even in your drinking water. This material is everywhere we look and can have some beneficial properties when ingested, however, can too much of it be harmful? This article will help you learn a bit more about iron and whether it can be damaging to your body.
Why Do We Need Iron?
Iron is a necessary mineral needed in the body as it is responsible for the production of haemoglobin. This is a protein found in red blood cells, helping transport oxygen around your body as well as supporting your immune system too.
A key symptom of an iron deficiency is tiredness and lethargy, some people may develop a lower immunity and in other cases, you can be diagnosed with long or short term anaemia This means your iron levels are so low that you can get heart palpitations, become short of breath and develop pale skin.
Ideally, you want to ensure that as a 19-50 year old woman, you get 14.8mg of iron in your diet per day. However, as a man or woman aged over 50, you only need 8.7mg. Women are much more likely to become anaemic than men, this is because during their menstrual period they can loose around 1mg of iron per day, therefore, their daily intake of needs to be much higher.
What Are Some Iron Dense Foods?
Shellfish are naturally high in iron, especially clams, oysters and mussels. For example, 100 grams of clams has up to 3mg of iron. The iron in shellfish is called heme iron; this type of iron is absorbed much easier than non-heme iron, which is found in plants.
Spinach is another excellent source of iron, 100 grams of this will contain approximately 2.7mg of iron. Even though this has non-heme iron in it and isn’t absorbed as well, it is packed with vitamin C which allows you to absorb iron better.
Liver and other organ meats such as kidneys, brains and hearts may not be everyone’s first choice; however, a 100 grams serving of beef liver will have around 6.5mg of iron, which is over double that of the shellfish or spinach. As well as being filled with iron, these meats are packed with other nutrients such as vitamins A & B.
Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, beans and peas are a great source of iron, especially for vegetarians. In 100 grams of cooked lentils, there are about 3.3 grams of iron. These Legumes are also packed full of all kinds of nutrients that are great for the body.
Dark chocolate is a great sweet treat to include on the list as it is surprisingly packed with iron. In just 28 grams, there are 3.4 grams of iron. In this serving size, it is also packed with 56% of your copper daily intake and 15% of magnesium.
What Happens if You Have Too Much Iron?
If you ingest over 20mg of iron per day, whether this is through food, supplements or water, you will develop uncomfortable symptoms such as stomach aches, nausea/vomiting or constipation. These may not be harmful to the average adult, but too much iron could be toxic or fatal for young children.
The amount of iron in food is a bit easier to determine than the amount in water, however, the presence of iron in drinking water will not be a health hazard. Usually, the level of iron in your drinking water will be too low to cause any issues.
Although having iron in your drinking water won’t cause any health issues, it can be an inconvenience. Too much iron in the water can affect the appearance making it look a bit rusty and can even make it taste a bit metallic too. As well as this, it could stain things it comes into contact with, including clothes, dishes and also leads to premature machinery failure as the iron builds up inside and rusts.
Can You Remove Iron From Your Drinking Water?
Iron can be removed from your water in the same way as calcium and magnesium, through a process called ion exchange. As well as this, filtration can also be used to remove the iron from the water. This process is best done by a professional as they can deliver a thorough service rather than a product you bought at a shop that may or may not work.
If you think that you may have too much iron in your drinking water, Pumping Solutions can help. We are able to take a look at your water supply and do whatever it takes to get it up to standards. Get in touch with our team on 01775 711960 or you can fill out our online contact form where you can speak to a member of our team.
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