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Monday, March 10, 2014
Most foods contain at least some iron, but there are things you can do to reduce your body's absorption of this essential mineral if necessary.
However, before you make any changes to your diet, it's important that you be sure to follow the treatment plan provided by your medical care team. High iron levels are caused by a medical condition, such as hereditary hemochromatosis, so any general guidance offered in a forum like this should be reviewed by health professionals familiar with your specific condition before you begin adopting new behaviors.
That said, trying to eliminate iron from the diet is not usually recommended as an effective method of controlling excess iron stores in the body. Foods that contain iron also provide other essential elements that help heal and rebuild the body. If you try to eliminate iron, then you'll also be eliminating a lot of other nutrients that your body needs.
But you can take some steps to reduce how much iron your body absorbs:
The National Institutes of Health has a fact sheet, Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron, that offers detailed information that may be helpful. But again, keep in mind that even that information should not replace other treatment protocols you may receive from your medical care team.
Ironically, iron deficiency is a much more common problem than iron overload. In fact, as much as 80% of the world's population may be iron deficient, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the United States. People with low iron can do the opposite of the above guidance (consume more vitamin C, avoid drinking tea, eat more meat) to build up iron stores.
This article originally appeared in Chowline, a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2009.
Last Reviewed: Jul 17, 2009
Julie Kennel, PhD, RD, CSSD, LD
Director of Human Nutrition Dietetic Internship
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University