As much as we support supplement freedom in the U.S., there are some very questionable supplements on the market. Some are made from rocks, hair or metals. Iron can build up in the system and become toxic so we are going to have to wave them goodbye. We forget sometimes that iron is a heavy metal, after all. We need a little, not a lot.
According to a new study of cancer cells from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, two common iron compounds increase the formation of a known cancer biomarker.
The two compounds, ferric citrate and ferric EDTA, are often used in dietary supplements and as a food additive in the USA and the EU. They are commonly a part of fortified foods, but the types of iron used are rarely listed on supplement bottles or ingredients lists.
Currently, there are many different types of iron supplements on the market. These can be based on at least 20 different iron compounds, and sold under a wide range of brands.
Here, we talk about what iron does in the lab and what you can you do if you need more iron.
Chalmers University reported:
The researchers studied ferric citrate and ferric EDTA, which have both previously been shown to worsen tumour formation in mice with colon cancer. The science behind this has been little understood until now, and possible effects on human cells were not previously investigated.
The new study, which was in collaboration with the UK Medical Research Council and Cambridge University, looked at the effect of normal supplemental doses of these compounds on two types of cultured human colon cancer cells. As a comparison, they also measured the effects of ferrous sulphate, another very commonly available iron compound.
While ferrous sulphate had no effect, both ferric citrate and ferric EDTA caused an increase in cellular levels of amphiregulin, a biomarker for cancer. This was the case even at low doses.
Nathalie Scheers, Assistant Professor at Chalmers University of Technology, and lead writer on the study said:
We can conclude that ferric citrate and ferric EDTA might be carcinogenic, as they both increase the formation of amphiregulin, a known cancer marker most often associated with long-term cancer with poor prognosis.
Ferric sulphate is one of the most common iron compounds, but ferric citrate, which is said to be gentler for the stomach, is also widely used in supplements. It’s also more easily absorbed through foods such as granary bread, beans and nuts.
It is unclear at this time whether the researchers are cautioning against iron found in whole foods. It would appear to this writer that absorbing iron through a whole food diet is safe.
Iron rich foods to focus on in lieu of supplements:
- Spinach & dark leafy greens like curly kale
- Lentils and other legumes, pulses
- Grass-fed beef
- Raisins, dried apricots, prunes
- Brown rice
The person who needs more iron may want to reduce their coffee and green/black tea intake as these beverages can block iron absorption.
When you make a smoothie, use spinach as it takes on the taste of whatever fruit you use. Stuff as many handfuls as possible in the blender. By doing this each morning, I stopped my own hair loss! I figured it must be an iron issue – either way, it’s a non-issue now.
What to do if you need more iron!
First, I’m no medical professional, so always make informed decisions with the help of your preferred health practitioner. Never diagnose yourself, and get blood tests.
But if an iron supplement is necessary, a well-informed consumer would do better to choose a plant-based iron supplement such as Gaia Herbs liquid iron. Again, run this by your doctor and print out this study for him/her.
Age-Old Iron Remedy, AKA, “Pregnancy Tea”
Organic, unsulphured blackstrap molasses is an age-old remedy, especially for the anemic or pregnant woman.
Prepare hot water for tea.
- 1 TBS of molasses
- Hot water
Stir molasses into the hot water. May use peppermint tea bag to offset the flavor. Sip.
Some people just take it by the spoonful. Molasses is the “waste” byproduct of sugar production and is loaded with minerals and vitamins, and is the lowest sugar “sugar product.” This tea can make up to 30% of the daily recommended intake of iron. It’s not something medical doctors talk about too much but it is a popular remedy on the Internet.
A lot of women who suffer from female issues such as heavy menstruals and/or fibroids report better results from this remedy, at least when it comes to obvious iron loss. Caution: the sugar sensitive person may wish to give this remedy a pass, however, some people report better blood sugar after using.
More Importantly – If You Need More Iron, You Must Do This…
Add liposomal, non-soy vitamin C to your stock if you need more iron. Vitamin C is crucial for the body to absorb iron from food. It boosts the immune system to ward off viral activity that may be contributing to mineral depletion. It is so important for the anemic person to get lots of vitamin C along with a healthy form of vitamin B12.
First, we must bear in mind that the study was done on human cancer cells cultured in the laboratory, since it would be unethical to do it in humans. But, the possible mechanisms and effects observed still call for caution. They must be further investigated.
At the moment, people should still follow recommended medical advice. As a researcher, I cannot recommend anything – that advice needs to come from the authorities. But speaking personally, if I needed an iron supplement, I would try to avoid ferric citrate.
Other than that, Sheers wouldn’t offer any more advice. Her emphasis is on differentiating between different forms of iron. “We need to consider that different forms can have different biological effects,” she concluded.
There you have it, some important news about supplements and what to do instead if you need more iron.
This article was originally published by Natural Blaze