DR. C’S MEDICINE CABINET: THE BENEFITS OF “IRON”

Iron is the most common element, by weight, on earth, so it should come as no surprise that it has evolved to be an essential component in the mechanism that is life.

The ENERGY of the eukaryotic cell is dependent on the Iron in mitochondria, which are elaborate electron-transfer mechanisms. To quote Nobel Laureate Albert Szent Gyorgyi, “Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place of rest”.

Iron is essential, so it is possible to have too little of it. There is no physiologic pathway to get rid of it and so you can have too much iron in your body, which comprises a disease called Hemochromatosis. Excessive Iron can be TOXIC to the body, and produce damaging free radicals.

Deficiency of iron will produce ANEMIA. Regulation of incoming Iron is the body’s way of keeping excessive Iron out. It is absorbed only in the upper part of the small intestine, and a special protein called Hepcidin can block it from release into the circulation. It is carried through the blood by Transferrin and also Ferritin, which stores the iron that is not in the hemoglobin of RED BLOOD CELLS, the main storehouse of iron.

Blood loss is a common problem which leads to increased Iron requirement, This is reflected in the increase in RDA of Iron in Women during their menstruating years. Colonic Cancer, among other conditions, can also bleed and lead to the anemia of Iron deficiency. This is the reason for Doctors ordering a test for “occult”, or hidden, blood in the stools. My reason for taking Iron is a continuing loss of blood from the small intestine.

I have had multiple colonoscopies and Gastroenteroscopies to rule out cancer and other blood-losing conditions in the lower and upper intestinal tract. The small intestine is the “silent” area to gastroenterologists, and I cannot have the Capsule/camera examination because of my small bowel surgery.

I must take extra iron, and hope that this will be sufficient to keep me from developing anemia again. Green vegetables and red meat are more satisfactory sources, but insufficient for me. I worry a little about the recent finding that Heart Failure has been associated with Ferritin levels below 100 ng./ml.

I struggle to keep mine at 50 ng. by taking 2 tablets of feosol daily and dealIng with the subsequent constipation. An ANNUAL PHYSICAL and laboratory examination is important for the maintenance of health. Enough Iron and blood are important factors for vigorous Well-being. —

–Dr. C.

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