Iron is an essential mineral in the diet and is a crucial component of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Dietary iron is present in two forms, heme iron, and non-heme iron. Heme iron is bound within a ring-shaped molecule called porphyrin. It is found mainly in red meat, whereas non-heme iron is found in plants and animals, and its absorption is aided by vitamin C.

The hormone hepcidin regulates the body’s balance of iron. The function of hepcidin is to suppress the absorption of iron. When the body’s iron stores are high, levels of hepcidin increase and iron absorption decreases. When iron stores are low, iron absorption increases. For this reason, it is uncommon to suffer from too much iron in the diet. However, there are some situations where iron toxicity or iron overload can occur.

Iron Toxicity

Iron toxicity can be caused by taking high doses of iron supplements for prolonged periods or taking a single overdose. Single doses as low as 10 to 20 mg/kg can cause some symptoms of iron toxicity. Medical attention is required at doses greater than 40 mg/kg, and more than 60 mg/kg can be lethal.

Excessive iron can be damaging to the gastrointestinal system. Symptoms of iron toxicity include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Over time, iron can accumulate in the organs and cause fatal damage to the liver or brain. Toxic cellular effects occur as well. Oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial function can be hindered by large amounts of iron, leading to the death of cells. Iron toxicity primarily affects the liver, but other organs and the blood may also be affected.

Metabolic acidosis occurs due to fluid loss, dilation of the blood vessels, and an anaerobic metabolism due to inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation. Here are some signs that you’re getting too much iron.

Abdominal Pain

It is not uncommon for our diet to cause pains in our abdomen. There are certain foods that some people need to avoid to prevent abdomen pains. This, in itself, is not likely to make you think you have too much iron in your body, so it will often be overlooked as a stand-alone symptom. While it may be easy to ignore abdominal pain to begin with, you should arrange to see a medical professional if the sign continues for too long. Likewise, you should also get help if the pain is particularly severe. It may turn out to be nothing, but it is still a good idea to get it checked out.

Physical Weakness

Our physical strength is provided by our strong skeleton and muscles that help move the various parts of our bodies. Together, they can help us perform some impressive feats, especially in people who exercise a lot. If you were to have too much iron in your blood, though, then you could start feeling a lot weaker than usual. Physical weakness is a relatively common symptom of having too much iron on the body. You’ll have difficulty performing tasks that are otherwise easy for them. The good news is that the patient should restore their full strength after the underlying problem has been solved.

Joint Pain

Aches and pains in our joints are not unusual, especially for people who are getting older. They will usually pass within a day or two with no permanent damage being done. Such aches and pains are not always so benign, though, and they can sometimes be a sign of having too much iron in the body. Having too much iron in the body can lead to inflammatory arthritis, which is a condition that causes the joints to become inflamed, and this can be pretty painful for the patient. The patient can also find that their mobility is restricted due to the condition.


Our bodily system usually runs smoothly thanks to our organs that are hard at work every day. It is essential to keep these organs in good condition to help ensure the rest of the body can operate smoothly. If these organs are affected somehow, the body may no longer function as well as it usually would. When there is too much iron in the blood, the iron can start to accumulate in our organs. This affects their ability to function, which can lead to us feeling fatigued. The patient might feel tired all of the time, no matter how much rest they might be getting.


Diabetes is a condition in which the patient cannot regulate the levels of sugar in their blood. It is often an inherited condition, while it can also develop at some point in the patient’s lifetime. It can also be caused by having too much iron in the system. Having too much iron in the body can begin to affect the performance of our organs. Iron overload can affect how our body uses insulin, which helps us control how much sugar is flowing through our blood. It is a potentially serious condition, and patients will need to be careful about what they eat.

Liver Failure

Our liver performs several essential functions in our body. Among other things, it is responsible for filtering blood that has come directly from the digestive system. The clean blood will then go onto the rest of the body, full of nutrition but without toxins. If our liver failed, we would soon be in trouble as we cannot live without one. It is crucial that we look after it, and this can mean not having too much iron in your body. Too much of the metal can accumulate in the liver, and this can cause it to fail.

Iron is a mineral that we have evolved to become reliant on. Oxygen has an affinity to the metal, meaning it will attach itself, enabling oxygen molecules to be transported around the body. However, as essential as iron is, you can have too much of it in the body. If you feel any of these symptoms, check with a medical professional and figure out the best action plan.

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