TalkSport article Iron is an essential nutrient, but is it good for your health?
Iron supplements are the only supplement that are approved for humans to take and many manufacturers claim that they contain iron, but the evidence is mixed.
There are a number of problems with this assertion, such as the fact that the only studies available in humans suggest that iron is not essential for human health.
A recent review published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that iron deficiency is not a risk factor for breast cancer, heart disease, stroke or diabetes.
There is also no evidence that iron supplements are helpful for people with heart disease.
A recent review of research by the Cochrane Collaboration, a global network of experts in health research, concluded that iron intake in humans is unlikely to be harmful, although there is some evidence that some supplements may have the potential to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The authors said that they were ‘confident’ that the evidence of a causal link between iron and cardiovascular disease was ‘very strong’.
However, the Cochlear review also found that the effects of iron on heart health are less clear and it is likely that people taking a high dose of iron supplements have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Dr. James Hill of the Institute of Cardiovascular Research at Imperial College London, who has been investigating the health effects of high doses of iron, said the research that has been done so far does not necessarily support a link between dietary iron and heart disease or cancer.’
People who are consuming a high amount of iron are likely to have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer,’ he told the BBC.
‘So we would need to look at the evidence from a whole range of different studies to determine if iron is harmful.’
Iron supplements in the U.K.
Iron supplements have been used by many athletes and celebrities, including Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, to enhance their endurance and strength.
They are also used to help reduce the risk and symptoms of osteoporosis and to boost their metabolism.
Dr Hill, however, said that the information on whether iron supplements cause heart disease is lacking.
‘If we are not looking at all the evidence, it’s not clear what the causal relation is between iron supplementation and cardiovascular events,’ he said.
Dr Hernan Hernández, a cardiologist at Imperial University, has studied the effects on heart and liver disease of dietary iron supplements and concluded that there is not enough evidence to say that iron supplementation is harmful.
‘The results of this study have not been consistent, but there’s enough evidence for a causal relationship between dietary supplementation with iron and increased risk for chronic cardiovascular diseases,’ he explained.
‘This is consistent with the results of other studies.’
Theoretically, there is an increase in blood cholesterol and triglycerides, but it’s unclear how that could be related to heart disease,’ he added.
Dr Alana Smith, a senior lecturer in preventive medicine at Imperial, said there is evidence that high doses are more likely to lead to a reduction in the amount of calcium that is absorbed from the diet, which can be harmful.’
It is very important to know how much calcium is being taken in a daily diet,’ she told the British Medical Journal.
‘I’m not aware of any studies that have looked at the relationship between vitamin D and heart attack risk or stroke.’