Excess Body Iron in Elderly

Click to go to our Home Page


Although iron deficiency is common among younger adults throughout the world, a new study finds many elderly Americans may be experiencing a greater health risk in having excess iron in the body.

Prior studies have linked elevated iron levels with chronic conditions such as heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes. Researchers suggest that elderly people should first consult physicians about their nutritional needs before they think about supplementing their diets with iron.

The study looked at 1,016 elderly white volunteers from Framingham, Mass., ages 67 to 96, who consumed a typical Western diet. Three times as many of the volunteers had excess body iron than had iron deficiency. Men were twice as likely as women to have high iron levels. Given the generally adequate amount of iron in this elderly group, the physicians say the use of non-prescribed iron supplements could be detrimental. Sixteen percent of the volunteers were taking dietary supplements containing iron at the time. The researchers presented their findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.