Hyperferritinemia and nutrition

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Hyperferritinemia, some eating habits can contribute to iron excess

Excess iron in the blood oxidizes the tissues of the various organs and causes premature degeneration of the body, thus making the bed of many diseases (obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes). Big strokes of fatigue, darker complexion, skin that darkens at the level of the folds of the hand, are the most common manifestations and appear progressively. This dysfunction can be the consequence of a disease of genetic origin, hematochromatosis but can also trigger after menopause. Ferritin can also be increased in cases of chronic alcoholism, hyperthyroidism, end-stage renal disease, inflammatory diseases, certain neoplasias, Still or Gaucher's disease (rarer), cataracts and some eating habits, which can be modified.

Decrease iron intake:

  • Recommended nutritional intakes of iron are 10 mg / d for men and menopausal women, and 18 mg / d for women of childbearing age.
  • It is thus necessary to limit the iron intake contained in certain foods: red wine, black pudding, offal (liver, heart, kidneys), cooked shellfish (mussels, oysters, crabmeat), some fish, eggs, molasses, yeasts, dried fruits (hazelnuts, almonds), dried vegetables, dishes containing offal such as liver pâté and sausage of liver pâté.
  • Also beware of iron-fortified foods such as cereals, flours, powdered beverages, sports drinks, baby milk drinks, energy bars as well as some fruit juices and sugars.
  • Iron "contaminant" can be found in water or also come from kitchenwares: rather prefer tools in stainless steel, glass or ceramic. Consider controlling the iron rate of water especially if you draw water from a well for personal consumption. You can check with your town hall (in France) the measures concerning the iron content, contained in city water.

Reduce alcohol consumption * :

Any alcoholic beverage must be banned, especially in case of hemochromatosis. Excessive alcohol consumption leads to an increase in the synthesis of ferritin, which hyperferritinemia can be greater than 1000 μg / L in chronic alcoholics.

Limit the consumption of some vitamins :

  • Vitamin C contributes to the absorption of iron by helping its transformation at the gastric level (iron +++), so that it can be absorbed by the intestine. Fruits and vegetables, rich in vitamin C, should be consumed 2 or 3 hours before or after the meal in order to reduce the accelerating power of iron absorption of vitamin C. Beware of most tonics and multivitamin drinks containing iron and vitamin C.
  • Vitamin A ** and beta-carotene improve the absorption of non-heme iron. Avoid as much as possible animal products such as liver, meat, fish, whole milk (skimmed milk is enriched with vitamin A), butter, eggs and cheeses. Beta-carotene (provitamin A) is supplied by some vegetables and fruits that contain large quantities : carrots, apricots, mangoes, dark green vegetables, sweet potatoes, parsley.

A trace element to decrease absorption of heme iron :

Calcium is the only substance that inhibits the absorption of heme iron, the better iron absorbed by the body. Dairy products are the first source but attention to the vitamin A they contain. Instead, prefer vegetal milks, such as almond, rice or hazelnut milk.

Molecules acting on non-heme iron :

  • Phenolic acids, in addition to their antioxidant properties, have the ability to inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron. They are found mainly in coffee and fresh fruit, especially in the skin of apples, rich in quercetin.
  • The same applies to polyphenols ***, which are found in coffee, herbal teas or soy sprouts. Tannins are polymerized polyphenols found in tea and cocoa: tea inhibits 70 to 90% of the absorption of non-heme iron. You can cook your rice or pasta in water mixed with tea: a large part of the iron will be eliminated in the cooking water.
  • Phytates are found in whole grain products, wholemeal flour, corn, whole rice, whole wheat but also in green beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, potatoes and soy sprouts. Be careful not to soak dried vegetables and cereals before cooking because their phytates content is then decreased. Also avoid oleaginous fruits and roasted cereals which are thus depleted in phytate.
  • Oxalates are found in many products, including spinach, sorrel, rhubarb, parsley, strawberries or chocolate. However, do not abuse it, because a high consumption may present a risk of renal lithiasis.
  • And always think of consulting your doctor or nutritionist, in case of increased ferritin, its consequences can be serious because of its multiple implications on the human body.

* Moirand R, Lescoat G, Delamaire D, Loréal O, Deugnier Y, Brissot P. Increase of glycosylated and non glycosylated serum ferritin in chronic alcoholism and evolution durind alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1991;15:963-9.
** Vitamine A Garcia-Casal MN, Layrisse M, Solano L, Baron MA, Arguello F,Llovera D, Ramirez J, Leets I, Tropper E. Vitamin A and beta-carotene canimprove nonheme iron absorption from rice, wheat and corn by humans. JNutr 1998 Mar;128(3):646-50

*** Polyphenols Layrisse M, Garcia-Casal MN, Solano L, Baron MA, Arguello F,Llovera D, Ramirez J, Leets I, Tropper E. New property of vitamin A and beta-carotene on human iron absorption: effect on phytate and polyphenols asinhibitors of iron absorption. Arch Latinoam Nutr 2000 Sep;50(3):243-8.


Marie-Christine LANGGUTH CUEVA
Naturopathe - Iridologue - Nutrithérapie
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