Long Covid: Dr Chris gives advice on supplements to fight fatigue
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Early signs of an iron overdose, according to the Mayo Clinic, include diarrhoea, which may or may not contain blood, a fever, nausea, stomach pain and vomiting.
The reason why taking too much iron can be dangerous is not just because of the uncomfortable side effects, but because too much iron can be fatal, especially in children.
In terms of iron dosages, it is recommended that men over the age of 18 need 8.7mg a day while women between the ages of 19 and 50 need 14.8mg of iron per day.
Once women reach the age of 50 the recommended dose goes down to 8.7mg.
Women need more iron in their diet in order to make up for the amount of iron they lose during menstruation.
Better Health says: “Around 1 mg of iron is lost everyday of bleeding”.
While too much iron can be damaging to the body, and even fatal, too little can cause a condition known as iron deficiency anaemia.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia include tiredness, a lack of energy, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and pale skin.
There can be a number of reasons for the anaemia, some of which are gender specific and others not.
In women it could be because of a heavy period or pregnancy while in both genders it could be the result of an ulcer, blood loss or a lack of iron.
Once the cause has been identified a treatment can be administered as the treatment depends on the cause.
If a person’s red blood cell count is low, they’ll be prescribed iron tablets to compensate.
Alternatively, starting an iron rich diet may be suggested as this is the most effective way to increase levels of iron in the body.
Sources of iron include, liver, red meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, fortified breakfast cereals and soybean flour.
Not all of these should be consumed by all people; the NHS recommends that liver should be avoided during pregnancy.
The reason for this is the risk, albeit small, of a condition known as toxoplasmosis that causes flu like symptoms and can cause miscarriage in pregnant women.
Furthermore, liver is high in vitamin A that can cause harm to an unborn baby.
More information about what foods to avoid when pregnant can be found on the NHS website here.
The Department of Health and Social Care advises: “Most people should be able to get all the iron they need by eating a varied and balanced diet.”
On iron supplements they add: “Taking 17mg or less of iron supplements is unlikely to cause any harm. But continue taking a higher dose if advised to by a GP.”
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