How Is Iron Absorbed In The Human Body: Is More Better?
As naturopaths and nutritionists, we’re often asked about iron supplementation and if more iron is required, what the best dosage is. More specifically, people are interested to know: how is iron absorbed in the human body and is more better? There are a few factors we need to take into consideration when supplementing iron.
How Is Iron Absorbed In The Human Body?
When we increase the dosage of supplemental iron we can be triggering an in-built system to protect us from high dose iron (which at high doses can be damaging to the body). This process is called mucosal block which is controlled by a protein called hepcidin. Hepcidin is a protein that regulates the entry of iron into cells. The mucosal block refers to a high dose of Iron that blocks the subsequent dose, even if it is much lower. The blocking mechanism was observed in humans at 30mg and 60mg but not at 20mg.
The more iron we are exposed to the higher our hepcidin levels climb: interestingly hepcidin is at the lowest in the morning and highest at night which is why your naturopath is likely to suggest you take your iron in the morning. We also understand that it can take 48 hrs for hepcidin levels to come down again: so it may be suggested that you take your iron every second day and morning is always best for optimal absorption.
Your practitioner will take into account your current iron levels and stored iron depending on your test results. They will then advise the best dosage and timing for your iron supplementation.
If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from iron deficiency, take a read of our blog on the signs of iron deficiency and make an appointment to see one of the professionally qualified practitioners at Perpetual Wellbeing.