New research has uncovered an alarming discovery about iron tablets, with experts saying the common supplement can damage vital DNA in your blood cells.
Tests conducted in the lab show the high levels of iron in tablets start to affect the DNA and blood vessels in just 10 minutes. Iron affects our DNA repair system, and researchers found the high dose from the supplements kept the system activated for over six hours – a lot longer than normal.
Dr Claire Shovlin, who was the lead author on the National Heart and Lung Institute study, said our bodies rely on the DNA repair system to heal cells and keep us healthy.
“All of the body’s cells have DNA repair systems that can fix all sorts of things in cells,” Dr Shovlin explained.
“But when we added iron, we saw that these systems had to work harder than normal.”
It’s thought this increased activity could do significant damage to our systems in the long run.
Dr Shovlin said supplements may contain 10 times more iron than we actually need for a healthy and balanced body and that an overdose of the mineral could be harmful.
While iron is an important part of a healthy diet, experts say we should be able to get our daily dose from our diet, rather than taking a supplement.
Generally, men and woman aged 51 years and over need about 8mg of iron a day. With a 100gm piece of red meat containing 3mg of iron and the same amount of spinach containing about 2.7mg, it should be easy for people to achieve their daily requirements without a supplement.
The researches say they need to conduct further testing before they hand down any concrete recommendations for reducing iron supplement intake, but say doctors should think about prescribing a lower dose of the mineral to patients.