Iron toxicity! Help!

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Hi, I recently started taking high dose iron tablets, 65mg, bought them off amazon. I’m a vegetarian so I’ve been taking iron tablets for years but never that strength. I have taken the 65mg ones for 3 weeks everyday and recently have had stomach pains and really bad dihorea. I feel like an idiot, I didn’t realise you could get iron poisoning. I’m not even sure in have low iron, never been to the doctor about it. 

I have stopped taking them but have read t can lead to death or brain and liver damage or cancer! I am so scared, I have a son and partner and don’t want to leave them, I’m so stupid! The stomach pains have stopped and not so much dihorea but read the iron can build up. Terrified I’m going to have a seizure or something.

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6 Replies

  • Posted

    It is never a good idea to take supplements without checking you need them. You may just be transferring money from your bank account to the supplement manufacturer’s bank account and nothing else. I feel we really should have more rules on supplements as people just sell them saying they are wonderful with no real proof at all. Some supplements such as vitamin C are fine in that you pee out the excess (expensive pee) while iron is cumulative in the body.
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  • Posted

    Hi Louise,

    The usual issue of iron is constipation and not diarrhoea so it maybe that you have a stomach bug rather than it being a side effect? Did you have constipation before these issues? Iron can be quite harsh on some people's systems and can cause stomach issues and constipation even at the usual levels.

    Also, the body needs vitamin c to help absorb the iron and so some of the iron may not have been absorbed?

    If it were me, I'd probably want to talk to a doctor to set my mind at rest. As you have stopped taking the supplement, I'm guessing things will start to go back to normal.

    I read that we don't absorb all the iron we take in anyway so possibly you haven't had too much even though it seems a high amount.

    Also, I looked up about excess iron on line and it said that build up occurs in people with a condition called hemochromatosis or children who need much lower levels of iron.

    Hope that helps

    Beverley

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    • Posted

      Hi, thank you for replying. I really don’t think it’s a bug, for the last week I had dihorea in the morning after I took an iron tablet. I stopped taking them Wednesday morning as I had really bad dihorea and stomach pains. It got better yesterday then I had pain where my spleen is when I breathed, lasted a few minutes. However, today I just feel tired with a sensitive stomach. Keep reading of people dying from too much iron. Read the symptoms go away then you go into shock with liver damage. I’m so stupid! 
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    • Posted

      Try not to worry louise, I know it's not easy. I seriously didn't find anything as scary as you have found for normal adults without the condition I mentioned.

      Are you in the UK? If so ring the nhs help line and explain your concern. I've accidentally taken too many antibiotics (I have to take it in liquid form) in the past and one time too many painkillers by accident too and rang them . They are super helpful and will tell you what the nhs considers the right options. You have stopped taking the supplement and things should start to settle. Also, maybe the diarrhoea helped expel alot of it too.

      Beverley

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  • Posted

    Stop worrying - it is very unlikely you have developed iron toxicity. In the UK it used to be standard practice to hand out iron supplements at the antenatal clinic. I was given the version that everyone else got - and was doubled up with stomach cramps within a week! It definitely wasn't iron toxicity but while most people develop constipation with iron supplements, some of us have the other problem. Especially when we don;t really need a lot and we don't absorb the excess - the body is very clever and knows what it needs of what we shove into it.

    But as ptolemy says - all you are doing with most supplements is putting money into the sales company/manufacturer's bank account. And as Beverly says - iron toxicity happens in people with specific health problems.  Now you have stopped taking them your gut will settle down but it may take a week or so.  

    The best thing to do as a vegetarian is to ask your doctor to check the things that you are likely to be short on - and then you probably will find you are not low on many things. The supplements industry is a very big one, making a lot of profit out of people's fear of being deficient - when in fact more is not always better. Probably the most important supplement for you will be vit D - there is next to noen in food and sun exposure doesn't always work. And if you DO need iron - there are better options out there.

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    • Posted

      Hi there, I know, I will not take supplements anymore, I feel so stupid. I became obsessed with being healthy and started reading about all the vitamins I need, it was getting ridiculous. Just can’t get the fact people have died with too much iron out my head. Keep waiting on something happening, feel I’ll end up in hospital. But thank you for your reassuring words. Put me at ease a bit. 
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