Indeed, one might almost say that confusion abounds. This new study on women’s health reports that dietary supplements are resulting in a higher mortality rate for women. But before we start to panic, let’s look at a few facts.
1) This study was conducted on older women with a mean age of 61 years.
2) Those taking iron supplements showed the greatest risk of earlier mortality.
Excess iron in the bloodstream is associated with increased atherosclerosis and subsequent heart attacks and strokes. It acts as a catalyst that increases the risk of free radical damage to the vascular system and associated tissue, thereby accelerating the aging process.
But back to the study.
When attempting to analyze this study, the most important piece of information is that these women are in a post-menopausal group that would no longer need to take extra iron to maintain health. After loss of menses, the risk of iron-deficiency anemia is low, and the risk of over accumulation increases.
Of course, most women who are trying to stay healthy are probably getting enough iron from fortified foods and dark green vegetables, as well as the occasional intake of red meat.
So here’s the bottom line: Iron supplementation is needed for the iron-deficient person. This is much more common in younger women, especially those who experience a heavy menstrual flow each month.
So, my recommendation for older men and women is to be smart, have blood work to check your iron status. Unless you receive a doctor’s indication that you are iron deficient, it’s best to skip that vitamin that contains iron.