The human body stores iron very efficiently. But more and more, scientists are finding that excessive iron is contributing to early aging and even Alzheimer’s disease. This newsletter focuses on the link between excessive iron and vitamin C, and how to avoid it.
Let’s first turn to this important review on the role of iron in brain aging and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
can cause the oxidation and modification of lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, and DNA….and cognitive impairment.
Now, let’s turn to another facet of iron, which is vitamin C. I’ve been recommending vitamin C for many years now, and I think vitamin C is extremely helpful for a variety of physical problems and health maintenance.
But there is a danger of vitamin C, and that danger has to do with excessive iron accumulation.
These are the kind of studies that I love. They’re clean, and simple. They gave people a special diet with extra iron, and various amounts of vitamin C. The vitamin C was administered in the form of ascorbic acid, which is the most common form of vitamin C.
Then they measured their iron absorption through blood test.
Between 25 mg and 1000 mg of Vitamin C, the iron was absorbed anywhere from almost twice as much, over nine times as much.
That’s quite a lot of extra absorption. However, one thing to keep in mind is that one of the major sources of iron for most people is going to be red meat. And the iron in red meat was not absorbed at quite this high ratio.
Nevertheless, it is clear that vitamin C vastly increases the absorption of iron when taken with a meal
This iron is not good. As the study says:
If taken only with breakfast, this level of supplementation would produce a nearly 2-fold increase in the amount of iron absorbed daily. If taken in divided doses with each mean, the increase in iron absorption would be more than 3-fold.
This is clearly a very bad result of taking vitamin C. Here’s how to fix it
A large dose of vitamin C taken with breakfast did not effect iron absorption from the noon or evening meal.
The key take away is to consume your vitamin C with a low iron meal. A lot of people will take vitamin C throughout the day. If you’re going to do that, it makes sense to have a low iron meal when you take your vitamin C. The effect of vitamin C and I absorption is fairly fast.
So it really only affects the meal that you eat within, maybe an hour or so after consuming the vitamin C.
The biggest caution I can give you about iron and vitamin C
In the United States, almost every baked good includes a very inferior form of iron supplementation. They put the iron in the flour. You can’t get away from it.
I would strongly suggest you avoid taking vitamin C if you’re going to be consuming any baked good within about an hour.
And I certainly would not take vitamin C with a meal including a lot of red meat. If you’re gonna take vitamin C with a low iron meal, you’re fine.
This is a good caution about vitamin C and iron absorption.
The role of iron in brain ageing and neurodegenerative disorders
Vitamin C, the common cold, and iron absorption.