Anemia Vs. Hemochromatosis

Most often people of heard the term "Anemia". It typically means that there is not enough iron in the blood. It can cause symptoms such as lethargy and can also cause serious problems. On the other end of the spectrum is an condition known as Hemochromatosis. This means that there is too much iron in the blood.

 The most common genetic malfunction in Caucasians. Usually the digestive system is the gate keeper for iron; allowing more or less to pass into the system as needed. In Hemochromatosis, the body just keeps absorbing more and more; storing in the liver, brain and other bodily organs. High iron literally causes your body to rust (oxidize) and is a major risk factor for liver and other cancers, cognitive decline/dementia and iron induced arthritis.

Women who are regularly menstruating rarely have any issues until menopause due to the blood loss. Males most commonly start to show symptoms in their forties.
I typically recommend every male or post menopausal woman have their serum ferritin levels checked periodically. If levels are at or above 80 ng/ml, request a genetic test for Hemochromatosis. For many, simply donating blood regularly will keep iron levels in the optimum range of 50 ng/ml, others may need therapeutic phlebotomy where a pint of blood is drawn at intervals to maintain healthy levels.

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