Too much or too little of a good thing can be a problem. Too little iron in your body can make you fatigue easily or become anemic and too much iron can damage internal organs and increase the risk for other illnesses like diabetes. So how much iron do men need to have just the right balance?
Iron in the body
Iron is needed for your body to produce hemoglobin. This is important because the hemoglobin in your red blood cells carries the oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body. Finding the right balance for your health can be tricky.
How much iron do men need daily?
The normal hemoglobin range is 13.5-17.5 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter of blood for men. On average, a man only needs to consume 10 mg of iron per day to maintain healthy levels. Men tend to store more iron in their bodies than women, which is why iron deficiency is rare in men.
Excess Iron (Hemochromatosis)
Some men may have higher iron stores due to genetics. Hemochromatosis is a hereditary condition and causes your body to absorb too much iron from the food you eat. This can cause life-threatening conditions, such as liver disease, heart problems and diabetes.
Men with hemochromatosis are much more likely to be diagnosed with the effects of excess iron than women, and men also tend to develop problems from the excess iron at a younger age. The only way to reduce iron levels for people with hemochromatosis is by donating whole blood or double red cells on a regular basis.
A whole blood donation results in a loss of 200-250 mg of iron. Men with hemochromatosis often report being more energetic after donating blood, and some even describe feeling like they had a partial oil change in their body.
Some people never have symptoms, but if you are experiencing joint pain, abdominal pain, fatigue, weakness or have diabetes, heart failure or liver failure, you may want to test your iron levels and talk with your doctor.
When you donate blood, you'll receive a wellness check that include an iron screening among other tests. Schedule your appointment today.