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Five popular myths of iron This is the truth

1. If you are diagnosed with low iron levels, just take the pills and forget about it

Not true, because of non-heme iron (the kind that's found in regular supplements and vegetarian food) has a very low uptake. Only 1 - 4 % is assimilated into the organism as opposed to 20 - 40 % of heme iron (the kind that's found in meat and the OptiFer® supplements).

The other side of this coin is tolerance. Of regular non-heme supplement takers up to 30 % have to quit because of intolerable side-effects that come sooner or later. For heme iron this just doesn't happen. There are no recorded side-effects of heme iron and the good efficacy and excellent tolerance will not change even over longer time. Good News for chronics!

Finally there is the question of dosage ease. With OptiFer® heme iron supplements all you do is take one or two tablets per day -at any time. Simultaneously taken drink, food or even other medication does not interfere. So no multiple dosages at different hours, taking into consideration other things ingested or any other uncomfortable rules.

All iron is in the diet

2. A normal diet gives all the iron you need.

Not true because iron needs are very individual and depend highly on the life situation and health status. Since the non-heme iron in a vegetarian diet is poorly taken up, there may well be problems retaining healthy levels of iron. There are many factors in the diet, food, drink or medication that may affect absorption.

There is also a multitude of situations where the uptake is affected genetically or by a disease or medical status.

Iron needs are also personal and subject to for instance menstruation, trauma or bleedings. This must be considered and verified with blood exams if there is any reason to suspect deficiency.

All of the iron we use comes from the diet. The good news is that heme iron is taken up efficiently in any clinical situation, even after extensive gut surgery.

Iron is needed at the right time

3. The baby always gets what it needs from the mother during pregnancy.

Not true, because there's a growing body of evidence showing that the iron status of the mother during and after pregnancy negatively affects the baby. And what's worse: Many of the effects of low iron such as difficulty to concentrate and to learn crucial skills cannot be compensated for at a later age. What is not learned at a certain age may not be possible to attain at a later period of life.

Not only iron, but also folic acid are absolutely essential even before pregnancy. The result may be permanent neurological damage and even physical problems. OptiFer® F contains heme iron and folic acid and is strongly recommended already during the planning of pregnancy.

Gastrointestinal side-effects of non-heme iron

4. "Everybody" knows iron supplements give stomach problems.

For a very long time there was nothing like heme iron tablet preparations available for iron supplementation. All oral preparations were built on synthetic/chemical non-heme ingredients like Iron Sulphate, Iron Fumarate and the like.

In order for non-heme iron to be absorbed into the organism it needs to separate from its carrier i.e. dissolve for iron ions to be taken up. Free iron ions do not exist in nature and are considered toxic and very reactive. This is the reason why side-effects are so common. Since the uptake of non-heme iron is only 2 - 4 % most of the free iron ions are left in the stomach to irritate.

The remaining alternative is very expensive and inconvenient intravenous iron. There are potential risks with repeated iron injections over a longer period of time: overdosing and increased oxidative stress, which can be and often is fatal in weak patients.

The mechanism of absorption of natural heme iron is totally different. Heme iron is easily taken up in the intestinal cells as a whole unit, only to disintegrate later and be transported around the body. What is not absorbed of heme iron is totally inert and will not irritate. In all studies heme iron therefore shows a basically perfect tolerance.

Only two kinds of iron we can use

5. All oral iron is the same

Not true, because the two different forms heme- and non-heme iron are taken up along differen, but non-competitive routes.

Heme iron is a lot more efficient, the uptake is 20 - 40 % compared to non-heme: 2-4 %

There are no known side-effects of heme iron in stark contrast with non-heme iron that regularly gives unpleasant stomach disturbances and which will give therapy-halting side-effects sooner or later.

The only remaining form of iron supplementation is iron given intravenously. This is effective, but expensive, uncomfortable (even painful) and has some serious drawbacks such as the risk for overdosing and oxidative stress (potentially fatal).

Iron is vital for life

Iron is absolutely vital for life and untreated iron deficiency will eventually develop into anemia, which is a very serious condition.

Low iron values definitely lower the quality of life. Deficiency weakens physical and mental abilities and can only be treated by supplementing iron, since all iron comes from the diet.

The OptiFer® series of heme iron supplements is available from the NutriCare Division of MediTec Group.

Find out more at www.optifer.international and www.hemeiron.com

Created By
Michael Collan MediTec Fairlife International
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Created with images by Britt Felton - "Walking Over a Bridge" • Debbie Fan - "Visiting the Queen" • Jason Blackeye - "In a bar" • Marilou Chatzicharalampous - Savopoulou - "Greek islands_ Cyclades" • Kelly Sikkema - "untitled image" • Journie Crenshaw - "light the world"

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