Iron, as a supplement and nutrient in food, has been wrongly attacked for decades, especially by those in the so-called “alternative health” community. Since our inception, we have corrected misinformation on iron and many other subjects.
The latest attacks on iron are the result of misreading a study that found that iron is present in the brain in Alzheimer’s patients. The study doesn’t make the conclusion that dietary iron is harmful, but the “anti-iron” crowd is crowing about it on the internet.
The study authors admit they don’t know much about iron’s role in Alzheimer’s—whether it is directly involved in cell death or a byproduct of cell death. It is an even bigger stretch to bash iron in foods and supplements. The study authors are proposing a possible drug to help protect brain cells but this, too, is preliminary and questionable. Given the fact that aluminum is found in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers, we openly speculate if the medical establishment really wants to actually find out if there are many other heavy metals in the brain. We don’t think so. We’re raising the question here.
Brain health is a complicated subject and one important point the “iron-bashers” miss is that mitochondrial health is critical for all systems and functions, but especially the brain. A “slow” or impaired mitochondria are implicated in Alzheimer’s and Autism—this makes the brain more vulnerable to attacks from naturally occurring substances. You don’t blame the substance; you blame the environmental assaults which weaken mitochondria.
The interview makes this point well by explaining the dual nature of oxygen. The same is with iron and most other nutrients and substances.
Why iron-bashers are so “hot” on iron has a history we told 30 years ago.
We still marvel at the arrogance of alternative doctors who get a few things right and a lot wrong. Tom Valentine eagerly challenged them in our publications. We subscribed to most of the “doctor newsletters” and dissected truth from propaganda—and believe it or not, the most popular alternative medical doctor newsletter publisher at the time widely promoted soy foods, was anti-iron and scoffed at animal-based diets.
We stood virtually alone at the time as a company that provided supplements and information and today, we’re doing the same thing. While much of the nutritional world has now caught on to the dangers of soy foods and many see through the fallacies of “plant diets” being superior, there are still many myths that need to be addressed. Our Trace Mineral Complex, which proudly has iron, replicates animal nutrition at its best: our source is chelated in amino acids that mimic animal sources of iron, providing better absorption than plant sources.
Minerals and absorption have always been key to us—minerals must be absorbed and utilized in the body. Trace minerals are involved in numerous many critical enzyme reactions necessary for health.
Our Trace Mineral Complex contains 8 milligrams of iron per capsule, which is 48% of the Recommended Daily Allowance. We did not “overdose” iron or any other trace mineral.
Our iron source is Ferrochel®, a fully chelated iron formed by binding iron to two organic glycine molecules. Most iron carries an electrical charge but the patented chelation process leaves Ferrochel® ionically neutral, so it does not deactivate or block the absorption of other nutrients. Ferrochel®’s small molecular size allows it to remain intact throughout the GI tract for optimal absorption. Ferrochel® has
The attacks on iron as a supplement, or in food, are ridiculous.
Ferrochel® has been used in more than 80 published articles and 70 clinical studies.
More than 2 billion people worldwide are deficient in iron.
In the United States, the CDC estimates that nearly 890,000 Emergency Room visits in the US occur annually with anemia as the primary diagnosis. The iron found in animal foods (heme iron) is better absorbed than plant (non-heme) iron, making iron inadequacy a real problem, especially among certain populations.
Iron is involved in helping red blood cell health and hormonal health; oxygen transport; the storage of oxygen in muscles; producing energy (making DNA); supporting the immune system; and making myelin (which surrounds the nervous system). Iron is involved in numerous other critical roles for optimal health.
The proper levels of trace minerals, nutrients and other important substances have been altered, due to Big Agriculture’s assault on food. Scores of soil sample testing revealed huge deficiencies and most disturbing, flat-out disappearance of critically important trace minerals in soils as far back as the early 1900s.
Dr. Wiley, the first commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, considered the health of the soil to be an inseparable issue of food quality—in 1912, Dr Wiley instated a massive research project to improve soil “fertility” but his project was terminated when Dr. Wiley was removed from office in 1912.
In 1936, Morris L. Cook, an engineer of the United States National Resource Board, testified before a Select Senate Committee, stating that “our country is afflicted with earth disease… as the matter now stands, and with the continuance of the manner in which soil is now being squandered, this country of ours less than 100 years of virile national existence.”
Little did Cook know that GMOs and hyper-fertilizing, pesticide-using among other rancid agricultural practices, would “end” soil long before his 100-year prediction of ruin.
You’d think even the dumbest alternative “doctor” would connect the dots: that soils lacking in minerals are not in foods resulting in nutritional deficiencies that cause disease. But alas, here we are.
We are reprinting excerpts from an interview Tom Valentine did 30 years ago because it brilliantly addresses the same iron-bashing headlines you may be reading now. We’re especially annoyed at how brazen the language was used to bash Iron.
Tom interviewed Mark Anderson, co-author of Empty Harvest with Dr. Bernard Jensen. The interview ran in the May/June 1993 issue of Search for Health.
Valentine and Anderson were irked at Dr. Julian Whitaker’s newsletter on Iron, which was titled “Iron: One Supplement You can without.”
Whitaker’s newsletter wrote “Do you have iron-poor blood? Well, you’d better hope so. It has recently been demonstrated that iron-rich blood puts you at risk of having a heart attack. In a recent study of 1,931 men followed for five years, heart attacks were closely associated with the amount of iron in the blood. In fact, the association was even closer than the link between cholesterol and heart attack. A meat-based diet supplies large amounts of iron, but iron is also added to most multivitamins. In the body iron and oxygen facilitate free radical formation and free radicals are associated with atherosclerosis, cancer and the aging process. The clear and frightening connection between iron and heart disease underscores the value of EDTA chelation therapy, which is the subject of your free supplement this month. EDGTA flushes out iron and other metals that generate free radicals.
(Valentine’s comment: even before Anderson begins to comment on this widely circulated misinformation, we are compelled to add a correction of our own. Whitaker claims that the “frightening connection between iron and heart disease underscores the value of EDTA chelation therapy. At Search for Health, we have long argued that EDTA is given credit for benefits that the chemical itself probably does not merit. For example, according to Dr. Paul Cutler of the American College of Advancement in Medicine, the chelating agent of choice for excess iron, if such exists a careful diagnosis, is not EDTA. It is desferoxoamine.)
May 1993 Interview begins:
Valentine: Mark Anderson, you took issue with that bulletin about too much iron Dr. Whitaker. Are you saying there is no such problem?
Anderson: It is always dangerous to look exclusively at a single nutrient.
I found the doctor’s comments on iron and heart disease to be reactive, overstated and scientifically incorrect. This kind of nutritional reporting typifies half-informed reporters who jump on a bit of data and extend vast conclusions. Oxygen is the single most important nutrient, yet by itself, it is hazardous. Without all the nitrogen in the atmosphere to temper oxygen, we could not live. Hydrogen by itself is as explosive and dangerous as oxygen, yet, you put the two of them together and you have water—the giver of life.
This should teach us never to look at things with an isolating eye.
Valentine: Perhaps it is because our education system teaches us to break everything down, to reduce, isolate and analyze it that we find it so easy to make erroneous correlations.
Anderson: It irritates me when medical authorities, especially those with open minds, fall back into the typical academic medical authority mode. Even when a doctor tries to break out, he finds himself trapped by the narrow gauge thinking of his education.
Valentine: Your response to the Dr. Whitaker bulletin indicated you were irritated at the presentation of the information about studies linking too much iron in the blood to heart disease.
Anderson: In his very first sentence he got himself into trouble as far as I’m concerned. He wrote: “Do you have iron-poor blood? We’d, you’d better hope so.” Every physician should know that basic biology is not the least bit controversial on the critical importance of iron and its relationship to oxygen—the singularly most important nutrient.
Anyone who suggests an “iron ban” is suggesting something akin to “stop breathing oxygen because it causes fires and volcanic eruptions on our planet.”
Valentine: I take it you didn’t think the study linking excess iron and heart disease that is being cited by many reporters is valid?
Anderson: Free radical pathology is enhanced by free oxygen carried by iron-based molecules. That is correct but it goes much further. The human body has control mechanisms based upon enzyme complexes which are vitamin and trace-mineral based, and some of these complexes are iron-dependent. One of the most important free radical-controlling enzymes is catalase, for example.
Valentine: Yes, we recall that clinical researchers checking on the therapeutic value of IV hydrogen peroxide stated that one of the problems with using this radical therapy was encountering patients with a shortage of catalase.
Anderson: Yes, people are generally deficient, not overloaded with micronutrients that must complex together in human physiology. It is a deficiency rather than an excess of such micronutrients as manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, B-12, selenium, Vitamins A, E, C, folic acid, beta carotene and others that create the potential for oxygen-related free radical damage. So, to imply that iron is the cause of free radical pathology leading to heart disease is simply misleading and false. On the contrary, iron deficiency has been repeatedly linked to at least two deadly forms of cancer—prostate and stomach. Low dietary iron is also linked with the hardening of the arteries, which Dr. Whitaker and others are now wrongly laying at the feet of excess iron.
Valentine: Dr. Whitaker noted that he personally donated blood to the Red Cross for both altruistic and health reasons. He said blood donation is an effective way of eliminating iron. He pointed out that women who menstruate each month shed excess iron and suggested that this may be the reason women statistically experience less heart disease than men.
Anderson: First of all, it’s incorrect to say that men do not lose iron without losing blood. Standard physiology teaches us that men lose at least one milligram of iron daily through feces and the process of elimination. Women may lose on an average of two milligrams a day because of menstruation, but menstruation does not occur every day. When menstruation ceases, either through menopause or surgery the male-female differential iron loss no longer exists. So the statistical claim that implied by the Whitaker report does not add up. The death rate due to heart disease is twice as high in men than in women during their 20-year age range when women do not menstruate and supposedly have this iron loss advantage. So, if women lose the advantage with menopause, why doesn’t the female heart disease death rate approach that of males when they have cade the “iron loss advantage”? It does not catch up, so the iron hypothesis does not add up.
Valentine: Obviously you reject the iron-excess thesis. What are your observations about dietary iron, then?
Anderson: The body has truly amazing control over quantitative intestinal absorption of iron into the blood as well as the ability to store excess iron in the blood in the form of ferritin and hemosiderin in the liver. Iron is absorbed very slowly in the buy and only a few milligrams are even potentially absorbed daily. If the body has satisfied its current need for iron, it further reduces the amount of iron it absorbs and conversely absorbs greater quantities when a deficiency is present. But first, it will release stored iron, primarily from ferritin, before it allows increased intestinal absorption. With this kind of intelligent control factor present as well as even more iron control mechanisms not mentioned here, it becomes clear that other biochemical factors are more likely to be out of balance, usually deficient, before iron becomes a problem.