Please Debunk “The Iron Food Enrichment Hypothesis” of Obesity and Disease

It’s been about 10 days since the 6K word-whopper went up: Iron, Food Enrichment and The Theory of Everything. So far very well received—as an hypothesis to investigate—by various communities. We were purposely diet agnostic in that post for, we consider the hypothesis also unifying in terms of at least partly explaining why vastly different diets provide benefits to diverse groups of people. For instance, myriad diets an LCer or Paleo would find unacceptable within the confines of their paradigms are nonetheless healthful; in many cases, more healthful—if longevity is the gold standard (see: The Blue Zones).

I think we’re back to square one: Eat Real Food and that may even include various grains…though primarily in a fresh, whole-grain way, so as to derive important nutrients from the bran and germ (e.g., manganese and copper, both critical in the regulation of iron absorption and storage regulation).

…All just food for chewing and thought.

And also: debunking. See, I’ve left that post at the top for 10 days now, refraining from blogging other indulgences. I think it’s important enough to stay there in order to hopefully get better fleshed out. So far, the only attempts at any debunking have been from readers in comments. One of the more interesting shots invoked Denise Minger and Ned Koch, specifically with respect to their China Study debunking and the role of wheat. Hit that link to see how it worked out.

Dr. Barry Sears, to his credit, gave it a shot on Twitter.

The countries w/ the greatest diabetes problems in numbers of diabetics are China & India & in percentages of diabetics it’s Saudi Arabia. The high iron hypothesis breaks down w/in those countries.

OK, so he’s claiming that he’s found two specific examples that would falsify the hypothesis as any sort of unifying explanation for all purported “paradoxes.” The problem is, we’d already looked at those (and everything else we could think of).

So, let’s run it down.

  1. India has mandatory fortification with iron (source). Recall that in the very opening of our post, we indicated that the U.S., Canada and U.K. are the only developed nations to enrich via State mandate. But various form of enrichment are prolific throughout the underdeveloped and developing world, both by State mandate and importation of enriched products.
  2. China has very high iron in wheat (see Mineral element concentrations in grains of Chinese wheat cultivars).
  3. China also has severe iron contamination in equipment made of iron and used for milling (see Investigation of the wear failure mechanism of a flour milling roller).
  4. China has iron dust storms from Gobi Desert that bloom ocean life (see Iron Fertilization in the Ocean and the possible Effects on Climate).
  5. Cast iron woks, ubiquitous in China, significantly increase iron content of food (see Wikipedia: “An American Dietetic Association study found that cast iron cookware can leach significant amounts of dietary iron into food. The amounts of iron absorbed varied greatly depending on the food, its acidity, its water content, how long it was cooked, and how old the cookware is. The iron in spaghetti sauce increased 2,109 percent (from 0.35 mg/100g to 7.38 mg/100g), while other foods increased less dramatically; for example, the iron in cornbread increased 28 percent, from 0.67 to 0.86 mg/100g.[4][5]”)
  6. Saudi Arabia also has mandatory fortification with iron (source).

Not exhaustive, but certainly China, India, and Saudi Arabia all generally meet the parameters of our hypothesis: that iron—either by enrichment, environmental factors, or culinary practices—is an associated variable.

Of course, what makes the hypothesis stronger and stronger is if the variable shows up everywhere and nobody can find an exception. Moreover, while there are lots of variables that would show up in every observed case, what makes iron a serious contender for serious study is that its ill effects on heath are very well established; whereas, something like, say, sodium content, or carbohydrate content, are not.

In other words, iron is a really big fish, and if we find him swimming in all troubled waters, it’s probably got to be a big deal. And keep in mind: this is now expanding beyond enrichment, high iron content from natural foods, and an ignorance toward traditional food pairings where iron mitigating foods are consumed along with high iron foods.

…Alright, I’m sure that Dr. Sears did not take a lot of time to make a debunking attempt but we extend our thanks anyway as we put out the call for all comers. Take it on. Debunk it. All it takes is one solid population where iron can reasonably be excluded as a factor of any rational significance.

And I will point out that failing to do so establishes nothing beyond increased confidence that the hypothesis is serious, sound so far as we know, and worthy of serious study. As we understand: the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Or, your keys did not disappear, no matter a complete absence of any information as to their whereabouts.

…As a final thought, I learned something yesterday, or at least became more aware. Take the paleo narrative on grains. You know, no important intake before about 10-14,000 years ago: so cross, wooden stake, garlic. But then we find that’s not true, as even Neanderthal show signs of grain consumption. But the far bigger issue is how grains were consumed. Traditionally, they were likely whole, stone ground, and eaten relatively fresh. Later traditional methods involved fermentation, either by yeast, or yeast and lactobacilli (for traditional sourdough).

Why fresh? Ah, because when you grind in the bran and germ, it starts the spoilage process and will eventually taste “off,” then rancid. Modern technology found a way around that, stripping off those “offending” elements (the ones with all the nutrition), and all in order to achieve profitability through economies of scale. In other words, they could do milling runs far exceeding demand, thereby building enormous inventory that had a long shelf life.

Economics meets biology.

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  1. andrew on June 27, 2015 at 14:35

    It just seems like you are correlating endless things about a mineral that is incredibly common and therefore you could correlate almost anything. There are probably thousands of correlations you could make with Iron, or maybe a few other minerals. For every “debunk” you can cherry pick many more correlations. It’s endless. If you could really show in at least one case where all other reasonable sources of causation are ruled out at a population level for obesity or diabetes I think that would be a big step. Yes, the world is complicated but something should be out there if what you are asserting is correct, what do you feel is the smoking gun here? Sorry, I think this would be really interesting if it were true, but Iron is supplemented in a range of products throughout the world and the daily intakes are pretty consistent…multivitamins in France certainly have Iron consistent with the UK and the US levels for instance. Breakfast cereals are popular in France as well, Kelloggs basically owns this market and it has added Fer. Also, the French love exercise, it’s drilled into all school children and their eating discipline is very different from the US or the UK (no snacking, no eating while standing, etc). You can’t control for that.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 27, 2015 at 15:09

      I actually addressed that in the post, Andrew, explicitly.

      So, perhaps you could actually take on my clarifications and distinctions instead of pretending that there was nothing written about that.

    • andrew on June 27, 2015 at 15:34

      This is exactly my point, if someone points out that China has obesity you point out all kinds of sources of iron. But iron mining and environmental presence of Iron is incredibly prevalent int he world (Sweden for instance). This is very easy, you should be able to create a mathematical model given the inputs you assert that predicts the outcomes you would expect. That would bring rigor. Hypothesis is interesting, but you need phase II, rigor. Then there would be something to debate.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 27, 2015 at 15:54

      Oh, so you think Sweden is an exception, then?

      Well, make your case to debunk. Try very hard, because we already have it covered.

      In terms of rigor, we don’t have the resources, which is why we’re doing as much as we can.

      “Then there would be something to debate.”

      Spoken like a fucktard who’s doing exactly that. I fucking loath your brand of lying dishonestly, man.

    • andrew on June 27, 2015 at 16:04

      It would have taken far fewer resources to put in some basic numbers in a spreadsheet and show how tight your correlations are mathematically than dig up all this research. I’m not sure why you think I’m lying, I think it’s a very interesting hypothesis. Best of luck.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 27, 2015 at 16:29

      Look man, you’re a geek who thinks “spreadsheets” win hearts and minds.

      I have been clear: an hypothesis. I want to get hearts and minds interested. If you want to jerk off over a spreadsheet, be my guest. You can probably get a circle-jerk going with about 5 other people on Earth.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 27, 2015 at 20:27

      You’re gone again V. Deleting all comments you’ve posted recently.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 27, 2015 at 20:42

      And Btw V, since 99% of your comments since 2008 have been 1 sentence snark hit and run, because you simply don’t have a mind that LEADS anything ever, it ought not trouble you.

      Not deleting much of anything, just like the last two times. Let’s see how you worm your way back next time.

      Or, just hang out with crazy Wooo and drink bleach.

    • S on June 28, 2015 at 05:34

      In Colpo’s book Fat Loss Bible, he reports finding from a couple of clinical trials that show that even half hearted attempts at reducing iron significantly reduced CVD and mortality. So better than correlations on a spreadsheet.

    • Beans McGrady on June 28, 2015 at 10:01
    • Duck Dodgers on June 29, 2015 at 08:27


      For the most part it probably helps to focus on developed countries with less variables than China. China is a developing country with extreme heavy metal toxicity issues. I don’t see how one can make an conclusions one way or the other. For that reason, it’s probably easier to focus on developed nations. We covered Scandinavia’s and Sardinia’s paradoxical iron issues in the first post.

      The problem we have is that iron has actually been linked to virtually every major chronic inflammatory disease. And let’s say that it’s a fairly obvious culprit, since iron oxidizes . So, it’s difficult to ignore that.

      If you should suspect this is something we came up with, it’s not. The iron hypothesis has been around since at least the 1980s. It’s only been expanded since then. Here’s a brand new paper that actually takes the time to outline many of the mechanisms of the Iron Hypothesis in just about every chronic disease, should you be curious to learn more. It briefly covers the research of iron overload relating to cancer, obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, renal fibrosis, glaucoma, and colitis and others:

      The Utility of Iron Chelators in the Management of Inflammatory Disorders (2015) (Free Download)

      Iron accumulation and increased oxidative stress were also described in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia [2], diabetes [106], the metabolic syndrome [107], obesity [108], hypertension [109], cardiovascular diseases [110], heart failure [95], atheroscle- rosis [111], stroke [112], Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other major neurodegenerative diseases [113], Friedreich’s ataxia [114], amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [115], rheumatoid arthri- tis [116], systemic lupus erythematosus [117], asthma [118], inflammatory bowel diseases [119], age-related macula degen- eration [120], psoriasis [121], gout [122], chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder [123], cancer [51], malaria [124], and other diseases (for overviews see Kell 2009 [2] and Weinberg 2010 [125])…

      …Iron is involved in almost every clinical condition of acute or chronic inflammation.

      So, I suppose you can just say we are cherry picking to support the hypothesis, but what are we to make from all of these connections to iron that researchers have shown over the past century?

      Perhaps we should just ignore those connections to iron and go on believing the obsolete and overlysimplistic belief that our macronutrient selection is all that matters in health? Sadly, that’s no longer an option since that line of reasoning is easily debunked by looking at other populations (French, Masai, Hadza, Mbuti, etc.)

      So, unless you have any better ideas as to what is causing chronic inflammation in developed nations, iron looks like a very obvious culprit once you actually take the time to look into it.

    • Duck Dodgers on June 29, 2015 at 09:13

      Here’s a recent paper I hadn’t seen before. Basically saying what we’ve been saying…

      Epidemiological associations between iron and cardiovascular disease and diabetes (2014) (Free Download)

      Disruptions in iron homeostasis are linked to a broad spectrum of chronic conditions including cardiovascular, malignant, metabolic, and neurodegenerative disease. Evidence supporting this contention derives from a variety of analytical approaches, ranging from molecular to population-based studies. This review focuses on key epidemiological studies that assess the relationship between body iron status and chronic diseases, with particular emphasis on atherosclerosis ,metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Multiple surrogates have been used to measure body iron status, including serum ferritin, transferrin saturation, serum iron, and dietary iron intake. The lack of a uniform and standardized means of assessing body iron status has limited the precision of epidemiological associations. Intervention studies using depletion of iron to alter risk have been conducted. Genetic and molecular techniques have helped to explicate the biochemistry of iron metabolism at the molecular level. Plausible explanations for how iron contributes to the pathogenesis of these chronic diseases are beginning to be elucidated. Most evidence supports the hypothesis that excess iron contributes to chronic disease by fostering excess production of free radicals. Overall, epidemiological studies, reinforced by basic science experiments, provide a strong line of evidence supporting the association between iron and elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In this narrative review we attempt to condense the information from existing literature on this topic.

      Concludes by saying more research is definitely needed.

    • Eric on June 30, 2015 at 17:08

      Eating standing up? I don’t know what the numbers are for the south of Spain but everyone seems very thin and they stand up eating tapas all the time. I wonder about cultures that eat lying down, or sitting on the ground as opposed to in a chair…

  2. Jeff on June 27, 2015 at 14:55

    Not really specifically debunking the article, but…

    The more I look into this type of thing the more spot on Michael Pollan looks. Trying to determine isolated nutrients or anti-nutrient is probably not the best way to design an invididual diet. Eat Real Food, avoid additives and heavy processing (preservatives, pesticides, colors, added sugar, added oils/fats, protein extracts, potato starch). And realize that the list of modern lifestyle changes that could be responsible for disease stretches far beyond diet (activity patterns, sleep patterns, stress, electromagnetic radiation, cosmetics and other topically applied chemicals, exposure to the natural world, temperature exposure, relationships, and on and on.)

    • Richard Nikoley on June 27, 2015 at 15:16


      The critical distinction is that while you can avoid various environmental and cultural practices that add iron, it’s tough to avoid food enrichment by State decree. And remember, this is not a Paleo cause. It’s a human cause and I’m sorry, but Paleo will always be a fringe thing, just like LC. 99% of the world will never explicitly eat Paleo or LC.

      In terms of the latter part of your comment, appears you suffer from the same lack of reading comprehension Andrew does, since you point to a laundry list of variables that can perhaps also be associated everywhere, but none are completely established as dilatory as is iron.

      That’s the POINT! We’re not willy-nilly just picking a variable. We’re picking one that’s common, that’s ALSO established as CUASAL of a host of problems.


  3. S on June 27, 2015 at 15:47

    I’m the guy that brought up the China study,Minger and Koch. Just to be clear, I was not trying to debunk the iron hypothesis since I stated I was trying to lower my iron.

    I was just suspicious of the healthfulness of wheat independent of iron. And I am not attached to the notion that wheat is harmful, but I did find it curious that it was a strong predictor of bad outcomes in the China study. If indeed wheat’s harmful effect operates through the iron mechanism, I am willing to reconsider unfortified wheat in my diet.

    In any case thanks for providing info on the iron levels in Chinese wheat. This is a compelling argument.

    • Paleophil on June 28, 2015 at 14:10

      Good work, Richard and Duck. Nice followup response to the China Study inquiries and Barry Sears’ claim of confounders.

      S says:
      “I’m the guy that brought up the China study,Minger and Koch. Just to be clear, I was not trying to debunk the iron hypothesis since I stated I was trying to lower my iron.”

      Yeah, same here. Thanks for bringing it up for investigation. FWIW, I took your comment in the constructive way you intended. I was also curious about it and I too was already on board with keeping my serum iron low and had already been including small amounts of flatbread wheat in my diet for some months. Now I’m curious as to whether it’s fortified.

      I’m curious now whether the China Study data would actually SUPPORT Duck’s hypothesis if the serum ferritin and dietary iron intake variables were examined. It would also be interesting to see the numbers run on other mineral intake and serum variables. I know it’s just observational data and not a final answer to anything, but it would at least undermine the way that LCers and most Paleoists represent the China Study data and put the onus back on them.

      I’m also hoping that Prof. Jane Karlsson will share more with us about manganese and copper:

      “Jane Karlsson, PhD, Oxford has studied the interaction of iron and other micronutrients for over 30 years and says that there’s good evidence that iron is only toxic when it is not opposed by manganese and copper, which are necessary for proper metabolic signaling in both plants and animals.”

    • Duck Dodgers on June 29, 2015 at 08:09

      “I’m curious now whether the China Study data would actually SUPPORT Duck’s hypothesis if the serum ferritin and dietary iron intake variables were examined.”

      It’s an interesting idea. However, I’m not entirely sure if ferritin is always an accurate marker of iron levels in tissues. My understanding is that ferritin is an estimation of iron levels in tissues. But, if one is inflamed (anemia of chronic disease) and iron is inflaming the brain or liver, it may be plausible that ferritin does not always reflect that iron toxicity.

      Also…I think it’s fairly useless to use China as an example of anything one way or the other. The variables in China are just too insane. The pollution, the job exposure hazards, the cookware, the water pollution, the food tainting, the Gobi desert dust. It’s an environmental disaster. And they are just beginning to fortify soy sauce with iron there. I don’t know how one can draw any conclusions from China one way or the other. Which is a reason why we didn’t really bring it up in the first article to begin with.

      And furthermore, let me just say that I would love to debunk this hypothesis since I actually tend to love eating iron-rich foods.

    • S on June 29, 2015 at 08:49

      Thanks for your comments Paleophil.

      Duck, you mention ferritin may not always be an accurate measure of iron stores. I’m wondering if this could be my case since I have been chelating iron with IP6 for a year (can’t give blood and doctor won’t prescribe phlebotomy).
      I’ve been experiencing anemia like symptoms especially after hard exercise over the last few weeks. My ferritin dropped about 80 points over the last year from the chelation. TIBC is low so signs point to anemia of chronic disease.

      Do you know if its possible for chelation or rapid chelation to trigger anemia of chronic disease? I’ve never experienced anemia in the past. Only other lifestyle change has been doing more intense resistance exercise with weights starting about 3 months ago.


    • Duck Dodgers on June 29, 2015 at 09:55

      S, I have no idea. My apologies. And I won’t speculate on anyone’s health here.

    • Duck Dodgers on June 29, 2015 at 10:10

      PaleoPhil, while it would be fun to turn the tables on the China Study (though I doubt it would be helpful), in the meantime, there is other more reliable evidence that is pointing to iron in epidemiological studies. I linked to this paper showing the strongly observed link, above, but it’s worth mentioning again for those who are looking for such associations…

      Epidemiological associations between iron and cardiovascular disease and diabetes (2014) (Free Download)

      “Most evidence supports the hypothesis that excess iron contributes to chronic disease by fostering excess production of free radicals. Overall, epidemiological studies, reinforced by basic science experiments, provide a strong line of evidence supporting the association between iron and elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes

      You can see the paper easily links heme iron, but it cautions that we need to pay attention to non-heme. I suspect non-heme is poorly linked in these epidemiological studies since it’s so easily inhibited by some food pairings (coffee, tea, eggs, cocoa, phenols).

      But, of course, as we mentioned in our article, there are things like HFCS that significantly increase iron absorption—which, perhaps, explains why the effects of HFCS on metabolic issues has mystified researchers. So, I would imagine that’s why non-heme iron isn’t easily implicated in epidemiological studies like heme iron is. As you know, we explained all this in the main article outlining our hypothesis. And as the paper concludes, more research is needed.

      The important thing is that we are making people aware of the research on iron and perhaps the issue won’t be ignored in the future by mainstream diet gurus. At least, one can hope.

    • Paleophil on June 29, 2015 at 20:39

      Yes, and the many environmental iron variables are one reason the serum level variable is potentially useful. Serum levels are what they are regardless of the sources. If factoring in variables like serum ferritin, however imperfect, turns out to eliminate the oft-cited associations between wheat and disease/mortality, then wouldn’t that be a useful data point, at least slightly, regardless of where the iron came from? At any rate, we don’t even have to check the data ourselves to do like Richard did and invite skeptics and critics to check the iron variables when they cite the CS data to us. With luck, maybe it’ll encourage someone to do the work for us. :)

      On the n=1 front, FWIW, I think my most recent blood test results and other health markers were the best ever, though I haven’t yet compared them in detail to past results. Every number was within common normal lab ranges, including iron (though it was just a standard panel with hemoglobin). Part of my strategy was consuming less iron than in my VLC Paleo days and consuming more foods that could potentially bind with iron (such as dairy and teas, which I also happen to enjoy), though I don’t think my iron was tested in the past and my serum ferritin and other iron markers have still not been tested, so it’s difficult to know what impact it has had. Overall I’m pleased with the results (though there’s still room for improvement) and thankful for the work that you, Tim, Richard and all have done, which has been helpful in developing my current approach and also in my efforts that helped others who also went too LC for too long, which has been gratifying. For me, that’s what it’s all about–learning, sharing and helping both myself and others and I like that you have demonstrated a focus on that too. Please keep up the good work.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 29, 2015 at 20:43

      And thanks for sticking with it here, through the good, bad, ugly.

    • Paleophil on June 29, 2015 at 21:06

      No problem, I know it comes with the territory, so I girded myself for it long ago, and one of my rules is to try not to complain about bloggers who share free info that I or others benefit from, and basically try not to be a wuss. :)

  4. Jer on June 28, 2015 at 05:55

    I found a rather large study detailed here: Dietary iron intake and blood donations in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes in men: a prospective cohort study. 38,394 men ages 40-75 were followed over a period of 12 years. The researchers screened for various factors. The bottom line finding: overall iron intake is not correlated with diabetes type II; it’s heme iron that is. “Although severe iron overload can cause type 2 diabetes among patients with hemochromatosis [up to 65% of hemochromatosis patients develop diabetes (36)], our study found no evidence that total iron intake or the frequency of blood donations is related independently to the risk of type 2 diabetes in apparently healthy middle-aged men.

    However, heme-iron intake from red meat appears to be associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, but our study was unable to determine whether the association was due to heme iron per se or to other components of red meat.” Also, total iron intake was INVERSELY associated with Diabetes II in healthy lifestyle people: “Total iron intake was inversely associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes in the analyses adjusted for age and for age and BMI but not in the multivariate analysis with adjustment for family history of diabetes, physical activity, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and dietary factors”
    Sounds like a debunk of the hypothesis. Am I reading this wrong? What do you think?

    • Richard Nikoley on June 28, 2015 at 06:36


      Unless they measured actual iron status in 40,000 men over 12 years, it’s a worthless jerk off session. Those large self-reporting studies based on questionnaires seem to be used to claim of disclaim anything you want.

      Better to measure the actual iron status of lots of people with various debilitating illnesses. Then you’re getting somewhere.

    • Jer on June 28, 2015 at 07:03

      I feel that the problem with doing it that way is you’re getting the chicken or egg quandary. Did the illness cause the iron accumulation or the other way around? Some known correlations to Alzheimers are anti-anxiety meds, brain injury, and sleep deprivation. So did these factors cause heavy metals to accumulate in the brain, perhaps even on a low iron diet?
      Same with Diabetes – from the same paper quoted previously: “Findings from cross sectional and case-control studies relating serum ferritin concentrations to insulin resistance or risk of diabetes were inconsistent (6–11, 30, 31). Several of these studies observed positive associations between serum ferritin concentrations and insulin resistance (6–8) or risk of diabetes (10, 11). however, high serum ferritin concentrations may reflect systemic inflammation associated with diabetes rather than high body iron stores.
      Salonen et al (5) examined the relation between the ratio of serum transferrin receptor concentration to ferritin concentration and the incidence of diabetes in a small, nested case control study (41 cases and 82 controls) in Finland. the men in the lowest quartile of the ratio of transferrin receptor to ferritin were 2.4 times as likely as the men in the highest quartile to develop diabetes”. So in this case, the same findings were found in a controlled study.
      BTW, here’s another cohort based on over 85,000 women – same findings as the men:
      I believe I could make a case for confirmation bias (OH NOES) on either side – all depends of which side of the argument you want to believe in.

    • John on June 28, 2015 at 10:44

      Yeah, the only problem is that when researchers actually measure ferritin and markers of glycemic control like blood glucose and HbA1c, and reduce ferritin by phlebotomy in an RCT, there is an improvement in those markers.

      Then again, who knows, maybe the act of mailing a questionnaire actually negates the benefits of iron reduction.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 28, 2015 at 11:28

      You’re not getting it.

      Nothing is confirmed or denied by having umpteen thousand people fill out questionnaires. Shit, my comment threads are more reliable.

      And, a hypothesis is not even necessarily confirmed by gold-standard research, but could be falsified. It’s always an inability to falsify solidly that lends increasing credence to an hypothesis.

      It’s why we said it merits serious study. So far, you’ve put up two examples of meaningless drivel that focus in on but one single disease.

      To falsify, you need solid falsification. For example, one way would be to show a reasonably large sample of people with significant iron overload (measured) in pristine health.

      Best of luck.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 28, 2015 at 12:50

      Let me add something else you may find conciliatory.

      We are very open to the possibility that iron overload in the blood isn’t the big kahuna here, but rather the indigestible iron (principally from enrichment for most people, environmental for some) that gets to the gut and fucks it up. So, we know fucked up guts cause all sorts of shit, but lots of things can fuck up a gut. Processed foods and antibiotics hold sway in that regard currently. We’re suggesting iron, principally via enrichment, be added to the list for further study.

      The added problem there is you enter a realm where variables go up exponentially. We’re not trying to be too bright eyed here, but raising awareness and curiosity. So, for instance, some people getting lots of fucking-up iron to the colon might mitigate it by various probiotic and prebiotic tactics. And this blurs data. So, it’s a really tough problem and perhaps the best we can hope for is that it’s just forever unfalsifiable, kinda like tobacco epidemiology where it’s pretty clear heavy tobacco use causes bad things yet there is nothing but epidemiology supporting it.

    • Jer on June 29, 2015 at 02:52

      The reason all those markers improved is because the body replaced those diabetes ravaged blood cells with new blood cells better able to do their job. The ferritin went into making those new blood cells. Not really a mystery. Still not an indication or proof that iron caused or will cause diabetes.
      I also believe that a shitty diet is a shitty diet. Eating crap will screw your body up. One component of a shitty diet? Fortified foods.

    • Jer on June 29, 2015 at 03:02

      Sorry, that reply was for John – “markers of glycemic control like blood glucose and HbA1c, and reduce ferritin by phlebotomy in an RCT markers improved” – the comment dropped.
      For Richard:
      “one way would be to show a reasonably large sample of people with significant iron overload (measured) in pristine health.”
      Unfortunately modern medical practice is reactionary – let’s cure the condition, not prevent it. Not going to find many, if any controlled studies that focus on healthy people.
      Adding onto my “Shitty Diet” theory; you can at least partially overcome that by exercise, bodybuilders being a prime example of that.
      I thoroughly concur on gut health. Your blogs on potato starch and probiotics have made a big difference in health in my family.

    • Bret on June 29, 2015 at 05:11

      but rather the indigestible iron (principally from enrichment for most people

      This is the angle I find most attractive as well. Tinkering with nature’s food has never seemed to work out well from a health perspective. The idea is truly absurd that adding iron to flour that’s been stripped of all its real nutrient content (the germ, etc) suddenly makes it healthy again. It’s the kind of thing that’s so ridiculous, it could only be dreamed up by industry and enforced by government.

      If indeed this is primarily at the root of our issues and can be demonstrated to that effect (and I think it’s off to a nice start), it will be a nice vindication for the real food advocates, the Weston A. Price folks, and so on.

    • John on June 29, 2015 at 07:06

      “The reason all those markers improved is because the body replaced those diabetes ravaged blood cells with new blood cells better able to do their job.” Okay, so then we both agree that a diabetic with high iron levels would benefit from donating blood, yes?

      By the way, I never suggested that an individual should eat lots of iron fortified foods and then just donate blood. I had begun to suspect that supplemental iron, both in pills and added to grains, was more problematic than heme and non-heme iron from meat, fruit, veggies, tubers and such (and that doesn’t mean that natural iron in food is never a problem).

      By the way, as I ate iron fortified foods for three decades before beginning to think about this stuff, it was too late to prevent high body iron stores and any effect on the gut. That’s why I started donating blood (which, by the way, provides a great help for others in need) and am experimenting with things like probiotics and lactoferrin.

    • Jer on June 29, 2015 at 09:39

      Theoretically speaking, even a diabetic with normal iron levels would benefit from donating blood. Might be an interesting n-1 for those diabetics out there to try.
      I’m not sure about what you mean in the 2nd paragraph, I never implied that you did suggest that.
      Good health to you, however you arrive there.

    • GTR on June 29, 2015 at 13:09

      @Richard “For example, one way would be to show a reasonably large sample of people with significant iron overload (measured) in pristine health.”

      I don’t know if such population exists, but if you want to find one, try among health-conscious people who take a lot of supplements. A multivitamin can give one RDA of iron per pill (*), then add some spirulina and chlorella pills, plus meals including both grass-fed beef as well as a lot of healthy vegetables and fruit with Vitamin C.

      * There are safer multivitamins – ones with no minerals, or with reduced iron – like some multivitains targeted at elderly.

    • Rob on June 29, 2015 at 22:17

      My wife used to take iron for anemia. That stuff plugged her up good and her doctor knew that it would. I’m pretty sure it messes with your digestion, maybe not in real food but definitely the supplements.

    • Eric on June 30, 2015 at 17:13

      hey man this is the future based on “science” you were promised, enjoy!

  5. Harriet on June 27, 2015 at 18:36

    I was initially sceptical but with more and more reading of comments I think its a really interesting hypothesis. Now I’m retired and not in the health field except for our family’s personal health I don’t have the inclination to spend hours searching papers, but will follow other’s work with interest. The obesity epidemic has been academically interesting to watch from the sidelines, and problematic when it became personal. Keep up the exploration everyone.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 27, 2015 at 18:55


      You really have been a remarkable value to this blog. Imagine how many people out there decided to give RS via PS a try because you stuck it out.

      We’ll never know.

      And, really, my main goal was to just bring awareness to the gut.

      Hey, there’s a position open in The Duck Dodgers. Let me know if you’re interested.

    • Harriet on June 28, 2015 at 20:25

      Thanks for the offer to join duck dodgers but not at the moment. My husband is retiring this week and then we are off to meet lots of family in Texas and Ontario for 6 weeks. After that we have to gel as a couple at home and that is likely to take some orientation of our lives after many decades of work. For what its worth, I have a wonderful husband – I wish more women could have partners as great as he has been over most of our 46 years of marriage.

      And he is still losing weight on the predominantly potato diet he has most days. Down 8kg much to the surprise of his doctor. Our version of it works for him.

      As an update: My AS is about the same as pre PS, my blood sugar control is vastly improved even when I’m on a low RS diet trying to get rid of the strep and parasite gut infections using herbs. Just waiting for the Elixa probiotics to arrive and will report back.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 28, 2015 at 20:36

      You call me when ready, firecracker.

  6. John Brisson on June 27, 2015 at 19:50

    Richard is it a possibility that all of the increased Iron intake leads to bacteria overgrowth? Combined with the poor American diet could both cause a lot of these problems including obesity?

    • Richard Nikoley on June 27, 2015 at 20:29

      John, I’ll invite to to actually fucking read the original post for fuck fuck’s sake.

    • John Brisson on June 27, 2015 at 20:57

      I did you ass.

      Duck references it more of a leaky gut issue. Disruption of the mucosial barrier and the GALT. They link it to mainly pathogenic bacteria, but any bacteria can be lead to overgrowth even probiotic or HSO’s. Not trying to be a dick here you know Ill agree with you when you post information that is sound or tgat I agree with.

      This does explain how lactoferrin is so good at attacking biofilms and many microorganisms that require iron.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 27, 2015 at 21:17

      Oh, you’ll agree with me when you agree with me?

      I’m humbled.

    • John Brisson on June 27, 2015 at 21:24

      Least I can admit when you are right your right. Got to respect me a little on that.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 27, 2015 at 21:33

      I’m tolerant when called for.

    • Duck Dodgers on June 29, 2015 at 08:54

      John Brisson,

      We left the conclusion open-ended. We really don’t know if the damage is always due to iron accumulation, or a disruption of the mucosa, or the biome, or inhaling iron pollution, or everything all together. We just don’t know, but each is suspected by researchers.

      All we noticed was a pattern that needs some investigation (i.e. developed countries that fortify have far more metabolic issues and this seems to be exacerbated by high heme consumption from meat). Iron seems to be a very toxic metal beyond it’s use in RBCs. So, I have no doubt that it can do damage wherever it winds up.

      For instance, iron overload is now linked to eye disorders (glaucoma, for instance). So, somehow too much iron is making its way into random tissues. I couldn’t tell you if the gut is involved in that, but I wouldn’t doubt that it is.

      Perhaps each person just has individual idiosyncrasies (biomes or genetics or whatever) that encourage iron to accumulate in particular tissues or not.

      I’m sure you’ve heard of the obesity paradox?

      …It’s the idea that obesity can be protective in certainly populations, such as those who are chronically inflamed or elderly. Nobody can explain this, yet the iron hypothesis easily explains it.

      As we discussed in the original article, adipose tissue can secrete hepcidin to sequester iron away from the blood—blood iron levels are tightly regulated by the body. Now that you know this, you can see how this might confuse doctors who are just looking at blood levels and assume a patient is just anemic. Obesity appears to be a protective measure to keep iron away from the organs where the iron can cause damage.

      Therefore, obesity can be a protective mechanism in chronic inflammation and iron may have different effects on different people who deal with iron in different ways.

      Clearly there has not been much mainstream attention focussed on iron’s role in disease, but if you take the time to look, you will find that plenty of researchers have been focussed on it in recent years. Only, not too many people have connected all the dots in a way that we did—certainly the media is almost completely unaware of it. So, our goal is simply to have more people looking at the iron research that already exists and pay closer attention to it.

      We also want to question the logic and sanity of pouring unopposed iron supplements into the foods supply when iron is extremely easy to obtain from modern availability of whole foods. These things need to be investigated now that there is all this research showing problems with iron. The media and virtually all diet gurus are focussed on macronutrients, when there is plenty of evidence that micronutrients (like iron) may be a very major contributor to modern chronic diseases.


  7. Jess on June 28, 2015 at 05:57

    Unless you have your own in mind, it’s about profit. Yes, economics, but more tellingly, profit.

  8. Ed R. on June 28, 2015 at 14:43

    Thank you all for an interesting and informative post. I read Colpo’s take on it a while back, but you people have really fleshed it out and expanded upon it.

    It provided a lot of food for thought, as I am trying to zero in on some lifestyle changes. I went Paleo a year ago and had good results. Down from 229 to 166 lbs. with pretty good blood work. For me it has been a great intervention.

    I have been looking into the “Blue Zones” with interest. Of course there is more involved there than just diet, but I’m not about to try and become a caveman either.

    My current thinking is that Paleo, while relying on anthropology as to what our ancestors did 250,000 years ago, is still based on speculation. We can’t know for sure how long they lived or how healthy they were.

    Having just turned 70, my focus may be different than some. I have two wonderful grandchildren, now my goal is to make it to meet my future great grandchildren.

    While Paleo is speculation, we can observe the Blue Zones now. These people are alive NOW. They are living long and healthy lives NOW. Figure it is definitely worth looking into. These posts and comments are extremely helpful. Thank you.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 28, 2015 at 15:01

      “Having just turned 70, my focus may be different than some. I have two wonderful grandchildren, now my goal is to make it to meet my future great grandchildren.”

      Tears. Eyes.

    • Skyler Tanner on June 30, 2015 at 06:11

      I’ve written extensively about the Blue Zones and how there’s a lot to learn. And that said, we must take certain things into account:
      1. Isolated populations, either cultural or geographic, suffer the “Founder Effect” and there’s no getting around it. This reduction in genetic variation means that, while genes only account for 15 to 33% of longevity, they might have the genes best suited for longevity.
      2.It’s hard to prove a negative. Would the lifestyle-credited longevity benefits remain if sugar and flour were added?
      3.Much of the book is hooked on the dietary component and gives a backhanded movement recommendations. Fine, but a recent analysis showed that the variable that most correlated with the longevity of the Sardinia blue zone men (the ORIGINAL Blue Zone, BTW) was *drumroll*…physical activity. Specifically “pastoralism,” grade of the terrain, and distance traveled to a place of work. Not magic legumes, not red wine, not cheese… physical activity!
      4. Don’t even get my started on the vegetarian slant; it’s such a small component of the overall picture that if you’re already eating real food you’ll never need to go that far.

      That said, if more Americans adopted a Blue Zone-type lifestyle, we’d all be better off. Not necessarily magic centenarians, but better. Better is better.

    • Duck Dodgers on June 30, 2015 at 11:24

      Good points Skyler. I agree that it’s more than “magic beans”. But, “Blue Zones” aren’t the only longevity villages. Offhand between the popularized Blue Zones and other longevity villages, here is the list that comes to mind—and I’m sure I missed some:

      Bama, China
      Montacute, England
      Campodimele, Italy
      Hunza, Pakistan
      Loma Linda, USA
      Nicoya, Costa Rica
      Okinawa, Japan
      Yuzurihara, Japan
      Sardinia, Italy
      Symi, Greece
      Abkhasia, Russia
      Vilcabamba, Ecuador

      (China also has a number of other longevity villages.)

      Again, and again we see the same thing over and over. Relatively low meat diets and iron inhibition/chelation—among other things, of course.

      I suppose we can just dismiss all this as coincidence, and chalk it up to genetics and keeping active, but I find it a little strange that there isn’t a “high meat” longevity village or even a “moderate meat” longevity village. If the confounding reasons you stated were the main cause of longevity, we would expect to see a range of diets in these various regions, rather than a commonality around diets that seem to revolve around low meat consumption, grains, legumes and other antinutrients in the context of aging populations with iron accumulation. I’m just not sure how one can dismiss that as coincidence. But who knows.

      Personally, I love meat, but I’m still waiting for the high meat longevity village. When you find it, let me know. :)

      Incidentally, I’ve mentioned this before, but my favorite centenarian is Deacon John Whitman. The deacon ate moderate quantities of meat and lived to 107 years of age, in the early 19th century. He loved to drink milk. It was the only thing he ever over-indulged in.

      From: The Christian patriarch: A memoir of Deacon John Whitman

      “If there was any one article of food of which he ever seemed more fond than of another, it was milk. He often made his meal of this, either in its natural state, or boiled or made into milk porridge. There was a period of his life, between the ages of ninety-five and one hundred, when he almost entirely gave up animal food and confined himself to a milk diet. But, he thought that he experienced a clogging effect from his milk, and he returned to the common diet of the family, eating animal food in moderate quantities.”

      Deacon Whitman was an iron-inhibitor. I keep seeing this pattern amongst longevity diets. Either people reduced or inhibited their iron absorption as part of their longevity strategies. Traditionally people ate a lot of porridges in 19th century New England, but they had access to animal foods and he just loved his milk. But, of course, as you say, there is far more to longevity than diet. I just find it all interesting.

      • Trevor Tanner on March 20, 2016 at 11:14

        Is it possible that the method of food preparation also plays a role? Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) tend to be formed at higher temperatures, so it makes sense that cultures favoring lower-temperatures of food preparation would consume less AGEs and potentially live longer.

    • Rob on June 30, 2015 at 14:18

      I’d say that as someone from the UK that it’s unlikely that what they eat and how they live in Montacute is too different from hundreds of other small villages in the UK.

      I’m pretty sure the same can be said for the villages in the other parts of the world so there has to be more to it than just diet. I’d say that it’s probably something to do with the soil and/or water in the area.

    • Harriet on June 30, 2015 at 16:51

      Duck dodgers,

      When you write about moderate amounts of meat, or low/high levels of iron could you be more specific from time to time? What is moderate to one person could be high to another. So if you could put in brackets what you mean by high/moderate/low on occasions it would be very helpful. It doesn’t have to be after each statement, just enough that when we are dipping into the comments we know what you mean.

    • Duck Dodgers on June 30, 2015 at 18:07

      Rob said: “I’d say that as someone from the UK that it’s unlikely that what they eat and how they live in Montacute is too different from hundreds of other small villages in the UK.”

      Not exactly. Montacute is rather unique in that they grow all their own produce and they drink spring water that is high in minerals.

    • Duck Dodgers on June 30, 2015 at 18:16


      For the most part I am referring to worldwide levels of meat consumption.

      You can click on the right column to easily sort the list and get a sense for what constitutes high, moderate and low these days.

      However, when the deacon’s memoir referred to “moderate” amounts of meat, that would have been relative to meat consumption during the early 19th century.

      Supposedly Blue Zones eat an average of five, 3-4 oz. servings of pork per month. I’d consider that to be “low” meat consumption. As much as many would like to dismiss that low meat intake, it appears to be a rather common behavior of longevity populations. When we look at the big picture, we see that successful aging populations don’t seem to consume much iron.

    • Paleophil on June 30, 2015 at 18:45

      Duck, Interestingly, there are claims that Dr. Toyosuke Komori, the town doctor of Yuzurihara, attributed the high avg longevity of the village to a diet low in iron and high in plant foods. Like the Blue Zones, Yuzurihara diets reportedly tend to include legume dishes, such as bean pastes. That doesn’t mean the legumes are “magic,” but it does raise the question of why the supposedly toxic and non-Paleo legumes are so much more prevalent among longevity regions than highly touted LC “Paleo” foods like red meat. Your question of why no one has noted a longevity village with high meat consumption seems a fair one. I’d be interested to see a response from promoters of meat-rich diets.

      Jack Nakamoto, Jack’s Japonica, 2011, Page 173,

      Bill Sardi, Yuzurihara Reveals Its Secret: Hyaluronic Acid, “The Molecule of Youth,” Purity Products, 2007

    • Duck Dodgers on June 30, 2015 at 18:56

      My thoughts exactly, Phil. And truthfully, I would celebrate a high meat longevity population.

      The French actually have a long life expectancy and their meat per capita consumption is just a bit less than what the average American consumes—which is why we focussed on them in the article. But, as we also mentioned, the French have very high colon cancer rates, which may be related to high red meat consumption for all we know. It’s the closest I could find to longevity and meat.

    • Paleophil on June 30, 2015 at 19:22

      And if we tried to build a meat-based longevity hypothesis on the French, one confounder would be that they also eat plenty of legumes, such as in their tasty white bean and meat cassoulets.

    • Paleophil on July 1, 2015 at 03:47

      Note: Bill Sardi is apparently a controversial source and has the conflicting interest of selling supplements promoted as reducing iron. I found multiple critical links.

    • Skyler Tanner on July 2, 2015 at 08:36

      I think your points were largely non-sequitur to mine (I’m on board with the iron hypothesis generally), but interesting and worth more discussion:

      1. Citing “longevity villages” doesn’t refute my original contention(never mind most are bogus): isolated populations with low gene flow, either geographically or culturally, that have maintained a consistent lifestyle of “big wins” for extended periods of time.

      2.I’m wary of many of these places that claim to have all of this lifespan that offers no way to check against the words of a few. For example, Vilcabamba, Ecuador was thought to be a “longevity valley” where people live to 130+. Turns out that was just a Don Quixote-type story (my wife lived with the man whose grandfather supposedly lived to 130+; he had all sorts of other great tall tales). These claims were false, as studies have elucidated over the years. Why the meme persists, I have no idea (Ditto for Abkhazia & Hunza, as they’ve been falsified).

      Which is why the Blue Zones offer the most “honest” glimpse into the habits of those who live long, especially the amount of research that went into the original Blue Zone, Sardinia (which is why I mentioned it in my above comment: even the researches don’t indicate diet as the prime longevity suspect).

      3. So given the Founder Effect, let’s look at life expectancy of actual countries. From The Economist’s “World in Figures” (and checked on Google’s wonderful analytics search) some of the longest lived countries include Australia, Iceland, Italy, Spain, and France. CIA Fact book confirms this AND includes Hong Kong as being up in the top 3. They also happen to have quite large levels of meat consumption, which begs the question: in mixed populations, how important is meat consumption given improvements in other lifestyle factors (long leisurely meals, social contact, lower food hysteria, adequate movement, etc). Well a Blue Zone offers a clue…

      3. The value of moving to a vegan diet, given high quality lifestyle with minimal extra risk factors, is most easily tested by the Seventh Day Adventists. First, we must acknowledge that, according to the AHS-2 study, that those who consume fish have the lowest hazard ratio for all cause mortality. Fish are meat without feet.

      More important to me though is if we treat diet like a drug treatment and extract the within group number needed to treat (NNT) of Adventists who are omnivores to those who are vegan. When moving from Omnivore to Vegan, the Absolute Risk Reduction is .3% over ~6 years. When you calculate the NNT, you need 325 Omnivorous Adventists to turn Vegan for 6 years during middle age to possibly prevent 1 death. To illustrate how poor this is, it’s been estimated that you need a smoking cessation NNT is 51 to prevent 1 death in roughly the same time period.

      So in that context, the Vegan diet doesn’t look like a lifesaver, just a potential icing on the cake for the exceptionally neurotic because it’s not a sure thing and not without risks, which is why studies of California Mormons, decidedly not vegan, show similar life expectancy gains over the California population as compared to California Adventists.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 2, 2015 at 09:56

      All good points, Skyler. But, again, all I was looking for was why are there no pastoralist villages with similar extraordinary claims. I just thought it was weird.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 2, 2015 at 09:57

      ..Sorry, I meant high meat pastoralists.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 2, 2015 at 21:28

      The Adventists aren’t vegan I don’t think. They have dairy and eggs, I believe.

    • Skyler Tanner on July 3, 2015 at 04:30

      That’s just it: they offer a nice natural experiment because there are all sorts of Adventists in the AHS-2 study (focusing on Loma Linda) including vegetarian, vegan, lacto-ovo, etc.

      Colpo shows the “meat” (yuk yuk) of the participant profiles from a dietary perspective in the table found this post:

    • Jane Karlsson on July 3, 2015 at 06:00

      “These claims were false, as studies have elucidated over the years. Why the meme persists, I have no idea (Ditto for Abkhazia & Hunza, as they’ve been falsified).”

      The claims of Hunza longevity have been falsified? Could you give me details please? McCarrison wrote this in 1921: “My own experience provides an example of a race unsurpassed in perfection of physique and freedom from diseases in general … among these people the span of life is extraordinarily long…”

      Is it this that has been falsified? Or do you mean later claims? Lots of people would have you believe the Hunza were never healthy. They are certainly not particularly healthy today.

    • Skyler Tanner on July 3, 2015 at 07:08


      Claims for the above 3 have been falsified; a summary can be found in the study “Typologies of Extreme Longevity Myths.” You can search Google Scholar for the full text.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 3, 2015 at 08:51

      Well sure. I’ve always thought that emphasis on the “vegetarian” part of the Adventists was bogus, since all other Blue Zones are omnivorous. I’m more interested in the potential upside from, basically, substituting about half of one’s animal food intake for various legumes, in a nutshell.

      Also experimenting with Mexico’s fresh baked whole grain stuff. All stores (even Walmart) have enormous bakeries and everything is baked in-house. Their baguettes and croissants are impressive. Then there the Bolillo.

      There are even 7/11 stores here with their own bakeries.

    • Skyler Tanner on July 3, 2015 at 08:51

      Great points, Richard.

    • Skyler Tanner on July 3, 2015 at 08:53

      (I hit post before I was finished)

      And we have to remember that the data is all survey from the Adventists, and we know how well that works.

    • Jane Karlsson on July 4, 2015 at 03:25

      Thanks, Skyler. As far as I can tell from that paper, nobody has tried to debunk McCarrison. It would be difficult actually, because he was a first rate scientist and very, very careful. The usual strategy is to pretend he never existed.

      I find it quite plausible that the Hunza lived to an advanced age. Their diet was very high in manganese, and MnSOD is linked to increased lifespan.

      “The data suggest that MnSOD up-regulation and a retrograde signal of reactive oxygen species from the mitochondria normally function as an intermediate step in the extension of lifespan caused by reduced insulin-like signaling in various species. The results implicate a species-conserved net of coordinated genes that affect the rate of senescence by modulating energetic efficiency, purine biosynthesis, apoptotic pathways, endocrine signals, and the detoxification and excretion of metabolites.”

  9. sassysquatch on June 29, 2015 at 05:19

    Really not just kissing ass here – but this website is incredible for the questions it raises on food and nutrition.

    I will start ordering all of my Amazon crap through this site……

    Sorry for not doing so earlier.

    Are you still or have you gotten to the point of being pain free from your back surgery?

    • Richard Nikoley on June 29, 2015 at 08:53

      Not pain free, but 99% so. Still a bit of numb in left foot/toes…very common, went away for my brothers, not for dad. However, the healing is such that I’m stepping up activity. Friday I cleaned house for three hours and that night, helped a friend break down his lighting after a rock show at the marina in Cano. Saturday was my best twitch free day since surgery.

  10. MissMcGillicuddy on June 29, 2015 at 06:42

    Apologize if this was covered elsewhere and realize this may seem obvious, but a thought recently occurred to me. As a perimenopausal woman, I’ve been led to believe that my risk of CVD will soon approach that of men due to declining estrogen levels, but the eureka moment for me now is to consider donating blood more often, now that nature is doing that less often for me….and yet, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this as a recommendation in all the menopause guidance I’ve read.

  11. John on June 29, 2015 at 08:01

    I was going to make a joke about how longevity in Pompeii was not related to iron intake. Then I realized that they had ultimate iron levels.

  12. Greg on June 29, 2015 at 08:44

    I’m glad I read this. I’ve been wondering if i could halt or delay the graying of my hair as i get older (late 30s). Maybe iron is it. I eat alot of muscle meat and drink too much beer. Maybe just stop drinking beer. I will try a little experiment with myself.
    Thx for posting.

    • John on June 29, 2015 at 09:16

      Greg, I was getting a few gray hairs on my head, and they disappeared during the time I lowered my iron stores. I was also focusing on copper more (oysters, beef liver, and even some supps), but I think now that iron was a factor. By the way, I’m betting blood shortages would be a thing of the past if donor centers could demonstrate that blood donation could prevent or even reverse graying of hair. Good luck!

    • Greg on June 29, 2015 at 09:49

      John, thanks for the feedback. I bought copper supplements as i read it helps (who knows). I dont like taking supps, so I’ll probably stop and focus on iron. I’ll also try upping my manganese intake.

    • Harriet on June 30, 2015 at 16:59

      Might I suggest you are cautious about too much copper as well. One of our functional health doctors has done a huge amount of work gathering data showing that excess copper really causes major endocrinology problems – hormonal cascades get really mucked up with too much copper. He spends a lot of time getting patients” to drop their levels through chelation (zinc and molybdenum). the body grabs copper when the person is also on antibiotics or oral contraceptives. If you have copper pipes delivering water to the house you are at risk and certainly don’t need additional supplementation, at least in Australia and New Zealand.
      Also thyroid issues are related to greying hair, I’m told by a US functional health colleague.

    • Jane Karlsson on July 1, 2015 at 03:42

      Harriet, does your doctor friend know that blood copper rises during inflammation? It does so because copper is needed for tissue repair, and does not mean copper caused the damage.

      The evidence that iron damages tissues is very extensive, but the evidence that copper does so is sparse and equivocal, at least according to my reading of the literature. Here is an example. In hereditary copper overload (Wilson’s disease) the heart is often found on autopsy to be damaged, but the damage bears no relation to the amount of copper.

      It seems that in cases of apparent copper overload, the problem is not that the copper is toxic, but that it gets stuck somewhere and can’t get to where it’s needed. This means, the symptoms are really due to copper deficiency. Wilson’s hearts often have evidence of hypertrophy, which is a classic copper deficiency symptom.

      Something similar apparently happens in Alzheimer’s disease, where the damaged tissue is copper depleted. Copper proteins are needed for iron export, and it’s iron that causes the damage, Alzheimer researchers believe.

    • Mycroft Jones on August 13, 2015 at 02:09

      Some old recipes specify cooking in copper pots. Anecdote from “Cooking for Geeks”, the chef tried using a copper pot, and was amazed at how differently the dish came out compared to the stainless steel version.

      Jane, any thoughts on copper sulfate, cupric? Bad form of copper for internal use?

      One teaspoon of cupric powder will keep an olympic size swimming pool clear of algae for a year (I’ve heard). I figure I can get that level of dilution by putting a teaspoon into a liter of water, then repeating the 1:200 dilution 3 times, using 3 or 4 1 litre containers.

    • Jane Karlsson on August 13, 2015 at 02:48

      Hi Mycroft
      Yes copper sulfate is rather toxic. Chelated copper is probably a better option, if you think you can’t get enough from food.

      I get all mine from food, and I know I’m not copper deficient because my bones and joints work extremely well. My brain does too, I think. :)

      • Mark on October 18, 2016 at 13:48

        Hi Jane, I am considering eating 100g of lambs liver a week for copper and wondered if you think this is a good idea? I’m not too sure where else to get sufficient in my diet from food? Thank you for your thoughts,

      • Jane Karlsson on October 19, 2016 at 01:48

        HI Mark,
        This is a very difficult question. Getting enough copper is not easy these days. And whether it’s enough will depend on what else you are eating. If you eat meat every day, you wll need more copper, and lambs’ liver may be your best option. But I’m sorry to say I don’t really know.

        Obviously, avoiding refined carbs, which have had between half and all of their copper removed, is a very good idea. But it’s difficult in practice.

        Dairy products have almost no copper, and in addition their saturated fat may inhibit copper absorption. But rather than avoid them, it may be OK if you eat them with whole grains. That’s what I do. But then I don’t eat meat.

  13. John on June 29, 2015 at 17:26

    I jus want to say Thank You to Richard & Duck Dodger for writing about this in more depth. I’m begin to reconsider my dietary philosophy by looking at the micronutrient contenmts of a substance like iron and to be a bit more relaxed about my macronutrient content (i.e., how many carbs, how much protein, etc.)

    Thanks again!

    • Mark on October 23, 2016 at 01:01

      Hi Jane and thank you for your reply. I think liver and cockles are my best bet as my local supermarket has stopped selling shiitake mushrooms unfortunately (which I believe are a great source of copper?) Also, this thread re iron has really got me thinking but I need to comment at the bottom of the link lol. Have a great day

      • Mark on October 23, 2016 at 04:04

        Ah man….. I’m getting more and more confused the more I read! iron is a nutrient I am really struggling with here because, I cannot, for the life of me, see how men and women can achieve 8 and 18mg of iron respectfully per day unless they eat heme iron??? If you take into account only a third of iron is absorbed from meat AND you remember that cooking meat transforms some of the heme iron into non-heme iron, AND you consume the meat with foods that inhibit absorption like dairy, eggs, tannins etc, then HOW are we not actually advised to eat lots of red meat daily?! Now, I read about blue zone populations who consume very little heme iron and you yourself are vegetarian so you must be doing fine, so maybe the advised rda for iron is simply far too high??? If 3 oz of steak contains 3.5mg of heme iron and I only absorb about 1mg of it with the previous factors taken into consideration then I still have to eat a lot of steak per day to reach my rda of 8mg…..yet I am reading that red meat consumption should be limited??? Which brings me back to my original question, if we aren’t to eat red meat, how on earth do we achieve our rda’s for iron?!….agghhhhhh! How did it all end up like this?! Sorry Jane!

      • Jane Karlsson on October 23, 2016 at 04:52

        Yes the RDA for iron is probably far too high. Only 1-2 mg/day is excreted, which means it should be very easy to get enough even if you don’t eat meat.

        Consider this. In the Chinese province of Jiangsu, the incidence of anemia is very high, but the iron intake is very high as well. About a third of the women have anemia despite an average iron intake of 23 mg/day.

        The anemia correlates not with low iron intake but low magnesium intake. In other words, this is not iron-deficiency anemia at all. It’s anemia of inflammation, in which the body deliberately avoids absorbing iron because things are damaged and it wants to avoid more damage.

        Magnesium is very important for preventing damage and inflammation. These people eat white rice, which has had nearly all its magnesium removed. Doctors would say these people have iron deficiency and should eat red meat, when actually they should stop eating white rice.

      • Mark on October 24, 2016 at 05:32

        Hi again Jane, and thank you again for the reply. The rda for iron being far too high would make sense, especially if there is a hidden agenda regarding purposely making us unwell in order to profit from treatments…..however that is a completely different subject…. the rda for iron being a lot lower would help explain the blue zone (what I did call paradox) of them not consuming a lot of heme iron yet not suffering from iron deficiencies. I know we definitely need fibre for our gut flora, so plants, fruits and vegetables would have provided this, along with a type of ‘animal fibre’ duck dodgers discovered which high meat eating cultures like the Inuit got in their diets along with carbs from glycogen in freshly killed meats. Iron requirement now looks to be a lot lower than I first thought so I shall try lowering my red meat intake and see how I feel. One question I have is regarding protein, because, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m sure there are only two sources of complete protein…..animals/animal products and a combination of grains,beans, peas and legumes (which is where vegetarians get their complete protein from) Now we didn’t start eating grains,beans,peas and legumes until rather recently in our evolutional history, so it is fair to say that we had to eat animals every day to meet our protein requirements, but is it fair to say that those animals would have been leaner and not the red meat type? if this is correct then the recommendation to base most meals on ruminants and limit intake of chicken and pork in Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminets ‘Perfect Health Diet’ may not be the best advice after all??? This book is recommended by Richard but I guess it may be a case of trial and error for each individual?

      • Mark on October 24, 2016 at 06:48

        Jane, I forgot to add that you say that only 1-2mg of iron per day is excreted which means it should be very easy to get enough even if you don’t eat meat…. I don’t understand what that means. Did you mean we only need 1-2mg per day??? If so, I’m sorry I misunderstood :/ thanks again

  14. Jer on June 30, 2015 at 03:13

    I don’t know if you’ll consider this evidence, and there are no studies, but it contradict’s Duck’s argument about obesity rates rising since the 50’s due to iron fortification. I maintain that it’s the calories (not a sexy or new theory), and the obesity issue predates the 50’s:
    “Is this new?
    This is not unprecedented. In the 1920s the chief medical officer Sir George Newman held “excessive and unsuitable food combined with lack of fresh air and exercise” responsible for sowing the “seeds of degeneration”. He accepted that some persons “no doubt” were “under-fed” in 1931, but argued that many were “over-fed – giving their poor bodies little rest, clogging them with yet more food”.”
    It involves surveys from the 1930’s, so if that type of data turns you off, don’t bother to read it.

  15. mart on June 30, 2015 at 18:56

    re: coffee, tea, chocolate and dairy – do you know if these have to be consumed at the same time as food containing iron in order to inhibit absorption, or do they work regardless of when? Thanks!

    • Kyle on June 30, 2015 at 19:07

      Yes mart, at the same times is the best practice.

    • mart on July 3, 2015 at 13:16

      Thanks for your answer. Do you know if those things have any inhibiting value if NOT consumed alongside iron foods?

    • Kyle on July 5, 2015 at 12:05

      Shamsuddin in his book on IP6 states that it complexes, in order of chelating ability, with copper, zinc, cobalt, manganese, iron and calcium in vitro. He also notes that the fear of lower availability of essential micronutrients is “based on historic observations in areas like Iran, where the traditional daily nutritional regime involved chiefly the consumption of high phytate fiber pita bread without many other foods serving as sources of minerals, vitamins and like essential micronutrients.”

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 12:33


      When IP6 gets persorbed into the bloodstream, it should just be chelating free metals, correct? I wouldn’t expect it to have the ability to rob minerals out of the mitochondria. In that way, it just seems to sweep away excess minerals.

    • Kyle on July 5, 2015 at 17:08


      Free or poorly liganded as far as my understanding goes. I haven’t found much in the literature concerning robbing minerals except for bacteria robbing minerals from the host. In the case of iron, cells in the liver are constantly fluxing it. Storing it in lysosomes where it’s degraded by one of the phosphatases then expelling it via pinocytosis into the bile where it circulates back to the liver via the portal circulation. It eventually ends up going to the spleen or the marrow.

      Very little research on it has been done except by Shamsuddin and his associates. Shamsuddin wasn’t able to get much published, I think because of his work on cancer. The stuff can’t be patented although they are developing analogs. In his book he mentions research on IP6 being incredibly non-toxic with doses in the tens of grams, twenty something I think. If there were any stealing of properly liganded minerals or interference in the existing enzymes and hormones in the body, we’d know it by now. Africans with a high intake of corn get as much as 40 grams of phytate in their diet.

      It can actually normalizes copper/zinc ratios. There are a number of people in this area that use a lot of it for cancer. I was fortunate to be able to communicate with a medical professional here that used it in her own cancer battle. They buy it by the case. Shamsuddin states that it not only reduces tumor size, it actually reverts cancerous cells to normal thereby avoiding die-off toxicities.

      I used to take it by the handfuls, 600mg caps. No indications of toxicity, inflammation…nothing. Was wondering if it was doing anything good. And I was definitely dumping huge amounts of iron and copper out of my liver. The iron and copper gave me bronze diabetes, large numbers of angiomas and pancreatic insufficiency. The angiomas were gone in six weeks.

    • Kyle on July 5, 2015 at 18:19

      “The angiomas were gone in six weeks.”

      I should clarify that statement. My memory hasn’t served me well, but it’s been 5 years. The disappearance of the angiomas were the result of the intake of large amounts of carrot juice. They were gone by the time I initiated IP6.

    • Jane Karlsson on July 6, 2015 at 05:21

      Phytic acid reverts cancerous cells to normal? That’s exactly what copper complexes do.

      “…Copper complexes also have antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic, and anti-neoplastic activities which may be viewed as resulting from their facilitation of the inflammatory responses required to overcome these disease states. The antineoplastic activity is produced without cell killing.”

    • Kyle on July 6, 2015 at 11:40

      Jane, let’s move the whole of this discussion to this page. The other one takes forever to load for me.

      @ you said:

      “Pauling thought manganese intake should be reduced, did he.”

      We don’t know exactly what appropriate levels of intake are, do we? I was also surprised at the low level he mentioned.

      “He also thought people should take vast doses of vitamin C, now known to cause copper deficiency.”

      Well, he did live to a ripe old age. However, vitamin C wasn’t the only high dose purified substance he was using. That’s pretty obvious in his Unified Theory Therein lies a problem, so many of these things are see-saw balances where the quantity of one has a feed-back loop on the others. How do you decide which has a positive synergistic effect and negative one? I don’t want to end up with a diet of sups.

      I have to take vitamin C because of the refractory scurvy. It just will not go away. The copper may be my problem, but with my experience with the angiomas all over my sides and back, I’m very, very leery of it. Frightened is a better term. See below.

      “You’re taking manganese, are you. What’s wrong with eating high manganese foods?”

      Nothing is wrong with eating high Mn foods. But the initial supplementation is for at least a couple of reasons:

      1. Control. I want to know I’m getting a minimum intake, foods vary in content depending on where and how grown.
      2. Avoidance of fortified foods and iron.
      3. I’m still having problems with carbohydrate intolerance. I’m beginning to think it’s an allergy. I can just look at a tablespoon of rice and my BS jumps 50 points.
      4. To kick out confounding factors. In the past, cotton crops in the south were sprayed with arsenic based defoliants which stays in the soil where used. Where does most rice production in the US occur? The South. And it is correlated with higher arsenic intake.

      I did buy some molasses yesterday. I also noticed that the per cent RDA for Iron (2%) was lower than that for cane syrup (6%). You’d think that the more concentrated molasses would have higher levels. They’re fortifying syrup? Are they trying to kill us? Surprisingly, my BS never went over 105 after 3 teaspoons. Two weeks ago it was bumping 200mg/dl with carbo intake. My BS seems to have normalized over the past two weeks. I don’t know what’s going on there, although I did get back on PS which I’d discontinued and I’ve discontinued carbs for the time being. Don’t jump to conclusions though. The BS leveling happened prior to the Mn sups.

      “Phytic acid reverts cancerous cells to normal? That’s exactly what copper complexes do.”

      And isn’t it interesting that both are involved in iron metabolism! Cancer/Iron relationship anyone? Consider that disease progression in refractory thalassaemia and hemochromatosis goes from inflammation > fibrosis > cirrosis > cancer, all dependent on the degree of inflammation. But having said that, inflammation is the common denominator for disease states.

      It’s so easy to read “always” into titles like that, where “appropriate levels of” would be much more accurate. From personal experience, large amounts of unliganded copper can lead to cell proliferation and neogenesis which is what angiomas are. Given that, while I was getting phlebotomies, my ferritin saturation wasn’t improving, so, aware of the link with copper/iron/vitamin c, I took a copper supplement. Boom! Saturation increased sufficiently that it resulted in a comment from my hemotologist. Iron deficiencies cannot be improved without correction of an existing vitamin C deficiency.

      “Administration of iron to guinea pigs during the progress of development of scurvy did not check the onset of anemia but enhanced it. Iron treatment also could not correct hypoferemia observed in the scorbutic condition although absorption of iron from the intestinal tract was not defective. The absorbed iron was deposited in tissues as hemosiderin. Ascorbic acid seems to be necessary for utilization of iron in the synthesis of hemoglobin.”

      Brief Report: Utilization of Iron by Scorbutic Guinea Pigs
      1965 25: 839-844

      Well, you might say that you don’t have scurvy, there aren’t any of the typical symptoms and besides, it’s exceedingly rare in developed countries. Question – do you have food allergies? Do you get sinus congestion after a meal? Sinus congestion is a symptom of increased histimine levels. Vitamin C destroys histimine in the bloodstream. Now, do you have high histimine because of allergies or because of sub-clinical scurvy exacerbated by mild or moderate iron overload??? If so then fine, I’ll take some vitamin C to take care of that. Not a good idea in the face of poorly liganded iron because it generates free radicals. This doesn’t occur if you take citrate, an iron chelator, with it. Where do you get citrate? Lemons and sodium or potassium bicarb.

      I have all kinds of these relationships on my computer in the form of pdf files. Unfortunately, my computer has decided it can no longer search inside pdf files. So I’m limited on references until I can resolve that issue.

      Jane, do a search on “nutritional sequestration” on PubMed.

    • Paleophil on July 7, 2015 at 20:09

      On a related note, I have seen multiple people report scurvy-like symptoms on chronic VLC diets that they reported were eventually diagnosed as being due to deficiencies in folic acid (folate) and/or vitamin C and other nutrients. The worst reports I saw were from people on all-pemmican diets, usually after having been influenced by the views of Vilhjalmur Stefansson.

      Folate deficiency can reportedly make it harder to treat scurvy: “In ascorbic acid deficiency, therefore, a profound disturbance of folate metabolism will result, the severity of which will depend on the degree of depletion of folates and the disturbance in their metabolism. This would explain why some patients respond completely to ascorbic acid therapy and others require supplementary folic acid.”

      Folic acid and vitamin C were two of the nutrients found deficient in analyses of the Atkins diet:

    • Jane Karlsson on July 7, 2015 at 06:38

      Kyle, I’ve realised I did know about manganese sequestration and had forgotten. Sorry.

      If you are taking vitamin C for scurvy, but it won’t go away, it seems to me that the scurvy might not be due to vitamin C deficiency. Possibly, manganese deficiency. I can see why you want to take manganese, then. Best of luck with it.

    • Kyle on July 7, 2015 at 08:14


      “…it seems to me that the scurvy might not be due to vitamin C deficiency.”

      That statement seems a non sequitor to me. But I understand what you’re saying. All cases of scurvy are due to vitamin C deficiency. But at normal levels of intake, what is causing the high degradation of C? The first clue is that vitamin C is regenerated by the body’s endogenous antioxidant system (glutathione). Inflammation is the key here. In cases of diabetes, it’s known that levels of glutathione are low but this would be true of any inflammatory illness, chronic or episodic. The chronic illnesses appear to be self-feeding mechanisms.

      Did you note the statement from the study in my post above: “The absorbed iron was deposited in tissues as hemosiderin.”?

      This is one of those truly degenerative, vicious descending spiral mechanisms. Iron overload > depletion of glutathione > depletion of vitamin C > increases in tissue hemosiderin (iron overload) > depletion of gluta…, on and on, ad nauseum. A clue about this is the fact that not all cases of cirrhosis are alcohol driven. Some are acquired. But they all start with inflammation.

      Inflammation creates free radicals. Free radicals damage proteins. Isn’t ferritin a protein? It wouldn’t be surprising that the trigger to increased hemosiderin deposition in tissues is damaged ferritin, which is what hemosiderin is. Hemosiderin = degraded ferritin.

      “Possibly, manganese deficiency.”


    • Kyle on July 7, 2015 at 11:06

      Given that ferritin is a melloprotein, I was curious about possible free radical damage to other metalloproteins. Sure enough – “The high efficiency of superoxide dismutase seems necessary: even at the subnanomolar concentrations achieved by the high concentrations of SOD within cells, superoxide inactivates the citric acid cycle enzyme aconitase, can poison energy metabolism, and releases potentially toxic iron. Aconitase is one of several iron-sulfur-containing (de)hydratases in metabolic pathways shown to be inactivated by superoxide.”[1] Well, shades of Stephanie Seneff, can you say diabetes? Are we looking at a possible factor for insulin resistance?

      Jane, please forgive if you’ve made mention of any of this in previous posts.

    • Jane Karlsson on July 8, 2015 at 05:26

      Glutathione synthesis needs magnesium. Look up ‘magnesium inflammation’.

    • Kyle on July 8, 2015 at 12:32

      Jane and Paleophil,

      Thank you for the helpful comments.

      Paleo, I’d been supping with folic acid and it did seem to help for a while, then petered out, then I started feeling bad so switched over to turnip greens.

      I’m limited pretty much to dairy for fats and protein. I try and try to get other things in my diet but eventually get sick. Increasing carbs start out well on the PS but eventually I get higher and higher BS readings while my vitamin C needs skyrocket. Once my retinas start bleeding, I quit. No sense in further debilitating myself.

      Sequence of events look like this –
      Increase carbs > BS increases, Gerd increases, increasingly blurred vision, intestinal and liver inflammation increases, already mentioned vitamin C. If I don’t stop, I eventually get a high, out of bounds reading on the meter. It maxes at 600mg/dl. But the amount of increase in carbs is miniscule calorie wise, totally out of proportion to the amount of increase in BS.

      Intestinal/liver inflammation – I think this may be a gut bug issue. I’ve been taking Probiotic 3, Prescript-Assist and a yogurt w/ 7 lactic acid cultures: S. thermophilus, B. lactis, acidophilus, casei, rhamnosus, L. lactis & bulgaricus. Last time I increased carbs I persisted until I hit 197mg/dl BS. Gut inflammation spread from small intestine to large and was rather intense.

      I finally had enough. Cut the carbs, tried large amounts of crushed garlic. Inflammation spread to kidneys so fasted for 24 hours except for diatomaceous earth to absorb toxins. Much improved but intestinal inflammation persisted at low level. If it’s a gut bug, it really likes carbs, magnesium and sulfur.

      Finally, out of sheer frustration with this constantly recurring theme, I inoculated my colon via enema w/ a 1-1/2 quart solution of water/yogurt/probiotics that I have.

      For now, my BS has stabilized w/ readings no higher than 106mg/dl, intestinal/liver inflammation barely noticeable if at all. I’m up to 3 tablespoons on the molasses, which is encouraging w/ my low BS levels. I’m waking up not as sluggish and I have a sense of greater muscle strength that has become noticeable since starting manganese supplementation.

      Jane, I’d been supping 2X/day w/ magnesium gluconate but stopped until this AM.

      Richard, forget any CANT issues. I’d eat the donut out of the south end of a north-bound mule if I thought it would do any good.

  16. Ben Slater on June 30, 2015 at 10:53

    Please Debunk “The Iron Food Enrichment Hypothesis” of Obesity and Disease

    First part easy – take any calorie restriction diet. You will notice weight loss regardless of food type and/or enrichment, anyone remember Jared Fogle? Calorie restriction trumps iron overload so cannot cause obesity.

    Second part seems very difficult to debunk and very very interesting for people who are at any stage of overweight or obesity!

    • Richard Nikoley on June 30, 2015 at 10:56

      That’s non-sequitur, Ben.

    • Ben Slater on June 30, 2015 at 13:46

      Part of your hypothesis is that iron food enrichment causes obesity and disease. From your post what I’m suggesting is iron food enrichment causes disease in people who are already obese or overweight. And also causes them to become more obese/overweight. But initially calorie surplus get them in to that situation not the iron enrichment of food. I’m not saying it doesn’t enhance the obesity or weight gains, but by itself it isn’t a cause of those.

    • John on June 30, 2015 at 15:44

      Ben, this is one area where I still agree with Gary Taubes- citing a necessary condition is not the same as finding the underlying cause. Of course there was a calorie surplus! But what caused the surplus in the first place? This theory suggests that iron is driving that surplus, maybe by shifting the gut to more pathogenic endotoxin producing bacterial species, maybe by lodging in the hypothalamus and causing a skew towards gaining fat, maybe by building up to toxic levels, and requiring more fat to be somewhat safely stored.

    • Harriet on June 30, 2015 at 17:09

      Ben, don’t get too simplistic. There is no simple cause and effect between “surplus calories” and weight. The studies on Down’s syndrome people still putting on weight when institutionalised and on strict calorie controlled diets is sufficient to debunk that. If they can put on weight with 1000 calories daily then there is something driving that. 900 calories per day – which was what was required to stop further weight increase in some – is below starvation levels and led to starvation driven attacks on the food delivery staff. Sorry I can’t provide the references. It was my past boss who used to work with Down’s syndrome people.

    • Duck Dodgers on June 30, 2015 at 18:25

      “But initially calorie surplus get them in to that situation not the iron enrichment of food”

      Ben, we already covered this.

    • John on July 1, 2015 at 09:26

      Harriet, don’t get too complex. If there is weight gain, there is calorie surplus, plain and simple. If someone is gaining weight on 1000 calories, that amount is creating a surplus for that individual, regardless of what may be considered low for everyone else.

      People with Down’s are not representative of the normal population in many ways – if your claim is true regarding their calorie intake when institutionalized, then it implies they are not representative of normalcy, metabolically as well as mentally. This does not imply there is something more complex than calorie surplus = weight gain.

      “Why do institutionalized Downs patients gain weight at 1000/calories a day?” is questioning why such a relatively low calorie level creates surplus in those individuals.

      Further, triple hearsay isn’t debunking anything. Without citation, we’d have to rely 1. on your recollection of 2. someone else’s interpretation of 3. studies supposedly conducted but not provided.

    • John on July 3, 2015 at 08:47

      Actually, it’s very possible to gain weight on a caloric deficit, or lose weight on a caloric surplus. It happens all the time, and it’s well established- water weight changes. It’s a big deal, too. Water weight changes can mask very real fat loss changes, and can discourage someone who is on a diet that is producing very real improvements. And there is no doubt that the dehydrating effects of a low carb diet helped Atkins build an empire (and a “webpire” for Jimmy Moore, right?).

      Anyway, I would think that weight issues would be one of the last concerns for doctors treating down syndrome patients. And patients with extreme health problems don’t apply to the relatively healthy general public. Patients with Wasting Syndrome can sometimes lose weight with no activity on a diet of 6,000 plus calories a day.

    • gabkad on July 3, 2015 at 12:48

      Maybe institutionalized patients with Downs syndrome get zero activity.

      A 70 kg human who spends all day in a comfortable bed and does nothing needs about 1500 kcal. Or less. So if you have a 50 kg human who does absolutely no physical activity…. who knows how many kcal they need to keep weight constant. Low muscle mass would contribute to low metabolic rate as well. Downs patients have poor muscle tone to begin with. I think using Downs patients as an example for anything is irrelevent. Besides which, degree of disability in Downs varies tremendously. Institutionalized Downs patients are probably at the extreme end of the spectrum.

    • John on July 6, 2015 at 07:51


      I could gain a pound in a few seconds by drinking a pint of water, with 0 calories. The context of my comment was in that of this comment chain – calorie surplus driven weight gain.

      And even accounting for water – if there is a calorie deficit, there will be weight loss over time with short term downward fluctuations greater than upward. I find the mysteries of water masked fat loss fascinating, and something more complex than my “drink a glass of water” example is going on there. Still, if someone in a clinical and controlled setting is eating a strict diet at a deficit, and being weighed every day, there will be a weight loss trend that reveals the deficit eventually.

  17. Duck Dodgers on June 30, 2015 at 12:26

    Where the Iron Hypothesis gets interesting is that you can often explain mysterious results that most researchers and diet gurus are confused about. For instance, in our main article, we covered how coffee, tea, chocolate and dairy can have similar health-promoting activities due their effects on iron. Conversely, we can see how HFCS and Vitamin C can have negative effects in some situations. Or these can be completely reversed depending on the context of the individual or population (i.e. iron replete or iron deficient).

    Well, yesterday a new study surfaced where it was revealed that eating citrus causes cancer. It’s been all over the media today:

    Washington Post: Citrus consumption and skin cancer: How real is the link?

    Even fairly dumb and inconclusive studies like this make sense in the context of iron. The study is nothing more than a headline grabber. It’s full of loose ends. If it were even remotely true (and I have no idea one way or the other) we know that citrus—thanks to Vitamin C—is well known to significantly increase the absorption of iron from foods. And cancer cells are well known to absorb iron.

    All of the diet gurus of the world are confused and are clamoring to explain away this finding which makes citrus look harmful. Yet, in the context of iron, this may be very easy to explain in the context of some common food pairings (i.e. orange juice paired with an iron-enriched breakfast).

    • Kyle on June 30, 2015 at 17:47


      …in the context of iron, this may be very easy to explain in the context of some common food pairings. [iron fortified and OJ

      Interesting thought. Not to mention that most juices are going to have HFCS in them. Also, sodium citrate (bicarb + citric acid)is a iron chelator as is sodium acetate (bicarb + vinegar) but acetate generates oxygen radicals where citrate doesn’t.

      I saw your remark in the comments of the earlier post about anemia of chronic inflammation. Nice catch. You guys are really putting in some effort. I can probably identify the exact article that comes from. I saw a fair mention of hemochromatosis (high iron content in the blood) but nothing on hemosiderosis (high iron content in the tissues). Hemosiderosis is also called idiopathic hemochromatosis but I personally think hemosiderosis would be better at distinguishing between the two. Siderosis can’t be picked up by ferritin tests. It requires either ferro-resonant MRI (fMRI) or liver biopsy. Iron accumulations aren’t restricted to the liver though, accumulations occur in other tissues.

    • Duck Dodgers on June 30, 2015 at 18:52

      Very interesting, Kyle. I wasn’t aware of that. Could have used your expertise when we were writing the article. Thanks.

    • Kyle on June 30, 2015 at 19:27

      Sorry Duck, I’ve been away for quite a while.

      I’ve had the stuff so it consumed my interest for quite some time, with my doc’s not being able to find the rear with both hands. I had to explain it to them.

      I’ve a strange feeling that these aren’t the last of these articles. You guys are on the correct path. As far as I’m concerned there are few of anything to debunk. Consider….what happens when, as a result of a blockage of the common bile duct and a sudden loss of unliganded iron (unbound by ferritin) to the pancreas? Result: Bronze diabetes.

      The iron causes inflammation of the beta cells…hell, your whole pancreas and this is what causes the diabetes. The pancreas is just one of those tissues that will accumulate iron.

      Another note – siderin (iron protein complex) that is deposited in your tissues is nothing more than degraded ferritin. The tissue’s cells encytose it into vacuoles where it is degraded by oxygen radicals generated there for that purpose. It puts a burden on your antioxidant system, i.e., glutathione and the others.

      In the end, I eventually came down with scurvy from it. My legs started turning black. It took a minimum of 8 grams a day of vitamin C just to keep the scurvy checked. You wouldn’t believe how inflamed my intestinal tract was.

      Anything that accumulates in the body is a problem. The vitamin D that they add to milk is just as bad, bone spurs, tissue calcification. Especially bad is anything that accumulates in the liver.

      Have you read Bill Sardi’s piece at his Longevinex site?

  18. Eric on June 30, 2015 at 17:23

    So are any so-called “whole grain” products made with freshly ground wheat? Wouldn’t they also go rancid pretty quickly like a real whole grain flour? What about local bakeries that sell whole grain bread, are any of them grinding their own grain for fresh flour? Grinding can take a lot of time and energy so it’s understandable that people would want to take advantage of economies of scale for that. I’ve noticed that grain that has been sprouted and then dried again is much easier to grind but then sprouting is pretty labor intensive.

    • Duck Dodgers on June 30, 2015 at 18:46

      There are local bakeries that grind fresh. You have to do your own research where you live. Also, Berlin Bakery grinds fresh spelt and Alvarado Street Bakery grinds fresh wheat, and you can find them in the freezer section nationally.

      Freshly ground breads without preservatives just won’t last very long—they quickly become stale. Hence this is why you tend to find the best mass-produced breads in the freezer section.

      We aren’t entirely convinced that flour absolutely has to be freshly ground, but if you can find it that’s great. There is a study showing that Vitamin E, which is believed to go rancid quickly, can stay largely intact for year.

      Also, the Hunza were known to store ground flour in large chests. This should have caused rancidity and loss of vitamins for their whole wheat flour, but they did it anyhow.

      Also, wheat bran is just a fraction of whole grain and many wheat flours are just white flour with wheat bran added (the rest of the grain is removed to avoid the rancidity and increase shelf life). So, the most important thing is to consume whole grain.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 12, 2015 at 08:03

      The Vitamix™ gets too hot and will cook the enzymes before they can do their job in the dough. Wheat was traditionally ground on slow cold stone gristmills. One of the selling points of the Vitamix™ is that it grinds so fast that it can turn vegetables into steaming hot soup!

      I’ve heard of people grinding wheat berries in a cool grind coffee grinder.

      Now’s a good time to discuss the effects of fermentation. Breads are easier to digest as a sourdough. The main goal of fermentation is to reduce the load of the gluten and offending toxins.

      We’ve all seen the complaints by Paleo™ dieters that sourdough fermentation typically does not completely eliminate phytic acid. That’s a very good thing, because phytic acid will inhibit iron absorption even at low concentrations. Scientists have suggested that the way to boost iron absorption from phytate-rich foods is to completely eliminate phytic acid (dephytinization) through the addition of purified enzymes.

      Phytic Acid Degradation as a Means of Improving Iron Absorption (2004)

      Phytic acid is a potent inhibitor of native and fortification iron absorption and low absorption of iron from cereal- and/or legume-based complementary foods is a major factor in the etiology of iron deficiency in infants. Dephytinization of complementary foods or soy-based infant formulas is technically possible but, as phytic acid is strongly inhibitory at low concentrations, complete enzymatic degradation is recommended. If this is not possible, the phytic acid to iron molar ratio should be decreased to below 1:1 and preferably below 0.4:1. Complete dephytinization of cereal- and legume-based complementary foods has been shown to increase the percentage of iron absorption by as much as 12-fold (0.99% to 11.54%) in a single-meal study when the foods were reconstituted with water. The addition of milk, however, inhibits iron absorption and overcomes the enhancing effect of phytic acid degradation. Dephytinization can therefore be strongly recommended only for cereal/legume mixtures reconstituted with water, especially low-cost complementary foods destined for infants in developing countries. In countries where infant cereals are consumed with milk, ascorbic acid addition can more easily be used to overcome the negative effect of phytic acid on iron absorption. Similarly with soy-based infant formulas, especially if manufactured from low-phytate isolates, ascorbic acid can be used to ensure adequate iron absorption.

      So, you have to avoid milk and and completely eliminate phytates—or just add ascorbic acid—in order to get much iron from phytate-rich foods.

      WAPFers go overboard with phytate-reduction, and that’s actually counterproductive in the modern meat-replete world. And some have suggested that WAPFers, like Sally Fallon, have not aged well. But that could also be from other factors like very high meat consumption. Nevertheless, it’s clear that phytates should not be eliminated unless iron absorption is a goal.

    • Walter Bushell on July 12, 2015 at 04:31

      Vitamix owners can make grind there own wheat, and I have done it. They come with instructions on how to make whole wheat bread.

      But it’s terrible.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 12, 2015 at 07:28

      You might want to do the sourdough ferment, which I believe is both yeast and lactobacillus

    • Jane Karlsson on July 13, 2015 at 06:13

      I am not at all sure that phytates should be eliminated even if iron absorption IS a goal. Here’s what a letter in the BMJ said about phytic acid in 1977. (17th Sept, p771)

      …The evidence incriminating phytic acid, based on relatively brief studies on humans and animals, is often at variance with epidemiological evidence, the principal exception being the experience in Iran. In South Africa Blacks in rural areas are accustomed to a relatively high intake of phytic acid. Yet our studies on groups on very high intakes compared with those on lower intakes have revealed no differences in mean haematological values, whether in children or adults. Observations on contrasting groups have revealed no differences in mean serum calcium levels, nor in the mean cortical thickness or other dimensions of the second metacarpal. Indeed, we have found satisfactory calcification even in groups of mothers who have had numerous pregnancies and long lactations. Nor in the groups mentioned have we found differences in the growth rate of children. In our appreciation, Third World experience does not support the view that phytic acid is significantly prejudicial to mineral metabolism or to health. …

      Here’s something else, also from the BMJ in 1977. (3rd Sept, p 636)

      SIR, – We disagree with the suggestion of Drs R J Dobbs and I McLean Baird (25 June, p1641) that the consumption of wholemeal as opposed to white bread involves the risk of developing iron deficiency. The results of their iron absorption studies, which suggest that the absorption of extrinsic non-haem iron is lower with wholemeal than with white bread, are of dubious value. Firstly, their results do not indicate that the intrinsic iron in wholemeal bread is less well absorbed than that in white bread; therefore they are wrong to conclude that the higher iron absorption compensates for the lower iron content of the white bread. Secondly, the wholemeal bread contained about four times as much iron as the white bread; consequently the apparently lower extrinsic iron absorption with wholemeal bread may be a dilution effect. About 29% of the total energy in the average UK diet is derived from cereals, mainly wheat [1]. Widdowson and McCance [2] in a one year study showed that iron deficiency does not result, regardless of whether wholemeal or unsupplemented white flour is used, even when 75% of the total energy in the diet is derived from wheat flour. We agree with Dr Dobbs that vegetarians tend to eat wholemeal rather than white bread. We have studied vegans, a group of strict vegetarians who eat no animal products whatsoever and whose diets are devoid of haem iron; some of these vegans had taken the diet for more than 20 years. Serum iron concentrations, total iron binding capacities, and haemoglobin concentrations were normal and dietary intakes of iron and vitamin C, which increases iron absorption, were much higher in vegans than in the general omnivorous population [1]. We conclude that there is no evidence as yet to suggest that the consumption of wholemeal as opposed to white bread is an important factor in the development of iron deficiency.

  19. Ana on July 1, 2015 at 02:34

    Oh wow! This post aswell as the last article regarding Iron overload has answered a few questions I have had, that no doctor or test could help me answer.
    I now realise that I may be suffering from anemia of chronic disease, I have low Iron btw.
    Low Iron despite gorging on hell of a lot of minced beef, (chicken) and organ meats-I once stupidly stuffed up to 1 Ilb of beef liver in one sitting because I was frustrated I had (still do) acne and thought I needed the “extra” vitamin A, not realising the toxic amount of Iron I would’ve ingested. Coincidentally, I broke out in a brown rash soon after!!!

    Duck Dodgers, I wanted to ask a few questions, hope you don’t mind answering (they’re about diet and nutrition not medical questions):
    1) Is the Iron content in molasses toxic and easily absorbed? I’ve read there are several mg’s in a few tablespoons of molasses.
    Or is the Iron inhibited by other nutrients within molasses: calcium, manganese, magnesium?

    2) Same with Panela (jaggery)?
    I consume alot of Panela sugar and molasses and sweeten coffee with both.

    3) You’ve stated that dairy calcium inhibits heme iron, is the same true for bone calcium? Does it inhibit both heme & non heme Iron?
    I make my own bone powder, from the left over bones after I’ve made stock.

    4) Last question not about Iron, but…..I naively withheld legumes from my “Paleo/low carb-esque” diet. I wanted to know your opinion on canned legumes, I suppose making beans from scratch is superior, but I don’t have the time. So transitioning into the world of beans via canned goods seems alright?

    Appreciate it, if you took the time to answer my questions!

    • sassysquatch on July 2, 2015 at 10:04


      Making beans from scratch takes little effort and costs a fraction of canned beans.
      You don’t need to soak them. Just put them in a crock pot and cook them on low. I f you put 1 lb. of beans in your pot – throw in a pint of salsa – and fill in with water, a couple inches above the beans, season and that’s it.

      You will have to experiment with cooking time and ‘low’ on one crock pot will be different then low on another. I cook black beans on low for 11.5 hours and pinto beans for 9.5.

  20. John on July 2, 2015 at 18:09

    One of the things I keep thinking of is people who lose weight on The Raw Milk Diet, where you consume nothing but milk (although some have tweaked this). Some have even lost weight on what was thought to be maintainence or surplus calories. Milk, of course, is low iron, high calcium, and has some lactoferrin.

    This recap from The Nourished Life is interesting-

    There’s also the case of William Brown, who went from 152 pounds to 138 while basically eating a skim milk and sugar diet of 2500 calories a day, which was “a supposedly adequate caloric intake.” The diet did have 10mg of supplemental iron, but also four quarts of milk-

    • Duck Dodgers on July 2, 2015 at 18:33

      Don’t some people claim that (raw) milk helps reverse diabetes?

    • John on July 2, 2015 at 19:24

      Yep. J. R. Crewe of the Mayo Clinic said that, while his use with the Milk Diet and diabetes was limited, the results were positive.

  21. Catherine H. on July 2, 2015 at 07:15

    This is all fascinating to me. I am so grateful for this information. I am now wondering whether I have chronic anemia of disease. I have been overweight with low thyroid and adrenal problems ever since puberty. I tried to give blood in college and was always turned away because I was anemic. I have been taking iron supplements for years, and eating tons of red meat, but always had a hard time raising my hemoglobin levels, especially during pregnancy. Now, so much makes sense (I would love to think that my fat has been storing all that iron for purposes unknown). As soon as I’ve taught my six month-old to enjoy solids, I’m re-setting my gut with the GAPS diet and getting rid of all that stuff!

  22. S. on July 2, 2015 at 07:50

    Ana and Catherine,
    Usually anemia of chronic disease is associated with elevated ferritin and low TIBC. Did either of your blood tests come out this way?

    I have anemia of chronic disease but I am suspecting that I triggered it by trying to chelate iron using IP6. So I may have some nutrient deficiencies from the chelation. I am trying to see if I can reverse it by quitting the IP6 and getting my micronutrients like magnesium, B12 and B6 back up.

    But apart from nutrient deficiencies, it seems inflammation from a chronic infection or disorder can also cause it. I would go see a doctor. And if indeed you have anemia of chronic disease, adding more iron via supplements or food is probably a bad idea.

    • Catherine H. on July 2, 2015 at 10:52

      I have no idea what the other levels in my blood tests were–the last time I was tested for iron was during my pregnancy. I’ll be sure to contact my doctor and get some more tests done soon. Whether I do have c.a. of d. or not, however,it seems that one of the major effects iron has is to disrupt gut flora, and as I already have many symptoms of gut dysbiosis, fixing my gut is the obvious first step. Thanks for the observations!

  23. RMcSack on July 2, 2015 at 15:12

    Just wondering, but could any of this be validated by animal studies? Specifically farm animals. I know they generally don’t live long enough to develop diabetes, but I would imagine that maybe it can be shown that the fattening of animals in feeding operations is partly due to fortification, and supplements, and not necessarily the grain? I know that it has been linked to antibiotic usage, but there are a lot of CAFO-sourced animals that are antibiotic free nowadays, yet they’re still fattened on grains. Since their diets are a more limited than humans, I wonder if it’s easier to control the variables.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 2, 2015 at 17:20

      I do recall that some studies were done on rats fed enriched flour—and the rats either became sterile or did not survive. So, I believe rats either can’t thrive or die on enriched flour.

      Incidentally, while searching, I did find that breast-fed infants are leaner than formula-fed infants at 1 y of age—though there are too many variables to pin it all on the very high quantities of iron fortification poured into formula.

      The problem with all these studies that nobody ever suspects the iron is a problem.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 2, 2015 at 17:27

      A fun fact about experiments with cattle…

      The Japanese have a taste for lower-heme beef. They prefer the color to be lighter (indicating less heme) and more marbled fat. Amazingly, researchers have discovered that you can lower the heme content of beef by feeding the cattle green tea, which is a chelator of iron. (White tea is good too and has less caffeine).

      Dietary tea reduces the iron content of beef (1999)

      We hypothesized that the lightness of Japanese beef was related to the concentration of heme iron. In Experiment 1, six Japanese Black heifers were allotted randomly to one of three treatment groups: a basal concentrate ration (40% flaked corn) or the same diet and either 2 kg/d wheat bran or 0.5 kg/d green tea. After feeding the diets for 174 d, the cattle were slaughtered and the M. longissimus thoracis, M. semimembranosus, and M. gluteus medius were sampled for meat color, iron, and lipid content. The iron content of the M. semimembranosus from the tea-fed cattle was lower than in M. semimembranosus from the control cattle, and a∗ (redness) and √(a∗2+b∗2) (saturation) values were lower in M. semimembranosus from bran- and tea-fed cattle than in control cattle. Treatment main effects (across muscles) indicated that inclusion of tea in the diet increased intramuscular lipid and reduced the muscle iron content. There was a significant negative correlation (r2=0.79) between muscle iron content and L∗ value (lightness). For Experiment 2, the effect of beef breed type on meat color and iron content of M. longissimus thoracis was investigated using stored meat samples from six breeds from a previous fattening experiment done under a high nutritional plane. Muscle iron content was significantly lower in Japanese Black cattle than in Japanese Black × Holstein or Japanese Black × Japanese Black/Holstein. There was no relationship between muscle iron content and intramuscular lipid content (r2=0.001). In Experiment 3, samples of M. longissimus dorsi were obtained from 17 Wagyu crossbred and 3 Angus crossbred cattle fed a corn concentrate diet in the USA for 148 d. Iron content of the M. longissimus thoracis from Japanese Black and Japanese Brown × Holstein cattle fattened in Japan was significantly less than the iron content of M. longissimus dorsi from cattle raised in the USA. Overall, the data indicate that it is possible to lower muscle iron, and lighten muscle color, by feeding green tea to Japanese cattle; also, there may be a genetic basis for the lower iron, and lighter color, of beef produced in Japan.

      Japanese consumers prefer the taste and appearance of well marbled, lightly colored beef. Highly marbled beef is produced from animals fed more than 2.5 years, but the color of the beef tends to become darker as the animals become older. Imported beef usually is not well marbled and its color is not as acceptable to Japanese consumers. In the Japanese market, the improvement of meat color is a primary focus for obtaining good meat quality. Three experiments were done to investigate the possibility of improving beef color by decreasing the iron content of beef. First, the effect of wheat bran and green tea on meat color was investigated. These two substrates are rich in the concentration of phytates and catechins, respectively (Goto & Nagashima, 1996), which are reported to reduce the absorption of non-heme iron (Disler et al., 1975). The other two experiments were done to test the effects of breed, as a genetic factor, on meat color using several breeds raised either in Japan or the USA…

      …There were two novel observations in this investigation. First, it was possible to reduce muscle iron content, and decrease color saturation, by feeding green tea to cattle. Second, the M. longissimus thoracis of Japanese Black and Japanese Brown × Japanese Black/Holstein cattle contained substantially less iron than the M. longissimus dorsi of cattle produced in the USA, especially when compared at similar ages. Whether this was due to differences in genetics or production practices is equivocal. However, the greater iron content of beef produced in the USA may explain its darker color and subsequently lower acceptance in the Japanese market.

      Even our beef is higher in iron!

      Come to think of it, the French eat a lot of veal. Last time I got veal from the butcher it was very lightly colored. Even the calf liver was lightly colored. I bet calves drinking only bovine milk must have low heme and that’s why their meat can be so light.

    • RMcSack on July 3, 2015 at 09:15

      Intersting. That’s the first time I’ve seen tea consumption associated with increased intramuscular lipids. Normally that’s associated with insulin resistance in humans at least. The odd thing is that lower iron in humans has been found to increase insulin sensitivity ( Makes me wonder if these cows are actually iron deficient?

      On the other hand, intramuscular fat is apparently increased for endurance activity. Green tea is associated with increased endurance performance ( Maybe muscle fat storage is just a consistent side-effect of tea. Fascinating stuff.

  24. giskard on July 2, 2015 at 16:40

    Curious about this “food wisdom” among healthy populations… I can see how taste could have evolved to drive healthy food pairings.

    But how did certain populations (a la WAPF) figure out that pre-soaking grains/beans/nuts is better for you than cooking them straight away? I mean, people in these same populations probably believed in things like rain dances and faith healing.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 2, 2015 at 17:51

      Huh, giskard! I wonder about this too. On the other hand, who thought of putting a bunch of birds in a seal skin, sealing it with fat, and let them ferment–or any of some of the crazy shit people eat?

    • Duck Dodgers on July 2, 2015 at 18:30

      “how did certain populations (a la WAPF) figure out that pre-soaking grains/beans/nuts is better for you than cooking them straight away?”

      I imagine they soaked grains because they tasted better that way to those populations. As Arthur Haines told us in the anti-nutrients post—which we purposefully set up as a prelude to this post—”all indigenous cultures that ate lots of acorns processed them to reduce tannin levels.” Most of those acorn varieties with high tannin levels tasted too bitter. Yet tannins taste really good when paired with meat.

      It seems that the tastebuds aren’t just there so that you’ll crave specific macronutrients—but they are also there to help us crave or detest a certain level of pairings of phytochemicals with various kinds of foods. The French and Masai both figured this out (dairy and/or tannins + meat = crazy good).

      Conversely high tannins on their own—as a staple, such as antinutrient-rich acorns—can be too bitter.

      And I suspect certain cultures just grow up and evolve craving certain things—not to mention one trying to reproduce a nostalgia from childhood. My Korean roommate always craved garlic, so much that even my clothes started to smell like it. Sure, it’s a stereotype, but I suppose he couldn’t help it.

      • Walter Bushell on October 10, 2015 at 13:44

        Groups that had good diets from local sources outcompeted those that did not. Over time a small improvement can lead to a new population with the good diets.

        No magic, just evolution in action.

    • Kyle on July 3, 2015 at 11:27

      Conversely high tannins on their own—as a staple, such as antinutrient-rich acorns—can be too bitter.”

      Not only that Duck, if you eat enough phenolics, you’ll start experiencing some serious pain in your intestinal tract and kidneys. The same is true of tea (catechins). I’ll never forget the warning on the first tea extract I got warning to limit consumption because it could cause kidney damage.

      Let’s not forget that earlier peoples had greater exposure to the elements where a sense of well being and strength were tantamount to survival. There’s no shade on the beach! Right Richard?

  25. Ironthumb on July 3, 2015 at 11:37

    Hey, this article has been added to our Testosterone Linkfest Independence Day Special

    Thanks and EAT YOR EGGS!!!

  26. Jer on July 4, 2015 at 08:02

    Here is an alternate theory – way out in left field. Lack of “Earthing” or “Grounding” matches the timeline from the 1950’s :
    Shows an interesting chart showing the correlation of the trend in diabetes and the increase in synthetic soled shoes.
    Small controlled studies have shown improvement in glucose control, thyroid function, and inflammation. In regards to iron, there is an Inverse relation; with increased grounding, iron levels in the blood go down, and ferritin levels increase. Studies:
    Pretty bizarre stuff. Richard, I guess if your walking around barefoot a lot down there in Mexico, you’re doing yourself a world of good.

  27. Darin on July 4, 2015 at 15:40

    Here’s an interesting Gut documentary that this group will probably enjoy:

  28. John_Doe on July 4, 2015 at 16:42

    I’m very faaaar from being even remotely able to discuss your theory in pure, high-detailed scientific way- and I have always appreciated your work.

    Still- it really struck me that you treated the rest of the, so called, developed world, with the dose of ignorance that huge.

    I live in Poland. Never ever had anything that’d be fortified with iron in my life. Never ever supplemented with it.
    We don’t fortify our foods here. Cows are usually grass-fed. We don’t consume nearly as much grans as French do. Grains are GMO-free.
    And the overall obesity rate increasing at alarming speed- including child and adolescent obesity.

    Finally- here I am. Formerly obese. Cut out these super-healthy totally GMO and fortification- free grains and refined sugar.
    Lost 30kgs (~ 60lbs). Tell me more about iron overload. Tell me more how these grains didn’t make me any harm.
    BTW- Translated “Wheat Belly” became a bestseller in Poland.

    French are thin and healthy- yeah, right, only if you’ve never been there. Grass is always greener…
    You guys in the US have this sweet and touching notion that everyone in Europe is slim and stays slim.
    Given that’s just a load of BS, if you want to make your hypothesis more plausible, limit the audience and cut out the European IP addresses please ;)

    • Duck Dodgers on July 4, 2015 at 19:17

      “I live in Poland….We don’t fortify our foods here…And the overall obesity rate increasing at alarming speed- including child and adolescent obesity.”

      And you are apparently unaware that Poland now has voluntary fortification with folic acid and iron .

      “French are thin and healthy- yeah, right, only if you’ve never been there. Grass is always greener”

      According to the OECD (2012), France had 12.9% obesity, Poland had 15.8% obesity and the US had 28.5% obesity. France also consumes more iron inhibitors than Poland.

      So, yes, the grass is indeed greener in France, and both Poland and France are far thinner than we are in the US.

      * France has a recent “overweight” problem in the past ten years, which correlates perfectly with their recent smoking cessation trends. Anyhow, we were discussing obesity in our theory. Being “overweight” is different from “obesity”.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 4, 2015 at 20:59

      Oh go fuck off.

      Go wank on someone else’s blog. I have no patience for solipsism.

    • FrenchFry on July 5, 2015 at 00:50


      I am a French in my 40’s. When I was a kid, obesity wasn’t something “visible”. Most people looked normal, slender. We used to have this almost sacred rituals around meals: 2 hours break for lunch, no snacks, home cooked foods for the most part, no sweetened drinks at any time, etc. During the 80’s things started to go a little downhill with ultra processed packaged foods invading supermarkets (and even, supermarkets invading cities, phasing out local grocery stores, butchers, etc). The “American Dream” was being sold to the French and city planners, politicians, etc, got lured into easy money. And so on and so forth, you must know the story as well. This lifestyle is at odds with the traditional French one and kids got more and more trapped in it because their parents grew more and more stressed (changing work conditions, etc). It is not yet as bad as in North-America, and the fact that we still rely on properly grown foods with strong culinary traditions is a big factor for resisting what would be a health disaster promoted by this imported lifestyle. I do think that Duck Dodgers has a point with food fortification for I have experienced it on myself when I was staying in the US for weeks and even months at times. My health always went downhill there. It is probably a huge influence in the metabolic mayhem that plagues the North-American population.

    • John_Doe on July 5, 2015 at 02:42

      OK, I didn’t realize my harsh sense of humor at the end of my comment will be taken so seriously.

      Richard- I do apologize for, believe it or not, humorously calling the hypothesis “BS”. As mentioned, your work is highly appreciated and I do respect you.

      So let me be more clear, as it’s quite unfortunate that solipsism was the only thing you saw reading my comment;

      I’m pointing at the fact that in the huge majority of European countries, iron-fortified foods are not commonly consumed and yet we can and we do become overweight and obese.
      BTW- theoretically, iron fortification is not forbidden in Poland, but it’s virtually non-existent for grain products (and I don’t think any products at all, for that matter).
      Folic acid and other B vitamins- yes, mainly breakfast cereals (that are not so popular anyway), but iron- no. I just did some digging in more documents.

      I once heard all that it takes to ‘debunk’ a white swan theory is to find a black swan; You called it a ‘theory of everything’, right? :)
      I also do remember the decisive statements in your hypothesis about Europe allegedly consuming a lot of wheat/grains and allegedly being so slim.
      Neither is really true. Just wanted to point it out.

      Showing the photo of a French bakery, quoting the ‘paradox’… it’s really not that simple. But from the marketing perspective- oh yeah, there’s effectiveness.
      I hate to say this (I’m on the same side of the fence and I’m all for ancestral health approach), but compare portion sizes + general food habits between Europe and the US and you’ll get a broader picture than just iron fortification. YET- even if you are a European and are prone to overeating/obesity(for various reasons here, as we know…) , you will eventually become obese. With no iron added at all.

      So France is 12,9% obese, Poland is almost 16% and the USA is 28,5%. Given the first two (definitely Poland, even though it’s legal) practically don’t fortify with iron, it’s really kind of weak evidence for iron fortification being the driver for obesity :>

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 05:46


      You obviously didn’t read the original article very closely. It is possible to promote iron overload without iron fortification. Fortification was just one piece of the puzzle. For instance, while the phenolics in moderate wine consumption may inhibit some iron absorption, alcohol consumption—in particular beer consumption—will increase iron absorption.

      Poland has very high beer consumption, which promotes iron absorption.

      Please do not make the mistake in thinking that this just about fortification. It’s not.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 5, 2015 at 19:36

      John D, ok so far as the vitriol. Looks like Duck addressed most of it.

      You’re misrepresenting the hypothesis. I just did a 2-hour podcast recording with Angelo Copolla this morning, half about my expat status and half about these posts. Summary.

      The hypothesis is that iron answers most everything. How do we get it?

      – overconsumption of meat
      – underconsumption of minerals iron plays well together with, like manganese and copper
      – loss of cultural traditions that paired food in ways that inhibited iron
      – inadequate consumption of the chief inhibitors during a meal (a pot of coffee on an empty stomach does nothing)
      – fortification

      Fortification is just one thing but it’s a big thing because it’s public policy.

      Then there’s the other thing, which is potentially the big elephant in the room, which is gut disbyosis from undigested iron in fortified food.

      Moreover, America’s food culture and global market is so globally ubiquitous, at least in urban areas, that it renders n=1 meaningless, for we don’t know what fortification is slipping in to otherwise unfortified countries.

      Finally, your Black Swan analogy is bullshit and you should know why without me explaining it.

    • GTR on July 6, 2015 at 12:46

      @Duck – It’s not valid to compare Poland and France without taking history into account. In France you have centauries of unbroken culinary traditions. Strong both culturally, supported by habits, formal policies, as well as strong commercially and well marketed – being able to win on the market with modern industrial creations.
      In Poland communism transformed food production from traditional model into a standarized, uniform (in the entire country) industrial model, though based on so-so government norms (stricter than modern UE norms). But the communist industry was not able to provide adequate supply, especially to the large cities. Population was underfed, the system was not liked. Then the communism fell, and this underfed population was exposed to unlimited supply of western and wester-recipe junk foods, supported by strong marketing. Not a good scenario.
      On the plus side the tobacco consumption in Poland has been is dropping from the crazy rates like 65% of men and 32% women in 1982, and 3,600 cigarettes per adult person per year 1992 (1st place in the world) to the much lower numbers, but still much higher than France (Poland – around 1600 cigarettes/person/year, France around 850 cigarettes/person/year).
      When it comes to heme iron Poland is an anomaly in Europe when it comes to beef consumption: per person, per year beef consumption in recent years has been staying around 2 kg. Lamb and mutton being close to zero. France is near USA with this parameter.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 6, 2015 at 12:56

      Good points, GTR. And we have pointed out that populations may increase food consumption after smoking cessation. I don’t think smoking cessation is the main cause of obesity, per se, (we see obesity as an inflammatory condition), but I think smoking cessation can trend populations towards becoming more overweight.

      For instance, France’s recent trend for smoking cessation correlates very well with their recent trend of becoming more overweight. And it’s such a new trend that we can’t associate it with their long tradition of high wheat/flour consumption.

    • GTR on July 6, 2015 at 15:33

      From one of the Jack Kruze’s articles (if it is correct) one can conclude that Niacin + vinegar + excercise + some morning carbohydrates combination has a potential beneficial effects (raising both NAD+ and SIRT 1 together) high enough to be able to replace nicotine. If it is correct then the answer to weight gain after smoking cessation is to use this combination – available and cheap one.

      “Nicotinic acid, also known as niacin, is converted to nicotinamide in vivo. Nicotinamide is a NAD precursor, but use of this supplement reduces SIRT 1 production in cells. Therefore its supplementation, lowers the health building effects of NAD+. Nicotine seems to have the opposite effect by significantly increasing SIRT1. […] Vinegar is more powerful than coffee is in raising SIRT1. Lowered SIRT 1 levels will act to age cells much faster by allowing higher ubiquitin rates in cells. […] The return of a superoxide pulse is what is needed for mitochondrial regeneration in all humans. We can get this from nicotine, exercise, or from small amounts of morning carbohydrates.”

  29. mart on July 5, 2015 at 09:28

    Have there been any studies on the impact of the hormones in birth control pills excreted out into the environment? I would have thought this would have many side effects on health. I guess, in the early decades after the pill was introduced in the 60’s there would not have been enough of a build-up in the environment yet to have an effect. But here we are now after trillions of doses have been taken and excreted, and that must have had some effect.

  30. John_Doe on July 5, 2015 at 05:59

    Hi Duck,

    I’m with you on beer (and alcohol) in Poland, though I personally don’t drink at all.
    On the other hand- why don’t you check Poland’s tea consumption (depending on the source, 3rd or 4th from the top in Europe)? And so the story goes…

    Many people here already pointed out that iron can be correlated with pretty much anything.

    And I know it’s not about fortification per se, but fortification seems to be heavily emphasized in your article and marketing-type examples of French bakery are given.
    Just saying that it’s not that simple. And that with the current data (and also my n=1, LOL, just wanking) by no means can your iron hypothesis be considered ‘a theory of everything’.
    Even if it could be, then not on the basis of showing French bakery, saying the French consume tons of wheat and stay slim.

    I personally never drink alcohol, but take in ~ 5 cups of green tea (leaf, organic) every day.
    Still- I was obese until I cut out normal, non-GMO and non-fortified wheat and processed sugar. Also- just saying, so that nobody sees me wanking here :)

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 10:03

      “but fortification seems to be heavily emphasized in your article and marketing-type examples of French bakery are given.
      Just saying that it’s not that simple…I was obese until I cut out normal, non-GMO and non-fortified wheat and processed sugar”

      And yet, the French eat significant quantities of those foods and have one of the lowest obesity levels in the civilized world. Your n=1 is fairly unreliable when we have millions of French who prove otherwise. For all we know, you just had micronutrient deficiencies, which would make you unable to properly metabolize carbohydrates.

      I hardly see the point in focussing on your n=1 when we have far more data than that those demonstrates a clear pattern.

      But, by all means, keep telling us how you’re single experience is more important than all that.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 10:22


      Also, you are exaggerating Poland’s obesity. We do not see Poland as having very much obesity at all according to the actual OECD data. And we see a very clear jump in obesity in countries that have fortification. So, I’m not sure what you’re even talking about here beyond your own unique metabolic issues. Your own issues could be due to anything gut related.

      You can deny the actual data all you like, but the statistical difference between Poland (13%) and France (16%) is minimal at best, and could easily be explained by Poland’s voluntary fortification alone.

      If you want to keep burying your head in the sand about that, be my guest. Otherwise, you’re just being a troll.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 10:25

      Whoops. Got the numbers switched around. Should be Poland (16%) and France (13%).

      The USA is 29%. This all falls in line with what we’ve been saying.

    • John_Doe on July 5, 2015 at 13:59

      OK Duck,

      No issues and certainly no offense here. One more comment and I’m gone- been on the Internet for too long to bare with trolling accusations.

      But again, I’m so stunned by your recent comment.
      Is it more like scientific exercise or you’re into the new hypothesis so much that you think you’ve found a holy grail?

      Difference between 13% and 16% could be explained by ‘voluntary fortification’? (Never mind I told you practically no foods are fortified here even though it’s allowed).

      Swarms of people going paleo/primal/low-carb/PHD/whatever, ditching wheat (and sometimes coffee!), processed foods and embarking on daily steak and red meat and leaning out, but it’s still iron fortification / not only fortification, depending on the argument you need to discuss?

      My issues being UNIQUE? Oh geeez…
      Am I the only one in the non-US world who dropped non-fortified wheat and processed foods and lost weight (+ regained health and well being)?
      And going back to data, it’s 16% of people here being obese without iron fortification (it is or is not the reason here?) Magic.

      I understand the whole decade of ancestral health community work has been totally in vain- including Paul Jaminet’s.
      Heck, even resistant starch is worthless now isn’t it… All that matters is iron! Feel free to stuff yourself with wheat and sugar:)

      Now, seriously. I can consider iron factor being one of many influencing our health in modern environment.

      And having said all that, I still need to thank you and admire the amount of work you put into the hypothesis article.
      So, again, thank you and I’m shutting up now (though I’ll let myself continue reading this blog). Good luck!

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 14:31

      Obesity is an inflammatory disease, and we have never claimed that iron is the only cause of inflammatory diseases. And I’ll thank you not to twist our words.

      Some people. like yourself, become inflamed with wheat—something we’ve acknowledged all along. That a relatively small percentage of the population is like that is not exactly surprising. You cut out wheat, and the inflammation subsides. Congratulations.

      But to claim that Poland has significantly more obesity than France is a complete fabrication. Statistically, they are almost identical.

      We have focussed on the significant obesity differences between countries, which we believe are explained by fortification. You haven’t debunked that and frankly, you seem to be oblivious to that.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 16:09

      John_Doe said: “Never mind I told you practically no foods are fortified here even though it’s allowed”

      That’s complete bullshit, btw.

      Here’s a quote from a recent study in Poland that shows otherwise…

      From: Homocysteine Serum Level in Relation to Intake of Folate, Vitamins B12, B1, B2, and B6 and MTHFR c.665C > T Polymorphism among Young Women

      Respondents were asked to report all meals, food products, beverages, fortified products and dietary supplements consumed during those days…As our previous surveys indicated that a lot of people in Poland were not conscious that they used fortified products, data on habitual fortified food products intake during the last month were collected by means of the FFQ method. All food intake data were checked with the use of specially prepared for the purpose of this study album of fortified food product photographs available on the Warsaw market. Then 3-day records were corrected appropriately changing not fortified product to fortified if it was needed…

      … Dietary supplements usage was a common practice among students. About 61% of them took at least one vitamin and/or mineral preparation in the past year. Fortified food products intake was declared by 70% of participants. More detailed analysis indicated that more than 28% of women took dietary supplements and fortified products at the same time. Similarly such practice was also observed among children aged 7-12 years in Warsaw, where 18% of them were administered both products (supplements and fortified food) simultaneously.

      Unfortunately John_Doe, you’ve just lost all of your credibility. After your exaggeration of Poland’s obesity epidemic, I think we’re done here.

    • John_Doe on July 5, 2015 at 16:16

      I guess my credibility (or lack thereof, for that matter) is of no difference to you anyway.

      Just wanted to point out again what was said before.

      I clearly stated the fortification with B-vitamins is present (pre-packaged, processed breakfast cereals rather than freshly baked breads, but still..), whereas iron fortification is virtually non-existent.

      As we went on speaking about iron overload, it became clear to me we were focusing on iron fortification. That’s precisely what I meant by saying ““Never mind I told you practically no foods are fortified here even though it’s allowed”

      Your reply is a study about B vitamin fortification…

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 17:33

      John_Doe said: “I clearly stated the fortification with B-vitamins is present (pre-packaged, processed breakfast cereals rather than freshly baked breads, but still..), whereas iron fortification is virtually non-existent.”

      Actually, what you said is this…

      John_Doe said: “theoretically, iron fortification is not forbidden in Poland, but it’s virtually non-existent for grain products (and I don’t think any products at all, for that matter). Folic acid and other B vitamins- yes, mainly breakfast cereals (that are not so popular anyway), but iron- no”

      Again, more bullshit. You’re claiming that Polish products aren’t fortified, yet here is a study examining iron fortification in Polish packaged foods:

      Evaluation of The Content and The Potential Bioavailability of Iron From Fortified With Iron And Non-Fortified Food Products (2011)

      The objective of this study was to determine the content and the release of iron from fortified and non-fortified food products available on the Polish market…A group of 29 fortified with Fe and non-fortified food products, such as cereal products (16) and confectionaries (13), were purchased from local market between October and November 2009…It was found that most of the fortified with Fe food products had significantly higher amount and the potential bioavailability of this element in comparison with the non-fortified analogues…Most of the analysed food products fortified with Fe had significantly higher contents and total and relative bioavailability of this element in comparison with the non- fortified analogues”

      The study was specifically designed to compare very similar packaged products of fortified and non-fortified foods. The study lists the following examples of Polish cereal and confectionary products that are fortified with iron:

      Corn flakes, Nestle
      Honey flakes Honey Chrups, Otmuchów
      Flakes Shelly Chrups, Otmuchów
      Balls Nesquik, Nestle
      Muesli Fitness Fruits, Nestle
      Flakes Cookie Crisp, Nestle
      Flakes Dotty Chrups

      Confectionary products:
      Cookies Miśkopty, Nestle
      Cookies Go! musli z owocami LU
      Cookies Go! Kakao
      Cookies Go! 4 zboża + mleko

      All of these products were found to be fortified with Fe-reduced, which is highly bioavailable. Most of the products had more iron fortificants than the label expressed. Cookies Miśkopty had almost twice as much iron as the label stated.

      John_Doe, you’ve exaggerated and lied in your comments. There’s nothing really left to say. The jig is up.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 6, 2015 at 12:35

      “Believe it or not, but corn flakes and other breakfast cereals are very far from being popular here. I had some of these like 15 years ago last time”

      Out of curiosity, I looked this up too. It’s also false.

      In 2003, the Polish people consumed 31,500 tonnes of breakfast cereal—most of which was marketed towards children. The Polish breakfast cereal market was worth $106 million in 2004 and their market was projected to grow by 5.9% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate).

      By 2010, sales of Polish breakfast cereals outpaced expectations with impressive growth and annual increases of 9.55% in value, rising to US$261.38 million. Volume sales increased by 8.87%, from 45,260 tonnes in 2010 to 49,670 tonnes in 2011, while volume growth increased from 2006 to 2011, with a CAGR of 10.27%. Children accounted for approximately 50% of total breakfast cereal sales. Furthermore, breakfast cereals are documented to be widely available in “almost every grocery store.” [Source]

      By 2010, it was reported that Poland was eating less bread and more breakfast cereal.

      Bread consumption on the wane in Poland

      There has been a gradual reduction in demand for bread in Poland, according to Rzeczpospolita. In 2009, Poles ate 59 kg of bread per capita, which is 2 kg less than in 2008… The reduction in demand is a result of price rises. Since the beginning of 2010, the prices of bakery goods have increased by 10% because of price rises on the flour market. The decline in the consumption of bread has also been prompted by the growing popularity of other foodstuffs, such as breakfast cereals, mueslis and snacks.

      So, obesity trends have increased as traditional bread consumption has decreased and breakfast cereal consumption has increased. Hmm…

      According to a casual student questionnaire on generational eating habits breakfast cereals were very popular with young students, but less popular with older adults. I suppose this may explain why John_Doe does not know anyone who eats cereal.

      Anyhow, it’s clear the demand for breakfast cereals in Poland is steadily increasing each year. Adult consumption of breakfast cereals seems low, but it appears to be quite popular among Polish children.

    • Jane Karlsson on July 6, 2015 at 06:29

      @John Doe
      Was the wheat you were eating whole or refined?

    • John_Doe on July 6, 2015 at 06:46

      Hi Jane,

      Both types, with statistically, over the years, more refined than whole. Natural, unfortified stuff mostly.

      @ Duck,

      As the questions are being asked, I’m answering them, but not going to argue and troll (if you think that’s trolling).

      Let me just tell you again that the reality is *reaaaly* far from what you can see from one single study.

      Believe it or not, but corn flakes and other breakfast cereals are very far from being popular here.
      I had some of these like 15 years ago last time. Don’t know a single person who consumes the stuff regularly. I do know a lot of overweight/obese people who’d use dropping like 50 pounds though.

      So yes- technically, I am wrong and “lied in my comments”, because you were able to find a few brands of breakfast cereals that were fortified. Point taken.

      Practically, it has so much in common with the overweight / obesity issues as this photo of French bakery ;)

    • Duck Dodgers on July 6, 2015 at 07:37


      You’re still not getting it. It’s not just breakfast cereals as you keep implying. I showed examples of Polish confections and cookies that are being fortified with highly absorbable reduced iron.

      In France, they don’t fortify their confections with iron.

      Please take your head out of the sand. This is getting ridiculous.

    • GTR on July 6, 2015 at 15:08

      To add to the confusion: the link between Poland consumption and French cuisine is that big-store type retail market is dominated by French companies, who bake their most popular products on their own. What kind of flour they use – I don’t know.

      To add to the confusion #2 – there are flours and gruels on the market enriched in both calcium as well as iron together. Marketed as good for children.

      It also looks that producers of iron supplements or iron supplemented products kind of now something about iron overload at least in older men and try to market products with less iron for older people and product with more iron for young people. A good example are Centrum multivitamins “men over 50” with no iron (but with 44% RDA in a version for women over 50! – and half of B12 of men’s version ) as well as “adults under 50” versions at 100% RDA (18 mg) of iron. It has always been like that – older formulations of these MV for people over 50 having 25% RDA of iron (still a lot) – less than young people version.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 18:06

      Awesome stuff, John. But amazingly, this doesn’t debunk it. But, I’m glad you brought it up as it made me investigate something I’ve been meaning to look into.

      I had read somewhere that one can only absorb so much heme from meat in one meal, and if one were trying to absorb a lot of iron, it’s more effective to eat many small iron-rich meals rather than one or two large iron-rich meals.

      So, that implies that meat-binging—as we see with competitive eaters, or after an occasional big kill—should not result in any increased heme absorption. While consistently eating small amounts of meat with every meal should result in higher iron absorption.

      I wasn’t sure if that was true or not. But, then I came across this…

      Here’s a study suggests that while heme iron is easily absorbed, one can only absorb a limited amount of heme in one meal.

      Heme-Iron Absorption Is Saturable by Heme-Iron Dose in Women (2003)

      “In our study we found that heme-iron absorption was saturable. Heme-iron absorption after ingestion of physiological doses of hemoglobin and myoglobin is limited; however, the mechanism by which this is produced is not clear. It seems that one of the limiting factors would be the uptake of the heme into the enterocyte, whatever the mechanism. Roberts et al. indirectly demonstrated the presence of a binding protein of heme on the brush border of the rat enterocyte and showed that the capture of heme by the mucosa directly increases the amount of the binding protein on the brush border. They speculated that this binding heme protein may be saturable. If the mechanism of endocytosis proposed by Wyllie and Kaufman is correct, it would be a barrier that limits the intake of heme-iron into the enterocyte.

      In summary, our results strongly suggested that the absolute maximum amount of iron absorbed from freeze-dried red blood cells containing over 15 mg of iron as heme is 2 mg, showing that heme-iron absorption is saturable. Further investigation is needed to explain the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon in consumption of actual meals and in subjects of varying iron status. The saturability of heme-iron absorption may be a protective factor to avoid iron overload when iron intake is provided primarily by consumption of meats or blood”

      The effect is illustrated in Figure 2. Basically it looks like if you consumed 10mg of heme or 50mg of heme, you’d just absorb ~2mg of iron from that meal.

      The same study showed that large amounts of non-heme Ferrous Sulfate can be absorbed if enormous (and unrealistic?) quantities were eaten. (In the context of realistic quantities it would seem that the iron inhibitors are what ultimately determines the amount of iron absorbed).

      So, if heme from meat is easily absorbed, but only so much is absorbed in one meal (saturable), this validates the idea I’ve heard that eating meat in every meal results in higher iron absorption than binging on the same amount of meat in one sitting (i.e. meat binging after a big kill or enjoying a big Sunday night Prime Rib).

      Pretty neat.

      • Mark on October 23, 2016 at 01:24

        I am sooooo glad you have mentioned this Duck, because I have been reading this blog with great interest as a regular red meat eater and I also read recently about how only a certain amount of iron is absorbed from meat (between 15 and 30% I’m sure was the figure I read) If you also take into account that cooking the meat transforms some of it into the harder to absorb non heme iron, then are we really absorbing that much iron from red meat? If 100g of ground beef contains 3.5mg of iron and only a third of this is absorbed, plus not all of it is now heme iron after cooking, then I am going to need quite a lot of this meat to reach my recommended 8mg a day (as recommended by the NHS here in the U.K.) I understand we can increase absorption by eating foods high in vitamin C with iron rich foods, and that fruits and vegetables will contribute to our iron intake,but even so, I still think you would need to be eating a hell of a lot of these foodstuffs to reach your rda for iron. Women need even more, 15mg of iron per day. Therefore, could it be that getting iron from natural foods, whether animal or vegetable is fine, but massive amounts through fortification are where the real problems arise? Also, I have read about the blue zone populations who eat very little iron rich foods, but crucially, I notice that they also seem to avoid massive amounts of polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils. I think these are the main culprit regarding a lot of modern day industrialised diseases and health problems due to the massive amounts of omega 6 fats in them. If you avoid vegetable oils and fortified foods then I think you should be fine eating lots of red meat. I recently looked up ‘meat consumption in England’ over the years and as far back as Tudor times people in England ate a lot of meat and people living in the latter half of the Victorian age also ate huge quantities of meat, red meat included. People also lived to ripe old ages in these times with infant mortality in the slums due to diseases like cholera bringing the life expectancy age down. So, do you feel red meat daily is fine, and avoidance of fortified foods along with avoidance of vegetable oils and foods containing them as a safe way to eat? Regards, Mark, (and I would just personally like to thank yourself, Richard and all the other contributors for creating a truly amazing and thought provoking series of topics)

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 18:14

      And I would speculate that the saturable 2mg figure may be influenced depending on the co-consumption of iron absorption enhancers (HFCS, Vitamin C) versus iron absorption inhibitors (dairy, calcium).

    • John on July 5, 2015 at 19:33


      That’s really cool! I’ve always thought the super lean competitive eaters were an outlier that no one could really explain. I crunched the numbers on Joey Chestnut, and he seemed to be eating 1/3 of his YEARLY calories in 24 competitions!

      But if Iron Absorption is saturable (and calories and macros maybe are too?), that would imply that an occasional feast could be implemented in weight loss diet with less damage (or caloric intake) than one might think. I know that Tim Ferriss promotes this idea, but his weekly binge day might be too long of a feast too often.

      This also jives with a recent trip to Vegas I took. I decided to hit one of the buffets on my trip, and skipped lunch that day, and WENT FOR IT that evening. I wasn’t hungry till lunch the next day, either. I’m currently tracking all my food intake, and was a bit looser with it in Vegas, but I was still 1 pound lighter when I got back home. THAT was a first!

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 20:33

      Well, I’m now thinking that once a week serving of iron-rich liver is nothing to worry about, particularly if you have some calcium rich mineral water or dairy with it. I’d be willing to bet that having one big serving of meat once a day—rather than with every single meal—works well for some too.

      And I can also imagine a big kill/feasting not being a daily event back in the day.

      Pretty interesting.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 5, 2015 at 20:41

      I suppose the main downside of eating large amounts of unabsorbed iron, in one sitting, would be the effects on the colon. But, I’ll bet that depends on the frequency of such a practice and the amount of fiber consumed. After all, we evolved with some level of meat binging.

    • John on July 5, 2015 at 21:54

      Also, heme iron offers at least some protection against bacteria. Supplemental iron offers none.

    • FrenchFry on July 5, 2015 at 22:41

      Liver paté FTW :)

    • GTR on July 6, 2015 at 14:14

      @Duck – ” Basically it looks like if you consumed 10mg of heme or 50mg of heme, you’d just absorb ~2mg of iron from that meal.”

      So how that affect that advice of iron promoters to eat heme iron with nonheme iron to increase absorption of heme iron? Does eating heme + nonheme iron helps to moderate non-heme absoprtion from both sides, or is it “always more”?

      “The following factors will increase the iron absorption from non-heme foods:

      A good source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) – i.e., oranges, grapefruits, tomatoes, broccoli and strawberries, eaten with a NON-HEME food
      A HEME and NON-HEME food eaten together
      A NON-HEME food cooked in an iron pot, such as a cast iron skillet”

    • Duck Dodgers on July 6, 2015 at 16:09


      Yep. But it gets a bit more complicated as you pair meat with non-heme iron rich foods as GTR mentions…


      So, we know about the “egg effect” (eggs inhibit iron absorption), but there’s something called the “meat effect” where meat is believed to increase the absorption of non-heme iron in a meal.

      Honestly, we had so much to cover, that we just didn’t mention it in the big article. Basically eating meat causes you to absorb more non-heme iron from other sources. I was never quite sure how big or small the effect really was.

      And we had seen that high saturated fat meals tend to increase iron absorption and decrease Manganese absorption, which seemed an awfully lot like the so-called “meat effect.” We even wondered if the fat was one of the mechanisms behind the “meat effect.” But one study that puzzled us was this one:

      Oily Fish Increases Iron Bioavailability of a Phytate Rich Meal in Young Iron Deficient Women (2008)

      Background: Iron deficiency is a major health problem worldwide, and is associated with diets of low iron bioavailability. Non-heme iron absorption is modulated by dietary constituents, one of which is the so-called “meat factor”, present in meat, fish (oily and lean) and poultry, which is an important enhancer of iron absorption in humans. Food processing also affects iron bioavailability.

      Objective: To evaluate the effect of consuming sous vide cooked salmon fish on non-heme iron bioavailability from a bean meal, rich in phytate, in iron-deficient women.

      Design: Randomized crossover trial in 21 young women with low iron stores (ferritin < 30 μg/L). Two test meals were extrinsically labelled with stable isotopes of iron (Fe-57 or Fe-58). Iron bioavailability was measured as the incorporation of stable isotopes into erythrocytes 14 d after meals consumption.

      Results: The addition of fish to the bean meal significantly increased (p < 0.001) iron absorption. Serum ferritin concentration and iron absorption were inversely correlated for both the bean meal (R2 = 0.294, p = 0.011) and the fish and bean meal (R2 = 0.401, p = 0.002).

      Conclusion: Sous vide cooked salmon fish increases iron absorption from a high phytate bean meal in humans.

      We thought the effect should mainly be from saturated fat, but the researchers attributed it to the “meat effect.”

      I almost hesitate to bring it up since I’d rather not overanalyze food that much. I dunno. Not even sure how traditional that pairing is of beans and salmon

      Perhaps meat is best eaten with low iron starches, like potatoes.

    • John on July 6, 2015 at 07:32

      This discussion also reminded me of the tolerable upper limit for iron. For most people (except pregnant women, and maybe people with anemia), the tolerable upper limit for iron is set at 45mg a day. To get this from meat, you’d need to eat in the neighborhood of 3-5 pounds, depending on the cut (2 pounds of beef liver could do this, fyi). Certainly possible, although I doubt that’s a common daily occurrence, even among paleos and low carbers. But if you’re eating Total Cereal, you could blow thru that limit by eating 90g, which is 300 calories. That could easily be done by an individual on a daily basis. And at that large a dose, how much could a cup of milk inhibit?

    • Duck Dodgers on July 6, 2015 at 07:49

      I was pondering the same thing, John. If the study is accurate, it may be the key as to why the seemingly harmless fortification may be the worst kind of iron.

      “To get this from meat, you’d need to eat in the neighborhood of 3-5 pounds, depending on the cut (2 pounds of beef liver could do this, fyi)”

      I’m now not even sure it’s possible to overdose on iron from meat. If you only absorb ~2mg of iron from heme per meal (lets ignore the potential for iron absorption enhancers for now) that means you’d have to divide all that meat into about 22 snacks of meat throughout the day. Snacking constantly on pemmican might do that though :)

      Stefansson did notice that the Inuit aged rapidly. I’ve recently begun to think that this was because of their high iron intake. But they also snacked constantly, and snacking constantly may have encouraged more heme absorption.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 6, 2015 at 07:59

      I should clarify on “overdoing.” I was only referring to the difficulty in hitting the tolerable upper limit through meat consumption. In reality, adults need far less iron than that. For a healthy male in developed countries, the total amount of loss of iron is estimated to average 1 mg a day for men, and 1.5–2 mg a day for women with regular menstrual periods.

      So, that means that if you eat real foods, you can inhibit much of your non-heme iron with iron inhibitors (eggs, coffee, tea, cocoa, phenols, phytates, dairy, calcium-rich mineral waters), and if you eat one big piece of meat per day, you could only absorb a maximum of ~2mg of absorbed heme per day, and less if consumed with dairy or calcium.

      But, if you eat meat twice a day, the above study implies that your absorbable heme would jump to ~4mg of absorbed heme per day. And if you ate meat three times per day, that would conceivably jump to ~6mg of absorbed heme per day.

      So, I suspect that meat frequency may be a key factor. And, conversely, absorption from iron fortification (usually non-heme) seems to increase exponentially (according to Figure 2) as your intake goes up. I think that could explain a lot.

    • John on July 6, 2015 at 08:58

      Man Duck, those numbers get absolutely scary. So even though total iron is gonna be similar from 90g of Total Cereal, and, say, the famous 72oz Big Texan Challenge (, that study suggests that absorbed iron is gonna be about 3X higher from the Total Cereal! Oh, and 90g of Total also has 300% of the RDA for vitamin C to boot.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 6, 2015 at 16:12

      And if I wasn’t clear… what puzzled us was that high PUFA meat (like fish) caused an increase in non-heme despite phytic acid. But again, that’s believed to be the so-called “meat effect.”

    • gabkad on July 7, 2015 at 17:24

      Duckie, not all potatoes are low in iron. Prince Edward Island potatoes grown in the ‘rich red mud’ are high in iron compared to, let’s say Ontario potatoes. I don’t know about Idaho potatoes.

      Potatoes need to be analyzed based on origin.

  31. Jane Karlsson on July 7, 2015 at 02:00

    Duck, I’ve been meaning to have a look at that paper, and I finally did.

    “To our knowledge, there are no studies that have assessed the influence of oily fish on iron bioavailability. Much effort has been given to identify the nature of the “meat factor” but no candidate proteins or peptides have been verified. Recent studies using an in vitro model (Caco-2 cells) has attributed the promoting effect to sulfated glycoaminoglycan carbohydrates isolated from fish muscle tissue [10].”

    So it looks like sulfated GAGs from the fish muscle extracellular matrix do it. I suppose they grab iron from the phytic acid.

    • gabkad on July 7, 2015 at 17:28

      Jane, in re: phytic acid/phytates in fish muscle tissue: is this farmed fish or wildcaught? Farmed fish, especially species that eat vegetable matter, (tilapia, carp, bassa) could have high phytates because of the feed. But what about a fish like sardines or mackerel? I don’t know anything about this phytate business in fish muscle tissue so I’m asking.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 7, 2015 at 18:23

      Gab, unless I’m mistaken, she didn’t say there was phytic acid is in fish muscle tissue. The study was about the fish muscle increasing non-heme iron absorption despite the phytic acid in legumes. So, she’s saying that the GAGs in fish muscle might be grabbing iron from the phytic acid in legumes.

    • gabkad on July 8, 2015 at 04:01

      oh. But I have read that farmed fish are high in omega 6 because of the grains they are being fed. Instead of being high in omega 3. So was wondering if the poor fish are being ‘modified’ through diet in other ways as well.

  32. Duck Dodgers on July 8, 2015 at 19:51

    A study showing multivitamins increase mortality in older women. The main problem?…. Iron.

    Dietary supplements and mortality rate in older women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study.

    In older women, several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality risk; this association is strongest with supplemental iron. In contrast to the findings of many studies, calcium is associated with decreased risk.

    When we’ve chatted with researchers on this topic, none support widespread iron supplementation in the food supply. Yet, none of these researchers seem to be very vocal about their opinions in public. Are they afraid to speak out publicly against fortification? This is ridiculous!

    • FrenchFry on July 13, 2015 at 06:16

      I wouldn’t be surprised if some (most) of these researchers weren’t to keen to enter the political arena. As long as their funding is not threatened, they keep doing their job: publishing data. Let to others the task of translating the said data to public health recommendations …

  33. Jesse Birkett on July 12, 2015 at 19:31

    Just a thought. Everything you guys have discussed has had to do with human populations. Is there any chance that wildlife is getting fatter and sicker too? Could that be a key on shedding more light on the Iron theory?

  34. Ironthumb on July 14, 2015 at 08:31

    Richard, What about the Philippines?

    I agree with you on everything you said about the harms of iron. Just one question.

    You said that there is no excemption right?

    What about the Philippines? I live here. Yes there are some fat people here, but our fattest is like the slimmest in USA.. you would know if you lived here, you will not see any landwhales here. Obesse people are like as rare as “whales” here. You would see them and if you do you would be VERY SHOCKED.

    Its not an everyday thing to see an obesse individual here.

    And we all know that the Phillippines is one of those countries that have the “fortification” program.

    I am just curious

    • Ironthumb on July 14, 2015 at 10:27


      Yeah! Barretto is still doing fine I guess, she’s older and has issues, dramas going on with her married life, – which is good since showbiz needs attention to thrive, I am not too exposed to it btw, lotsa interesting stuff going on lately.

      I guess you are right, . bread is cheaper, so it actually is making sense that there are actually more fat women in depressed slums – where they eat more bread and less real food, more instant noodles, etc (if anything at all) . off course the totally depressed cannot be fat lolzlzl as they wont have anything to eat at all.

      BTW I dont know if you know the guy, Matt Forney,? He also just came by last September. We met in Mall of Asia and he says he’s having a great time. (at that time)


    • Ironthumb on July 14, 2015 at 10:33

      @Duck Dodgers

      Man, thanks for the input!

      Yeah you’re right, statistics would not lie..

      I do now see some “some” fatties – although they are still VERY few. Almost everyone you would see have beer bellies from drinking the good local beers every week (if not everyday). But still the rise is alarming indeed. If this goes on we will become USA-fat in no time, fat-acceptance movements will rise to the streets, invalid obesse people in motorized vehicles to walk will be present and these will infest the streets and eat up national budget.
      That will be heading towards disaster.

      It will be like God’s warning to Moses comming to life.

      I hope I am gone by that time

    • Richard Nikoley on July 14, 2015 at 09:15


      Well, see my latest post where I do make a reference to PI.

      From 1984-1989, I made about a dozen trips to PI, mostly to Olongapo, but also Manilla and elsewhere. Spent significant time in various Barios (how’s Barretto these days, other side of Pubic? And how about Subic City?).

      Can’t recall ever taking note of a fat person. Not a single one.

      In terms of iron stuff, we’ll have to look into it specifically but, I do know that back then, I never saw Flips eating anything but their traditional foods—though some are certainly sourced from rice products like noodles for pancit, fried rice, and of course the wraps for lumpia.

      I adored the place.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 14, 2015 at 09:26

      The explanation for the Philippines is found here:

      United Nations University: Update on rice fortification in the Philippines (1998)

      The paper discusses how, despite fortification being on the books since the 1950s, it didn’t catch on. Most mills wouldn’t do it. By 1998, things had improved, but still very few mills were enriching.

      In 2000, the Philippines decided that something needed to be done and they enacted the Philippine Food Fortification Act of 2000 to address their lingering nutritional deficiency problems. Iron is now being added to wheat flour and rice.

      And, of course, now that iron enrichment is in full swing, obesity is supposedly rising in the Philippines at an alarming rate.

  35. ironthumb on July 28, 2015 at 06:21

    BTW, may I ask …

    According to researches coffee and tea will help block some of the iron absorbed orally..

    But with regards to the iron killing the good flora in your gut, would yakult somehow help with that?


    • Duck Dodgers on July 28, 2015 at 18:08

      Actually, I don’t think iron so much kills bacteria in the gut. Rather, it causes inflammation and seems to bloom pathogens. A lot of microbes thrive on iron.

      Human breast milk contains tiny amounts of iron, but formula contains a lot of iron. Dr. Ayers says that infant guts are quickly and irreversibly bloomed into adult flora once formula is consumed. Not a good thing for babies and it makes their poop smell terrible.

      But, it turns out that some gut bacteria are either protective of iron or at least can help sequester it from pathogens:

      Suppressive Effects of Bifidobacteria on Lipid Peroxidation in the Colonic Mucosa of Iron-Overloaded Mice (2000)

      Accumulation of Iron in Lactic Acid Bacteria and Bifidobacteria (2006)

      Bifidobacteria strains isolated from stools of iron deficient infants can efficiently sequester iron (2015)

      Iron metabolism in bifidobacteria (1996)

      Sure seems like raw and/or fermented dairy has a lot to offer beyond the iron inhibition we discussed.

    • Bret on July 28, 2015 at 19:45

      Not trying to discount or downplay either the question or the answer, but I suspect shooting from the hip that merely avoiding the ridiculous proportions of iron in white bread and other fortified foods, as well as avoiding binges on red meat, should do the overwhelming majority of the trick.

      I would hope the coffee and tea and other “inhibitors” would become all but irrelevant in the context of such a diet.

    • Ironthumb on July 29, 2015 at 11:13


      Seems like that answers it.

      Figures why almost any gut or stomach ailments are remedied by simply drinking shots of yakult..

      I am not an edorser or anything,, but seems like it serves as another piece of puzzle in the end of the iron-issue.

      pretty much anything that mitigates iron works wonders so there seems to be no question

    • Duck Dodgers on July 29, 2015 at 18:13

      “Not trying to discount or downplay either the question or the answer, but I suspect shooting from the hip that merely avoiding the ridiculous proportions of iron in white bread and other fortified foods, as well as avoiding binges on red meat, should do the overwhelming majority of the trick.”

      Correct. That and making the simple effort to obtain a proper balance of micronutrients from real foods seems to be the key to maintaining a homeostasis. And even the occasional binges of meat seem fine too. I think it’s probably fine to occasionally binge on red meat than to eat meat at every single meal.

      “I would hope the coffee and tea and other “inhibitors” would become all but irrelevant in the context of such a diet.”

      Yes. And actually it seems that your body will adjust to the inhibitors a bit. So, for instance…

      Calcium only inhibits in a single meal when you get between 150mg to 350mg of calcium. A thick slice of UK bread has that much calcium. At first I wondered if this would be counterproductive for their fortification initiative. But, it turns out that non-heme iron inhibitors may stop inhibiting after they become part of your basic diet.

      Calcium from milk or calcium-fortified foods does not inhibit nonheme-iron absorption from a whole diet consumed over a 4-d period

      So, in that study, they wanted to make sure that calcium either added to foods or consumed from real foods wasn’t inhibiting non-heme iron absorption.

      Over the course of 4 days, the inhibition was minor on an absolute scale—though unless I’m mistaken, it looks like it would be significant on a relative scale given how little non-heme is already absorbed.

      So, I think it’s all a non-issue because people don’t usually get iron-overloaded from normal levels of non-heme absorption, which is generally poorly absorbed to begin with.

      And meat by itself shouldn’t cause a huge problem if supposedly you only can absorb 2mg of heme per meal.

      Where you probably get into trouble is when you add iron absorption enhancers to non-heme absorption on a regular basis (meat/fat, plus ascorbic acid, sugar, fructose, HFCS). Because when you add the iron enhancers, you are absorbing considerably more non-heme than you would have otherwise absorbed had you eaten the non-heme food by itself. Unlike heme absorption, there is apparently no limit as to how much non-heme iron you can absorb (even though it is very poorly absorbed under normal conditions).

      So it may be that as you stack the enhancers on top of each other in a single meal, they keep increasing the non-heme iron absorption. So, when you have meat, you quickly get to 2mg of heme (not a big deal) and then you get the enhanced non-heme and you repeat three meals a day. That might promote more iron absorption than you need.

      I doubt you get into much trouble with real foods. My guess is that you get into trouble with eating lots of Big Macs with fortified buns and washing it down with sodas.

      We never set out to give dietary guidelines or anything like that. If anything, we are just promoting “real foods” which basically means unfortified carbohydrates.

      All I can say is that populations who eat the most meat tend to have more obesity and health problems, particularly when they live in fortified countries. Populations who eat more iron inhibitors seem to have some immunity to these issues. We tried our best to explain that phenomenon, but the theory is casual and a work in progress.

      So, the more I think about this, the more I think that the name of the game is avoiding too much enhanced iron absorption. Perhaps the inhibitors and chelators just normalize the intake and metabolism of iron, rather than stopping it altogether. Most studies imply that they provide benefits.

    • Bret on July 29, 2015 at 20:40

      So, the more I think about this, the more I think that the name of the game is avoiding too much enhanced iron absorption.

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that were the case. Nature seems to have a way of mitigating micronutrient overloads/toxicity, until we stupidly and myopically mix in a shitload of an isolated compound.

      One reason among a few others that I don’t stuff myself with micronutrient supplement capsules.

    • Dr. Curmudgeon Gee on July 29, 2015 at 21:57

      given that traditional cooking use cast iorn, i woudl not be surprised that this is so.
      (i had decided not to worry & just eat like what grandma.)

    • Duck Dodgers on July 30, 2015 at 10:52

      I’m not sure that’s what validates it though. Grandma might have grown up during the great depression and during WWII, when meat was rationed or scarce. That cast iron pan might have been beneficial in that case. Same in China, where many Chinese are believed to be deficient in iron despite cooking with cast iron. Although, this may be due to copper deficiency.

      Anyhow, at least in the case with great-great-grandma, we absolutely cannot compare. Because our great-great-grandparents would have aged during a time when considerable amounts of bloodletting was done. And I mean considerable. We plan to write on this in the near future, but what I can say is that from the time of antiquity right up until the Industrial Revolution, healthy people were often relieved of multiple pints of blood per year. Those who were sick had considerably more removed. The procedure was abused by barbers and doctors alike as it was really the only medical treatment. Bloodletting was even used during surgeries to anesthetize patients before the surgery even began.

      Secondly, arteriosclerosis began magically appearing circa 1883, in more autopsies right around the time that bloodletting waned.

      Now that notable rise in arteriosclerosis could be for any number of reasons (increased access to sugar, which coincidentally supposedly happens to increase iron absorption). But the point is that the ‘granny used cast iron’ argument may not be a valid one in the context of greater meat consumption, fortification and less bloodletting.

    • Ironthumb on July 31, 2015 at 06:22

      I have been recommending Fish oil omega 3 for the longest time. is it perhaps a good thing as well to somehow mitigate the inflammatory effects of some unavoidable iron-enriched foods that we consume?

    • Duck Dodgers on July 31, 2015 at 18:12

      Hmm.. I thought the fish oil craze was based on false Inuit observations peddled by Bang & Dyerberg:

      HuffPo: New Study Explodes the ‘Eskimo Myth’

      Slate: The Fishy Origins of the Fish Oil Craze

      I’m not about to open that can of worms again. You can read all our posts on the subject and decide for yourself. :) I hope to never speak of them again.

    • John on August 1, 2015 at 11:09

      While it’s true that iron intakes are very high (likely the highest in all human history), don’t forget that the iron out side of the equation is screwed up as well. Everyone pretty much had helminths up until about 100-150 years ago. People have also become more sedentary, and activity/exercise reduces iron as well. Being more active, there were likely more incidental cuts, scrapes and wounds which would lower iron even more. And, as Duck pointed out, bloodletting was used and even abused for thousands of years. The only population that has really kept some of the natural iron lowering defenses is premenopausal women, who lose blood via menstruation and child birth.

  36. Jack on August 4, 2015 at 18:45

    Relative to folks without a genetic predisposition to iron overload, are those with it more likely to become obese or metabolically deranged? If Whites are the most common carriers of a gene which results in a tendency towards iron overload, are they the most obese and metabolically deranged race on the planet? Regardless of caloric intake and energy expenditure, are high-iron diets necessarily more obesogenic than low-iron diets? Are the iron-deficient more lean than the iron overloaded, other illnesses and confounders aside?

  37. Ironthumb on August 12, 2015 at 14:51

    In the Philippines we have a saying here that donating blood “cleans it from dirt” although the vernacular term refers to “trash” it now makes quite more sense doesn’t it?

  38. CoolBeans on August 12, 2015 at 08:52

    Just got back this iron panel:

    Iron: 187 (45-160 ug/dL)
    CalTIBC: 294 (260-470 ug/dL)
    Ferritin: 228 (30-400ng/mL)
    Transferrin: 303 (200-360 mg/dL)

    I’m shopping around for a progressive/functional med type doc to work with on this and other issues.

    Just wondering if folks with experience in reducing iron stores view these numbers as lending themselves to a donation frequency allowed by the Red Cross, or if a therapeutic phlebotomy script for far more frequent donations is likely called for?

    Thanks in advance!

    • John on August 12, 2015 at 21:34

      If you can find a doctor that understands what you’re trying to accomplish with iron reduction, sure, you could get a script. I would say the vast majority of doctors would probably look at the ranges, and be puzzled why you’re even asking. I would point out the TSAT number, it looks like it’s over 60%, as well as the high serum iron. Some people on the website have had a hard time getting a prescription with ferritin in the 900s, and that is dangerously high.

      Check out the Colpo article that was linked, he had a very similar starting ferritin, and goes through what he did. My guess is that donating every 8 weeks along with a complementary strategy (like IP6) would probably work very well in your case.

      Personally, when I decided I wanted to donate monthly, I simply went to two different local hospitals.

  39. giskard on August 12, 2015 at 09:01

    AFAIK the max blood donation frequency of every 2 months will bring down your Ferritin drastically… and may be too frequent once you’re in a good range (40-60?). I’ve heard that it will drop 30 points at every draw… dunno how accurate this is.

    • George Ironthumb on August 12, 2015 at 14:49

      I do believe that is accurate.

      It may fluctuate off course from person to person but the amount lost will be (more or less) around that +/- that amount..

      That is why in the Philippines we have a saying that donation “cleans your blood”. Although the vernacular term refers to “dirt” I guess it now makes sense that it rids you of excess JUNK literally.

    • CoolBeans on August 13, 2015 at 09:13

      Thanks, giskard. Good for everyone to remember not to go too fast or too low.

    • David on August 19, 2015 at 22:07

      I had my serum ferritin tested 4 days before a blood donation, and then 4 days after, to see the change. The ferritin value was higher 4 days after, I was surprised. Perhaps it takes time to reach an equilibrium.

    • John on August 20, 2015 at 09:19

      Only four days after giving blood? There’s a good chance you were still dehydrated, which I believe will skew results. I’ve always waited at least a week after donating to do any tests. When I’ve tested blood sugar days after donating, it’s usually about 20 points higher than normal, which I’m sure is to compensate for less blood. Also, if you were closer to deficiency, it’s possible you were absorbing iron at a more rapid rate.

    • John on August 20, 2015 at 09:22

      Also, the common estimate is that it takes about 1 month to replace the cells lost from donation. It might very well take that long to be reflected in ferritin.

    • David on August 20, 2015 at 19:41

      Thanks for the info John. I think you’re right, one must wait longer to test. At least I know the ferritin number was good 4 days before donating blood (2 months from the last donation).

  40. Mark on October 23, 2016 at 01:48

    Ok! after reading through this amazing article I have come to the conclusion that, because we can only absorb up to a third of heme iron in a meal and some of that heme iron is transformed into the harder to absorb non heme iron via cooking, along with iron inhibiting foods which may be consumed at the same time (eggs,dairy,citrus foods etc) that red meat/shell fish should not be considered a factor with regards to iron overload. As an adult male I need 7-8mg per day and adult females require 15mg per day. Therefore I would need to eat a lot of red meat to reach my goal. Blue zone populations admittedly consume very little heme iron, but crucially, for me, they all seem to also avoid high doses of harmful polyunsaturated vegetable oils, which I believe are a huge part in modern day health problems in the industrialised world. Maybe this is a major factor to their remarkable health and longevity? Avoiding vegetable oils and foods containing them, as well as avoiding fortified foods, but getting your iron from real foods, whether that be meat, shell fish, fish, eggs, plants and/or vegetables looks to be perfectly fine to me. I aim to eat 100g of lambs liver per week along with red meat once a day and oily fish once per week. This, along with starchy carbs, vegetables (some fermented, some not) some fruits and dairy is my plan. Heck I might even try my hand at making some sour dough bread……with NON fortified flour lol…… great article, and best of health to you all

  41. joel on October 18, 2017 at 05:07

    @Jane Karlson,
    Eating vitamin C rich veggies and/or fruits with iron containing foods(plant or animal) will increase the iron absorption from the iron containing food?

    Can you describe what you eat generally, a typical day of urs from a diet point of view?

    Do you think fasting is necessary to optimal health?

    • Richard Nikoley on October 25, 2017 at 14:11

      Jane replying to Joel:

      Hi Joel
      1. Yes it should do.
      2. I eat a Hunza diet.
      It just means no refined carbs and not much meat.
      3. I’m not entirely sure.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 25, 2017 at 14:12

      Joel asks Jane:

      Jane, what cause B12 deficiency?

    • Richard Nikoley on October 25, 2017 at 14:13

      Jane replies:

      Joel, B12 deficiency should not exist in people who eat animal foods. What looks like B12 deficiency is increasingly being recognised as copper deficiency. The enzyme requiring B12 also requires copper.

      SUMMARY: Copper deficiency has been associated with a clinical syndrome, myeloneuropathy. Radiographic changes resembling B12 deficiency in the cervical spinal cord have been described. We present a case of copper deficiency myeloneuropathy, with cervical MR imaging findings resembling B12 deficiency, which partially reversed following copper supplementation. This is, to our knowledge, the first described case of radiographic improvement with copper supplementation.

      Copper deficiency is an increasingly reported but under-recognized cause of neurologic dysfunction. This potentially treatable disorder manifests clinically as a profound sensory ataxia and can be associated with signal-intensity change in the dorsal columns of the spinal cord, resembling B12 deficiency. We present a patient with copper deficiency myeloneuropathy who had partial reversal of the MR imaging signal-intensity changes in the dorsal columns after copper replacement therapy.

  42. joel on October 26, 2017 at 12:34


    Sorry but have lots of questions.

    Majority of people suffer from extremely low stomach acid, which is needed to absorb B12(also B6, B9 and other B vits, and zinc, they help make stomach acid)… so if there is no stomach acid, you dont absorb the raw building blocks to actually make your OWN HCL so its a vicious cycle… also, with low HCL one cannot absorb other minerals especially copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium… So in your opinion how does one raise low HCL to optimal levels?

    What if blood test show low B12? Should one, in this case, supplement with B12 supplement to raise levels to an optimal one or copper should be supplemented or both? I have LOTS of B12 deficiency symptoms.

    What test(s) are needed to find out REAL vitamin B12 status?

    What test(s) are needed to find out REAL copper, manganese, iron status?

    What tests(blood, urine etc.) should one do to find out what is wrong with his/her health?

    I recently(since September)added to my diet daily legumes(beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, peanuts), nuts, seeds, home made sourdough whole grain wheat bread, millet, buckwheat, oats to get copper+manganese+magnesium but soon I developed brown spots on my lower jaw teeth(dental carries/decay/rot)… why??? Should I stop eating these things? What causes dental rotting???

    What is your take on the ancient ayurvedic habit of drinking water stored in a copper cup overnight? Is this copper bioavailable? Many people report healing from this habit, some dont notice anything, while others have negative effects(maybe detox causes these ”negative effects”)

    Does B12 deplete copper?

    What do u think about stabilized rice bran, it is full of B complex and contains per 100 grams: 14mg Manganese(also 14mg Iron), plus high levels of IP6, magnesium… when eating beef liver for the copper, should I add some stabilized rice bran to block the iron from the liver?

    In one of ur post u said vitamin C causes iron overload, you mean synthetic ascorbic acid or the natural Vitamin C found in foods, or both? I read that vitamin C complexes with iron to form a harmless iron-complex:

    Probably will have more questions… but thank you very much for your time and effort.

    • Jane Karlsson on October 30, 2017 at 03:56

      “Majority of people suffer from extremely low stomach acid”
      Do you have evidence for this? I’ve never heard of it.

      It’s true that if your gut isn’t working properly it won’t absorb micronutrients, and then it can’t work properly. There is no solution to this that I know of except to eat a whole food low meat diet and wait for things to resolve. If such a diet makes your teeth rot, I really don’t know what to say. I’ve never heard of such a thing.

      “I have LOTS of B12 deficiency symptoms.”
      Can you list them please?

      “What tests (blood, urine etc.) should one do to find out what is wrong with his/her health?”
      I am not sure there is any test that will give you a satisfactory answer to that question. As I understand it, the test for B12 deficiency is not very reliable. Likewise the tests for mineral deficiencies. Minerals in the blood vary a lot for good physiological reasons. For instance low blood zinc means inflammation, not zinc deficiency.

      Stabilised rice bran — I dunno. I only eat whole food.

      My strategy has always been to find out what the Hunza did and do it. I eat the same things, roughly speaking, every day, which means if I get symptoms I know they’re due to stress and not to something I ate.

      That link about vitamin C is a curious mixture of fact and fantasy.
      “For instance, did you know there is actually no such thing as cell receptors?”
      Of course there are cell receptors.
      “To saturate my system with Vitamin C I take a reasonable dose (500mg-1g) with food every few hours…”
      Why would you want to saturate your system with vitamin C? How does this person know it isn’t working by the placebo effect?

  43. joel on November 2, 2017 at 09:07


    Do you know anybody with no digestive issues? If you go and read the testimonies/reviews under HCL supplements you will see how it changed peoples lives(for the better)…

    Without enough HCL in stomach the digestive process wont start and food will just rot in the GI tract and one wont absorb minerals/vitamins.

    B12 tests not reliable. What tests are you talking about? I know that the standard serum B12 test is pretty much useless but urin methylmalonic acid and homocysteine and active B12 tests can show a better picture about real B12 status.

    Are there reliable tests for copper status? What about tests iron status?

    I know B12 deficiency symptoms can mimic copper deficiency symptoms and vice versa… but how do you determine which one one have? One can have both as well:

    Also there are no studies to show if copper deficiency causes B12 deficiency OR B12 deficiency causes copper deficiency(are u aware if there are studies on this topic?)

    My symptoms are many, some background about myself:

    I am a 29 year old professional athlete(track and field, decathlon) and after my national championships finals on 24th July my grandma passed away, for 3 days after her death I was literally like a zombie jut floating around like a drunkard/drug addict, not realizing what just happened, I was speechless, in denial, disbelief AND after these 3 days, my health began to go downhill extremely fast.

    My diet was and still is 100% clean(dairy, eggs, meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seed, legumes, tubers, oats, whole grain spaghetti, clean spring water), no smoking, no drugs, no alcohol, no coffee, no energy drinks. Always slept from 9:30 PM and woke up at 6 AM.

    In June, July I went to a extremely low salt diet, almost zero salt, and worked out for 3- 5 hours per day in the 40+ Celsius degree hot weather, I would lose up to 5kg of fluid during a workout. I believe this was a bad idea.

    After my grandmas passed away I began having heart palpitations, my heart would pound like it wanted to jump out my chest during daylight and during night it would beat so slowly and weakly, I thought I would not wake up.

    After a week since my grandmas death I tried to re-begin my raining sessions and during my warmup, suddenly I felt like my legs were cut off from my body and I fell on the ground. Since then, I stopped all physical exercise because I would start feeling stabbing pain in heart and feeling like fainting. Since then(end of July), the following symptoms developed:

    Heart almost stops beating with a pinching/stabbing pain sensation in the chest/heart area when I am in a sitting position for a few seconds, or when taking shoes up, or when bending over to pick up something from floor and when having a proper posture(shoulders back, chest out, head straight, core and glutes engaged). Its like when the core muscles are engaged and the knees move closer to the chest and when the body bends something pushes against arteries which cuts off blood supply, thus slowing down the beating of the heart almost to zero, then I get a lightning pain shooting in head/brain(like before a stroke/aneurysm) and also spasm/cramp between the shoulder blades, all at the same time…

    Pulsating feeling in brain/head throughout the day especially when laying down in bed.

    Stabbing pain in heart area throughout the day, especially after walking 30- 60 minutes, from exhaustion.

    Eyes hurt.

    Sudden numbing feeling in left chest/shoulder/biceps area throughout the day.

    The strength of heart beat is very weak and very slow and the feeling like its struggling.
    When palpating my heart area to feel the strength and speed of its beating, I feel like the blood instead of having a smooth flowing sensation, I feel it like sand paper flows through it, scratching the artery walls away.

    Sudden increase in heart rate and strength of heart beat for a short period of time throughout the day out of nowhere(even when resting)

    Tingling/burning sensation in foot and head/brain, toes, fingers.

    Tremors/shakes/spasms/pulsating in whole body especially in a laying down position(feet, back, neck, calf,, head/brain, quads, thighs, chest etc.)

    I feeling like my heart is beating in my ears.

    Shallow breathing, the need to remind myself to actually breath.

    Stabbing/cramping behind my knees area.

    Extreme fatigue caused by the smallest physical effort(e.g. just doing a squat my quads burn like I did a 3 hour leg gym workout, or if I carry a light bag I feel like my arms just fall off of my body, numbness, I have this same ”arm falling off” or numb feeling sometimes throughout the day from no physical effort at all, or carrying a back light back pack would exhaust me and feel a strain in heart )

    Memory issues(both short and long term). Concentration issues.

    I feel my joints are becoming looser/wobbly, almost like one is on a boat or drunk and knees hurt. Balance issues.

    Whole body swelling/edema/fluid retention.

    Teeth sensitivity pain.

    Stabbing pain in liver and kidneys throughout the day.

    Loss of libido.


    Skin flaking off.

    Rashes on face and red dots under mouth.

    Slow healing of injuries/cuts(i have a small cut on my hand which did not heal for a year)

    Inability to use left arm without my left chest area cramping and/or feeling a stabbing pain.

    Cramping/ticks in face muscles(especially under eyes)

    Lost 10kg since end of July.

    Sudden cold feeling in hands and foot during the day.

    Digestive issues(bloating, gas)

    Hair growth on scalp and nails growth slowed down dramatically. My hair wuld grow back to is original length in 3 weeks. Now in 2- 3 months.

    Blurred vision.

    Teeth began decaying at a fast rate out of nowhere.

    Ringing in the ears.

    Sudden bladder area lightning cramps throughout the day..

    Whites spots appeared on upper chest/collar bone area.

    To me all of this sounds to be a B12 and/ or copper deficiency and/or hemochromatosis and/or Wilson’s disease.

    Basically I am falling apart, FAST.

  44. Jane Karlsson on November 4, 2017 at 07:48

    What does your doctor say?

    • joel on November 5, 2017 at 01:54

      Doctor thinks that it is a mental issue(PTSD, anxiety, depression etc.). HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHHAHAH. It is becoming a new trend in the doctor world to send people with symptoms to mental support. Going to the doctor in general, for people, is a huge stress factor these days, they will look at you like you are absolute nutcase.

      She sent me to take blood sample, I think she tests my B12, folate and ferritin and other stuff ”to see if I am not anemic”.

      Serum B12 is basically pretty much worthless to determine B12 status according to my research. It can show false normal/high levels. It could be B12 deficiency or copper deficiency or BOTH or BOTH+some other deficiencies/toxicities…

      What studies do you have regarding salt/sodium needs for humans?

  45. Jane Karlsson on November 5, 2017 at 03:29

    Many years ago I had chronic fatigue syndrome, which is sometimes diagnosed as mental illness. You get brain fog, and mine was so bad I couldn’t even read, because the words didn’t make sense. I know now it’s due to oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in the brain. Perhaps you have that. It’s almost certainly caused by longstanding marginal deficiencies of manganese, magnesium and copper, which are all very important in mitochondria and in preventing oxidative stress.

    I had three bouts of chronic fatigue syndrome, starting in my late teens and ending in my thirties after I adopted a Hunza diet.

    • joel on November 5, 2017 at 09:30

      Jane, people with diagnosed B12 deficiency(through blood testing) should take B12 supplements to correct it and/or copper and/or manganese supplements?

      What studies do you have regarding salt/sodium and water needs for humans? How much salt do the hunzas eat and how much water?

      Do u think cacao(or dark chocolate) is helpful in correcting Mg/Mn/Cu dcdeficiency? Cacao is high in these nutrients(its also high in iron and caffeine)… did hunza people at cacao or caffeine rich foods?

      How would u describ

    • joel on November 5, 2017 at 09:33

      I forgot to ask what cases vitamin D deficiency? What is ur opinion in general about vit D?

      What do u think about boron?

      How does a hunza diet look like in real life?

  46. Jane Karlsson on November 6, 2017 at 01:34

    About the B12, I really don’t know. I do not think you really have B12 deficiency since you eat meat and dairy, but I don’t want to disagree with your doctor. No I don’t think you should take manganese or copper supplements, unless you want to very badly, to see whether they help your symptoms in the short term. I doubt they will, but who knows. The placebo effect can be very powerful.

    About salt: obviously, not too much and not too little. Vitamin D: you don’t need to worry about it unless you live in a cave and never go out. Boron: you shouldn’t need to worry about it if you eat a whole food diet. Cacao: yes it’s very high in Mg/Mn/Cu, but you can’t exactly live on chocolate. Much better to eat a whole food low meat diet. Water: for chrissake you’ll be asking me how much air you should breathe next.

    Here is the book you need to read about the Hunza.

  47. joel on November 6, 2017 at 11:34

    Klevay said:

    ”Supplements aren’t the best way to get an aKlevay saiddequate amount of copper, said Dr. Leslie M. Klevay, an unabashed copper enthusiast who trained Yang while at the Department of Agriculture and is now professor of internal medicine at the University of North Dakota. He has been studying the effects of copper on the heart for a decade.

    Supplements don’t work well, Klevay said, because the copper they contain is in a form that is not well absorbed by the body. He recommends supplements containing iron, because they help put dietary copper to work. Good food sources of copper include grains and nuts, Klevay said. “Liver is the best, and peanut butter is terrific,” he added.”

    Why does he advocate iron supplementation?

    • Jane Karlsson on November 7, 2017 at 01:06

      I don’t know. This is the problem with the scientists who study these metals: they have to focus on their particular metal to the exclusion of all others. I emailed him once trying to tell him about manganese, suggesting that the failure of copper supplements to help Alzheimer patients might be because they were just as deficient in Mn as in Cu. He wasn’t interested and I never emailed him again. I was sad because I have the greatest respect for him.

    • joel on November 7, 2017 at 03:54


      ”Copper, Coronary Heart Disease, and Dehydroepiandrosterone
      Leslie M. KlevayAuthor + informationAuthor + information

      Tivesten et al. (1) measured dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in serum of nearly 2,500 Swedish men aged 69 to 81 years. Low serum levels of DHEA and its sulfate predicted increased risk of coronary heart disease death after 5 years. They reviewed more than a dozen earlier articles, mentioned that some people use DHEA as a dietary supplement, and made a plea for mechanistic studies.

      Adult rats have concentrations of DHEA similar to those in their Table 2. These can be halved by copper deficiency because copper enzymes generally are oxidative and DHEA is synthesized from cholesterol by oxidation (2).
      I don’t know. This is the problem with the scientists who study these metals: they have to focus on their particular metal to the exclusion of all others. I emailed him once trying to tell him about manganese, suggesting that the failure of copper supplements to help Alzheimer patients might be because they were just as deficient in Mn as in Cu. He wasn’t interested and I never emailed him again. I was sad because I have the greatest respect for him.

      The Western diet often is low in copper, and copper values in dietary surveys are falsely high (3). Copper deficiency is the only nutritional insult that elevates cholesterol, blood pressure, homocysteine, isoprostanes, and uric acid; has adverse effects on arteries and electrocardiograms; impairs glucose tolerance and paraoxonase activity; promotes thrombosis and oxidative damage; and to which males respond differently than females. More than 80 anatomic, chemical, and physiological similarities between animals deficient in copper and people with ischemic heart disease have been identified (4,5).

      Perhaps low DHEA in their subjects (1) was a subtle, indirect sign of copper deficiency. People who believe that high concentrations of DHEA are beneficial may find that copper supplements are less expensive and less hazardous than DHEA supplements. A supplement containing copper produced improvement in heart failure.”

      Apparently Cu supplements work…

      Do you know a scientist called Raymond Schep(72 years old) ? He wrote a book called: ”Eat Right For Life”. Here is one of his Facebook post:
      ”Okay I am going to publish my anti aging secret, You can either adopt it and and we will all celebrate my 108 th birthday party together or not, your choice. Aging is due to the reaction of glucose with proteins in the body.(Glycation). The following stops glycation or neutralizes it.
      1. 4-8 mg of copper a day depending on body weight (forms SOD enzyme that neutralizes cell damaging superoxide produced by glycation).
      2. Maximize protein intake in diet( more meat, fish, milk, eggs,cheese) (less glucose in blood). Cholesterol theory is pure fiction and not scientifically provable.
      3. Minimize carbohydrates and sugar in diet (all foods derived from grains, wheat, corn). These produce glucose during digestion and increase glucose blood level and glycation.
      4. 4-6 capsules Omega-3 per day. (lessens inflammation in the body due to glycation products.) Krill oil is best but also most expensive.
      See you at the party in 36 years time.
      (Dr Raymond Schep DSc, Univ Pret).
      Reference: Noninvasive Measurement Of Advanced Skin Glycation End Products in the Facial Skin; New Data For skin aging studies. Di Qu, et al, J. Cosmetic Sci, 68 195-204 (May/June 2017). Just out.”

      Here are some of his amazon reviews:

      ”The book(Eat Right 4 Your Type: The Individualized Diet Solution to Staying Healthy, Living Longer & Achieving Your Ideal Weight) came to my attention about three years ago and being an A+ I avoided beef and pork and ate chicken and turkey. The turkey and chicken made me very nauseous. As I result I studied the scientific literature and found that chicken and turkey is more indigestible than beef and pork. I now eat large amounts of beef and pork and love it and feel great after I have done it. So I did further research and found the benefits of raw foods, the cure for arthritis, heart disease, the secrets of anti-aging and cancer, I wrote a book and sent it to the publisher and they published it as “Eat Right For Life”. Dr Raymond A. Schep. I joined the top rugby club (Belmont) in the USA and am now playing rugby at the age of 65 with strong aggressive hard hitting 25 year old champs. I would like to see Dr Adamo doing that!!

      ”Effective Copper supplement(Standard Process – Copper Liver Chelate – Copper Supplement – 90 Tablets), but other copper supplements are just as effective and cheaper.
      I gave it three stars because it is an effective natural supplement of copper but also the most expensive form available. Available from other manufacturers are the Solaray Copper Amino Acid Chelate and the Copper Biocitrate. Then there is also. the copper glycinate. These are all much cheaper, $5-9 and I determine them to be just as effectively absorbed (100%) as the liver chelate.

      I would like to issue a warning about copper gluconate made by such manufacturers as Twinlabs. The copper gluconate is the most stable complex of all trace element complexes having a stability constant K of around 18. A chemist on the web stated this would make the copper bio-unavailable but I will be kinder and estimate only 60% of it is bioavailable. This means the 2 mg they state on the label only delivers 1 mg, and it is misbranded.

      In my Book Eat Right For Life I blame the epidemic of heart disease and cancer due to the fact that copper has been removed from our diets by food refinement. (Copper is in lysyl oxidase that makes elastin tissue for veins arteries and heart, and copper is in SOD which is in very cell and protects against free radical damage which causes cancer) Dr. Raymond Schep.”

      ”It is a lifeline and I thank Solaray for its availability, the most critical nutrient and absent in processed foods, 4 mg copper a day necessary to prevent heart disease by stimulating growth of arteries and veins, and stops cancer by forming the enzyme superoxide dismutase in our cells which protects every cell in our body against destructive superoxide… Thanks SOLARAY!!
      At age 71 just dug a 4 ft deep 4 x 4 foot hole in my garden, to bury garden waste, and thought nothing of it!!”

      ”Fantastic, it is hard to get pure vitamin C at a great price, and which is not tableted and full of harmful sugar and fillers and junk. This product did it.”

      ”The price is really great but until it says on the label what the chelating agent is I will not purchase it. A chelating agent can be citrate, glycine, amino acid chelate, and liver chelate. The term chelate means nothing. Some manufacturers are selling copper with gluconate as the chelating agent. This makes the copper poorly available as the dissociation constant is 18, meaning it is not dissociated and not absorbable. The constant for EDTA chelate is also around 18 and EDTA is used as a chelating agent to remove heavy metals such as lead and copper from the body. Dr. Raymond Schep.”

      ”I must warn you about Copper Gluconate made by Twinlabs and other manufacturers. It DOES NOT provide the 2 mg stated on the label. The reason is that Copper Gluconate is one of the most stable complexes of all the trace mineral chelates or complexes. The gluconate has a stability constant of 18 this is a logarithmic figure and means that one copper in a number with 18 zeros behind it is dissociated in solution. A chemist has stated on the web that this make copper gluconate bio-unavailable but I will be kinder and state the copper is only 60% available to the body because the body can metabolize the glucose somewhat. The means you are only getting 1 mg per capsule. All the other forms of copper sold have stability constants of less then 8-10 such as the glycinate, the amino acid chelate, the biocitrate and the liver chelate. These are all absorbed 100%. This product is misbranded. (copper is extremely necessary for the cardiovascular system by means of the lysyl oxidse enzyme which make arterial tissue and is necessary for all the cells in the body as it is part of the SOD enzyme which protects against cancer and aging). Copper has been removed from our diet by food processing. Dr Raymond A. Schep.”

  48. Jane Karlsson on November 8, 2017 at 01:27

    I am assuming that the inordinate length and entirely avoidable confusion of your comment mean you don’t want a reply, so you aren’t getting one.

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