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June 20 2016 Puzzle Piece 1 In 3 People Have High Iron, Which Can Destroy the Liver

1 In 3 People Have High Iron, Which Can Destroy the Liver
June 20, 2016 Puzzle Piece    

Why Checking Your Iron Level Is so Crucial for Optimal Health.  This is one reason belonging to the Brimhall Advantage SBN is a real money and life saver.


It is estimated that1 in 3 adults in the US can have a serious overload of the mineral Iron.    Here is a quote from Gerry Koenig, former chairman of the Iron Disorders Institute (IDI) and the Hemochromatosis Foundation discusses in this interview. Koenig’s personal story is a powerful illustration of what can happen to someone with excess iron.

Approaching his 50th birthday, he’d lost a lot of weight, worked out, and felt healthy. By age 55, he was in good shape, but he did drink more than recommended. Eventually, during a physical exam, he found out his liver enzymes were high.

“The doctor recommended I stop drinking,” Koenig says. “I stopped drinking. But I got sick again ... Turned out I had hemolytic anemia. My red blood cells were breaking down.

I didn’t know what that meant, nor, apparently, did my doctor. They never tested my iron ... Finally I had an episode where I went to the hospital. I had encephalopathy, a pretty serious condition ...  They said I would need a new liver.

I didn’t get an iron test until the eve of my liver transplant in 2005 ... By chance I ran across a Scientific American article. It described something called hemochromatosis, which I didn’t know anything about. I decided I would have the test.

As it turns out, I have a single gene for one of the variants for hemochromatosis — C282Y. Because of that, I decided to look into it more and started researching it ... I’ve been doing that for the last 11 years.”

Many adult men and non-menstruating women have high and damaging levels of iron.  There is a genetic disorder called hemochromatosis which causes your body to accumulate excessive and dangerously damaging levels of iron.

Left untreated, it can damage your organs and contribute to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and many other disorders. It causes bronzing of the liver and skin, which is irreversible.  A non-genetic accumulation of too high of iron is called Hemosiderosis.

If properly diagnosed, all complications are prevented by testing and treating. To get useful information, doctors need to use optimal levels of iron and not disease levels that are most recognized by labs and allopathic physicians.  This is why on all SBN reports we have both optimal levels and regular lab levels in print.
SBN reports include serum iron, serum ferritin and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) levels.  If high, it is recommend avoiding iron supplements and donating blood on a regular schedule to avoid serious health problems.

Many doctors are under informed about iron overload. This allows the problem to go undetected.  If you are a physician, are you guilty of not testing yourself, your family and your patients?  Contact Jason at our office at 866-338-4883 or [email protected] if you are not using the Brimhall Advantage SBN program and get the details.  I test around 90% of the patients I treat to evaluate what the blood studies and many times blood and hair have to reveal.  Not to see is not to know!

The serum ferritin test measures your stored iron. I test myself quarterly to semiannually to keep abreast of present levels.  I recommend all adults get their iron tested (serum ferritin test) at least once per year. The next important insight is don’t make the mistake of using lab values that are based on disease.  In some labs, a level of under 450 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) falls within the normal range, which is way too high for optimal health. You are almost guaranteed to develop dis-ease at that level.

If the iron level is high, the solution is to watch your iron intake and donate blood through phlebotomy as previously stated.  Many supplements contain iron. If anemic, it is important to determine the cause and supplement if iron deficiency is present.  Again, you MUST TEST to know if you might be too low or too high.

Adult males, as a good practice, will want to donate blood two to three times a year once your levels are normal. If ferritin levels are significantly above safe levels, a more aggressive phlebotomy schedule should be implemented.

The standard SBN testing profile routinely includes serum iron, ferritin and GGT.  GGT measures liver enzymes, which can identify liver damage. It can also be used as a screening marker for excess iron. The free iron measured by GGT is also great indicator of potential sudden cardiac death if high.

Looking at the marker (GGT), you have an indication of iron that’s not well-bound. When iron is in the serum, it’s generally bound by transferrin, which carries two iron atoms through the serum.

Ferritin can hold up to 4,000 iron molecules and put those inside the cells. If those measure high, they’re risky, because you don’t know how well your body is going to hold on to that iron when the cells degenerate over time through lysis or catabolism.

It’s not so much that we’re eating too much iron, it’s that the iron we have in our body is accumulating to the level it can harm us. That’s where the GGT is important. It’s a surrogate measure of free iron.  

We can have one or both genes for hemochromatosis.  High iron levels also happen because most people don’t excrete iron very well. Let’s look at the biology behind iron loading?  Ninety percent of the energy our body creates is by burning carbs or fat with oxygen in the mitochondria to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  Oxygen is used to burn the fuel that goes through the Krebs cycle. Ninety-five percent of the time, oxygen is converted to water.

Anywhere from 0.5 to 5 percent of the time, the process is going to develop reactive oxygen species (ROS). The first one is superoxide dismutase (SOD), which then transforms to the next ROS, which is hydrogen peroxide.

Complications can occur when you have excess iron in your blood.  The chemical reaction (Fenton’s reaction) doesn’t produce water in this case and instead, the excessive iron catalyzes the formation of hydroxyl free radicals, which are the most potent and destructive free radicals. They will destroy the mitochondrial DNA, mitochondrial electron transport proteins and cellular membranes.

This is how iron overload accelerates every major disease. That’s how it causes the pathologies, especially in liver and cardiovascular disease. Very few health care professionals understand the molecular biology of this reaction.

According to Koenig, iron levels have doubled in the general population over the past four decades.  I wonder if this could this be because of extreme toxic exposure that overloads and impairs our detoxification pathways.

Koenig states, “When the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I, 1971 to 1974) was done, and NHANES II (1976 to 1980), they measured ferritin. The male ferritin was under 100 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) in the U.S. in the first testing and now the median is around 200 ng/ml.

Another piece of the puzzle is if you eat a lot of refined carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber), the situation is exacerbated. Unfortunately, most reading this are burning carbs as their primary fuel, which adds another 30 to 40 percent more ROS on top of the hydroxyl free radicals generated by the presence of high iron.  This is another good reason to increase good fats and significantly lower refined carbohydrates.

Look for Puzzle Piece’s to come on increasing healthy fats and considering a ketogenic diet.


Yours in Health and Wellness,

John W Brimhall, BA, BS, DC, FIAMA, DIBAK

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