New study finds iron supplements may lower risk of obesity
By Louise Akerstrom | 17 July 2016 11:24:18While there is no evidence to show that iron supplements reduce risk of weight gain or prevent obesity, a new study has found that they can be a benefit for some people who are overweight or obese.
The study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, looked at data from 2,946 participants from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
It found that those taking iron supplements had a lower risk for obesity and lower levels of body fat.
The research was conducted between 2010 and 2014.
The researchers, from the University of York in the UK and the University Hospital of Bonn in Germany, used data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Oxford) to look at the relationship between iron supplementation and weight gain and obesity.
The main findings of the study were that participants who were taking iron had lower levels in the blood of a protein called ferritin, which is known to be linked to weight gain.
They also found that iron supplementation lowered levels of two other important hormones, leptin and ghrelin, both of which are associated with body fatness.
The results suggest that iron is a possible treatment for the rise in obesity and related metabolic syndrome, the researchers said.
In a press release, lead researcher Professor Christopher Fergusson said:Iron is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to reduce levels of inflammation, which are known to contribute to obesity and its complications.
“Our results show that, although iron may not appear to directly reduce the risk of overweight or obesity, its effects on the metabolic syndrome may be more complex than previously understood,” Professor Ferguson said.
“Iron may affect the expression of genes that regulate fat and muscle mass, such as leptin, and may also affect other biological processes that are related to body weight.”
The researchers concluded that iron may play a role in weight control by altering levels of the stress hormone cortisol and by lowering levels of fat-soluble hormones such as ghrela and leptin.
“We also found a positive association between iron intake and body weight, suggesting that increased iron intake may reduce body weight and body fat,” they said.
Professor Fergussedon said the results were “remarkable” and highlighted the importance of taking iron regularly.
“These results are important as they support the notion that there is a causal link between iron and weight control,” he said.
Iron is an essential nutrient for healthy body weight control.
It can also be used to replace excess amounts of saturated fat in the diet.
The Food Standards Agency said it was recommending that all consumers should aim for a daily intake of 5 to 10 grams of iron.
The Australian Food Standards and Veterinary Authority said that the daily intake should not be more than 1.8 grams of total iron.
A spokeswoman for the FSA said iron supplements should be taken as prescribed and as part of a balanced diet.
“If your doctor recommends a higher intake, it may be advisable to increase the dose of iron you take in a controlled fashion,” she said.
A spokeswoman from the Australian Veterinary Medical Association said there was no evidence that iron was dangerous.
“There is insufficient evidence to suggest that it is a cause for concern, nor that it should be stopped,” she told the ABC.
In a statement, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare said there were currently no guidelines for supplementing iron.
Topics:health,diseases-and-disorders,nutrition,nutrition-and_food-processing,health,nutritionism,medicine,health-policy,diet,healthy-living,federal—state-issues,medecine,australiaFirst posted July 17, 2016 09:59:36Contact Louise AkersstromMore stories from New South Wales