Iron Deficiency and Overdose - Anaemia


Iron disorders fall into two groups:

  1. Iron Overload - too much iron, or
  2. Anemia - too little iron.

Different names of Iron Overdose

Iron overdose is also known as Ferrous sulfate overdose, or Ferrous gluconate overdose, or Ferrous fumarate overdose. All these names are pointers of iron as a whole which is in excess.

Iron deficiency

Anemia - which can cause anemia, is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. The most common dietary deficiency worldwide is iron, affecting half a billion persons. However, this problem affects women and children more. A growing child is increasing the red blood cell mass, and needs additional iron. It may result from inadequate iron intake in some infants, adolescent girls, and pregnant women. Blood loss may produce an iron deficiency in any person. All persons with iron deficiency require iron supplementation.

Iron Overload or Toxicity

Excess iron is toxic, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and damage to the intestine. Iron may accumulate in the body when a person is given iron therapy in excessive amounts or for too long, receives repeated blood transfusions, or has chronic alcoholism. Iron overload disease (hemochromatosis) is a potentially fatal but treatable hereditary disorder in which too much iron is absorbed; it affects over 1 million Americans. Acute iron poisoning is mainly seen in children. A single 300 mg tablet of ferrous sulfate will contain 60 mg of elemental iron.

Is Iron Overdose a Killer?

Hemochromatosis also known as Iron Overdose is a very rare condition actually. This is quite a rare illness and it can be easily cured by chelating agents. Iron in excess of 500 mg, is most likely be extracted by the body itself through stools which become hard and black in color with increased iron expulsion.

Points to Ponder for Iron

Iron is highly corrosive substance and it impact badly in the GI tract. The liver is the organ which is worst affected by iron toxicity.

What is considered as Iron Overdose?

Estimation of toxicity is based on the preposition of elemental iron ingested by the body

  • if the iron consumed is less than 10-20 mg per kg of body weight, it is generally non toxic for the body
  • if the iron consumed is between 20-60 mg per kg of body weight, it is potentially toxic for the body
  • if the iron consumed is less than 60-120 mg per kg of body weight, it is generally toxic but fatal outcome unlikely for the body
  • if the iron consumed is greater than 120 mg per kg of body weight, it is potentially fatal for the body

What can happen by Iron Overdose? 

We all are aware of the fact that iron is an important and vital component of our body. Our body requires iron to stay healthy and to function appropriately in a normal way. That is why we intake the required amount of iron everyday through various means. The means of in taking iron involves food, drinks, or supplements.

Importance of Iron:

Iron is one of the vital minerals for our body and has high value and importance. The first and the foremost importance of iron is carriage of oxygen to various parts of the body including blood and muscles. It carries oxygen in the blood in the form of hemoglobin, and the muscles get it through the form of myoglobin. The rate of absorption of the iron varies from body to body. The absorbing power of the body is only that much amount of iron that it requires.

What happens when iron becomes excess:

How dangerous iron overdose can be, can be easily estimated by the fact that iron overdose can lead to death in many cases. Yes, iron overdose can be fatal and can kill the one taking in too much iron. This is because of the fact that the iron is accumulated in the body and the rate of loosing it is very slow. Thus, too much intake or iron overdose can damage the storage parts like heart, Brain etc.

Symptoms of Iron Overdose:

The primary effect of iron overdose is strong irritation and formations of various ulcers near the lining of the lower abdomen. Also many a time severe stomach ache or abdominal pain, with vomiting after 20 minutes of eating can also be the symptoms of iron overdose.


Iron overdose can also be referred to as iron poisoning since it is too dangerous. Thus, once iron overdose is confirmed, the person should immediately refer to poison control specialists. They can either remove the extra iron from the stomach, or can go for the chelating agents. The chelating agents help in eliminating the extra iron from the body by binding with it. 

Symptoms of Iron Overdose

Iron supplements can cause the overdose of iron in the body which further can cause nausea or abdominal pain, black faeces and constipation/diarrhoea.

It may also cause cirrhosis of the liver. The start of symptoms for iron intake exceeding limits range from irritation and ulceration in stomach lining to affecting all the organs. Iron overdose impacts the heart and brain and initiates their damage. It can further lead to heart attack or stroke. Atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease are some of the further complications of iron related problems.

Sideroblastic anemia
Porphyria cutanea tarda
Sickle-cell anemia


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