Copper, which is displaced by excess vitamin C is essential for the formation of hemoglobin that carries oxygen to the tissues, and removes carbon dioxide. Iron is also essential for the formation of hemoglobin, although iron absorption is increased by vitamin C. This all brings up an interesting problem. If iron levels are increased by improved absorption from vitamin C but hemoglobin cannot be formed due to lack of copper, what happens to all the iron being absorbed?
As with copper and vitamin C, iron is essential for the body and serves various purposes. Although, as with copper and vitamin C excess levels of iron can be dangerous. And since the body has no efficient way of ridding itself of excess iron iron levels may easily build up to toxic levels.
As iron accumulates in the body it is primarily stored in organs and glands where it can lead to organ failure and glandular damage. The heart, liver and pancreas are at the greatest risk of damage and failure from iron overload.
Side effects of iron overload include heart disorders, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, parathyroid damage resulting in low blood calcium, pituitary gland dysfunction, atrophy of the testes and ovaries, nervous system damage and disorders, arthritic disorders, graying or bronzing of the skin and decreased energy levels. Numerous microbes and protozoa thrive with high iron levels. These include Candida, Listeria, Chlamydia, Salmonella, Plasmodium, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Cryptococcus, Campylobacter, Pseudomonas, Helicobacter pylori Escherichia coli and numerous others.
Iron overload is also known to increase the risk of various cancers including liver cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, breast cancer, melanoma and colon cancer. The increased risk of cancer is probably due to the increased activity of cancer pathogens. For example, human papilloma virus (HPV) has been linked to several cancers including breast cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer. Human herpes virus type 8 has been linked to the viral form of Kaposi’s sarcoma. Liver cancer has been linked to hepatitis viruses and aflatoxins from the fungus Aspergillus niger.
Arthritis may occur from iron overload due to two factors. Oxidative destruction can lead to joint damage. In addition, certain forms of arthritis are triggered from pathogens. For example, rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to an infection with a form of Chlamydia bacteria.
Heart disease due to iron overload is generally believed to result from oxidative damage to the arterial lining, and to the heart muscle itself. There may be a secondary factor though. Scientists have found a link between Chlamydia bacteria and arteriosclerosis, which may lead to arrhythmias, angina and heart attack.
Excess levels of iron have also been found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. As with the excessive aluminum levels found in the brains of Alzheimer’s excessive iron levels have not been proven to be a cause of Alzheimer’s. Although, it is hypothesized that the excessive level of iron may be causing oxidative damage to the brain leading to Alzheimer’s disease.