Vitamin C & iron overload

Now that I have a nurse, I am sick.  I was a little lurgied when I was home alone, but once Favourite Handyman came in on his white horse (which looked remarkably like the West Coast Shuttle bus), I descended, almost in a faint, into his arms, replete with that scary white river of cold down my chest which in my experience indicates an infection.

I am pleased to report that his excellent nursing means I am mostly out of bed now and showing signs of improvement.  I've been drinking lemon drinks, miso soup, spicey chorizo soup and blackcurrant syrup with vitamin C.

I'm still trying to learn more about vitamin C and haemochromatosis.  The received wisdom for persons with haemochromatosis is that they should not take supplemental vitamin C.  Vitamin C asssists the absorption of iron in the human body.

Which seems simple and straightforward enough, except that I have had such good success in improving my own health with supplemental vitamin C.  Given my dramatic history of, following a huge dose of antibiotics for mastitis, developing a debilitating round of arthritis which no one could explain, I'm very wary of taking antibiotics.  Aggressive use of vitamin C staved off the need for antibiotics when I had a chest infection two years ago and it has helped me conquer many a lurgy since.  I suspect it is helping today.  I've also found it helpful as a response to my arthritis flare ups.  What is most definitely a possible cause of the arthritis in the first place?  Iron overload.

Literature about the health benefits of high vitamin C intake show it reduces diabetes and cancer rates significantly.  (For example, see here)  Diabetes and cancer risks go up significantly with untreated haemochromatosis.  I've read speculation online that vitamin C helps regulate iron rather than just assists in the absorption of it.  I'm inclined to speculate the same thing, but there are no studies done that I can find any whisper of that look at that.  There is the slightest reference to capacity for further research in this direction in this footnote:
1) Bendich A, Cohen M. Toxicol Lett. 1990 Apr;51(2):189-201. Ascorbic acid safety: analysis of factors affecting iron absorption. “Three parameters associated with iron absorption were identified: (1) a relatively shallow slope for the dose-response curve relating ascorbic acid dosage (1-1000 mg) and percent iron absorption; (2) no significant effect of ascorbic acid on the absorption of high (60 mg) iron doses; and (3) an inverse relationship between iron absorption and plasma transferrin saturation. Ascorbic acid did not increase the incidence of 'high' iron absorbers (greater than 2 SD from population mean) above control levels; limited data for ascorbic acid doses greater than 100 mg/d indicated no change in the distribution of iron absorption values.” PMID: 2184546
from this source. Now I have put the reference details into google search, it appears that only the abstract may have been read by the authors I linked to.

It's a shame I can't order up new medical research like a Happy Meal at McDonalds.  I have been looking into ways in which I am unwittingly imbibing extra iron though.  This is the Australia New Zealand Food Standards code as it relates to fortifying foods.  I may start coughing up the extra cash to buy organic bread.  My response to crappy commercial bread a few years ago was to make my own, but I don't have the time resources to make that commitment now.  I stopped making it because it was so yummy that I was eating too much of it.


Anonymous said…
I wonder how much it would cost to courier a box of sourdough rye bread to Westport! We no longer know how much it costs us to bake bread, but last week when the kids saw loaves in the organic shop for $6 (small) to $9 (average), and the shop assistant assured us they sell, they started wondering about going in to business!
Sandra said…
Hi Rachael. Courier costs inter-island are quite substantial. I paid $26 for a box of garlic to be couriered from Raglan this year.

But. A friend in England who was an excellent baker set up a business in her village making bread to order two days a week (I think she started with one). It gave the people in her village an opportunity to buy and eat truly excellent bread and her an opportunity to use her skills to get an income without devoting the whole week to it. I think your children could have a viable project!
Sandra said…
Rachael - Here is Jemma's website:

She started making bread for her family just like you. Wonderful woman. We used to promote and sell cloth nappies together.

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