Are your iron supplements putting you at risk for a serious skin infection?

As a woman and former vegan, I’ve trained myself to always keep one nutrient top of mind — iron

But I’m not the only one who should be thinking about iron regularly. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the U.S. And certain people have an unusually high risk…

Women, anyone who doesn’t eat meat, kids, and people who donate blood a lot should all take extra measures to get enough iron.

Iron deficiency, as you probably know, causes anemia. And anemia can get severe. It can even cause heart problems if it’s not treated. Plus, it makes you feel lousy. You get headaches, dizziness, and lightheadedness. You feel weak and fatigued. And who needs that?

Related: 9 strange signs you’re anemic

But what happens if you overdo the iron?

According to a new research paper, it could be just as bad. It could even put you at risk for a serious skin infection.

Peak Golden Oil

The golden-colored oil of the Nigella sativa plant contains compounds essential for a healthy immune system. That explains why it was documented in the oldest medical writings. But we don’t just rely on history to prove the therapeutic benefit of… MORE⟩⟩


Excess iron gives you better cholesterol but a higher risk of cellulitis from staph

A new research paper published in PLOS Medicine dove into the connection between iron intake and diseases.

Researchers took data from 500,000 people to see how their iron intake affected their risk of developing 900 diseases and conditions. Here’s what they found…

Excess iron can reduce your risk of high cholesterol… which is great. That means it could help prevent heart disease and strokes. But this benefit comes with some baggage…

High iron increases your risk of bacterial skin infections like abscesses and cellulitis. In case you don’t know, cellulitis is a common skin infection that happens when streptococcus and staphylococcus bacteria get into your skin. And it can turn serious fast.

If you have cellulitis, your skin will be red, swollen and warm to the touch. It’ll probably feel tender too. If you experience these symptoms, you’ll want to seek medical attention ASAP. Cellulitis spreads quickly and can even kill you.

Why would excess iron increase your odds of developing this serious skin infection?

Well, previous research shows that bacteria need iron to survive. When there’s plenty of iron to go around, they spread quickly.

How to get enough (but not too much) iron

So, the million-dollar question is… how do you get enough iron without going overboard and putting yourself at risk for skin infections?

Well, start by getting your RDA of iron. Women between 19 and 50 years old need 18 mg per day. Women 51 and older need 8 mg per day. Pregnant women need 27 mg per day. And lactating women need 9 mg per day. Men 19 or older need 8 mg per day.

Once you’re vigilant about getting enough iron daily for a while, get your iron levels tested to see where you stand. Some people don’t absorb iron well due to a variety of factors, so this is a good way to tell if you need to go beyond the iron RDA.

There are also some people who are prone to accruing excess iron in their body. In fact, there’s a condition called hereditary hemochromatosis that causes people to accrue dangerous levels of iron. But even if you don’t have this rare condition, it’s easy to end up with high iron levels… especially if you’re older than 67. Research shows that older adults are more likely to have high iron levels.

One of the most common ways people overdo iron is by taking supplements. Multivitamin supplements usually contain 100 percent of your RDA of iron, but iron supplements often contain 365 percent of your iron RDA.

That’s why, unless you’re at risk for low levels, it’s safer to get iron by eating iron-rich foods, like:

  • Meat
  • Beans
  • Pumpkin and squash seeds
  • Leafy greens
  • Dried fruit
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Potato
  • Stewed or sundried tomatoes
  • Nuts

Editor’s note: Most people don’t realize this, but cholesterol creates all the important hormones in your body — progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, and testosterone. Without adequate amounts to fuel this process, your health, and sexual vitality take a huge hit. For more surprising cholesterol truths, click here!


  1. High on iron? It stops anaemia but has a downside — MedicalXpress
  2. What are the symptoms of an iron deficiency? — Medical News Today
  3. Iron Deficiency Anemia Secondary to Inadequate Dietary Iron Intake — Healthline
  4. Iron deficiency anemia — Mayo Clinic
  5. Cellutlitis — Mayo Clinic
  6. Iron: Fact Sheet for Professionals — National Institutes of Health
  7. Everything you need to know about iron — Medical News Today
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and