Natural Iron Chelation For Iron Overload
Being a Thalassemia Major, I have always been on the lookout for natural iron chelators to reduce Ferritin. Growing up, the only option I had was Desferal (DFX), but I would get a fever and a rash the next day. So I could never comply.
The past 20 years have been really good for Thalassemics as we now have drugs like Deferiprone (DFP) and Deferasirox (DFO). There are oral drugs and have greatly improved compliance in Thalassemics who could not comply with Desferal. The quality and quantity of life for Thalassemia Major patients have greatly improved due to these and Thalassemia is no longer considered a children’s disease as it used to be.
Other than medicines, I have always been interested in natural sources of iron chelation. I wrote this article to list some of the best natural chelators for iron overload.
Don’t forget to check out my article on How to Reduce Iron Levels with Food & Diet. It will help you out if you are trying to reduce your iron and ferritin levels.
Curcumin is a naturally occurring chemical found in Turmeric and is responsible for its yellow color.
Research has shown Curcumin to be a highly effective iron chelator in different studies. Other than that, it is also an excellent anti-inflammatory which is great for thalassemia patients with joint pains.
Adding Turmeric to your diet can be really beneficial due to its potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and free radical scavenging properties. Talk to your hematologist about it and see how you can benefit from it.
I have been taking it in a supplement form that includes Turmeric as well as black pepper to increase absorption of Turmeric. It’s called Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine & Ginger 95% Curcuminoids 1950mg.(affiliate link)
You can find it on Amazon or from your local nutrition store.
Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6)
IP-6, also known as Phytic Acid, is a naturally occurring component in grains, legumes, and seeds.
It is a natural antioxidant and has even shown iron chelation properties. It is also commonly labeled as an anti-nutrient as it hinders the absorption of minerals like calcium, copper, zinc, and iron from the diet. This exact property of IP6 is exactly what is helpful for Thalassemia Major patients.
The product I use is Nature’s Way Cell Forté IP-6 & Inositol (affiliate link) and you can easily find it on Amazon or at your local nutrition store.
Tea is my favorite item on this list. I have grown to love tea and even now I write this article while having a cup of tea.
It has become essential for me after every meal as it hinders the absorption of dietary iron. Even though I can’t quantify the results for myself, but studies have shown that tea has tannins and oxalates which inhibit the absorption of iron.
So I would recommend you add tea to your diet after every meal to inhibit iron absorption. Doesn’t matter if it’s green tea, black tea, chai tea, or coffee. Just make sure you are supplementing zinc, calcium, and other minerals which will also be chelated by tea.
Alternatively, you can add Green Tea Extract to your diet as well. If you want a good product, I recommend going for Puritan’s Pride Green Tea Extract.
Quercetin is a flavanoid (plant chemical) found in fruits and vegetables.
Many studies have shown its iron-chelating properties. It is found in onions, apples, honey (read this article on how to buy pure honey), raspberries, red grapes, cherries, citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and cabbage.
You can also find it in supplement form on Amazon or from any nutrition store. I would recommend Jarrow’s Formula Quercetin 500 mg (affiliate link) as they maintain their quality standards, and are a trusted name. I haven’t used their Quercetin yet, but it is already on my shopping list for next month.
The focus of most Thalassemia Major patients is iron chelation therapy and we have some excellent drugs for that like Desferal, Exjade, and Deferiprone. However, there are many natural sources of food that serve as iron chelators and we, as patients, can greatly benefit from consuming them on a daily basis.
So if you have iron overload due to any reason, you can greatly benefit from adding these foods and supplements to your daily diet. They are not only for iron overload from thalassemia or hemochromatosis. They can be used by anyone as they are natural and quite safe.
These foods not only help chelate iron but also strengthen the immune system and have high antioxidant activity which helps reduce the oxidative stress which our bodies go through due to multiple transfusions.
I would recommend that you speak to your doctor about these natural iron chelators and start reducing your iron overload.