First, let’s back up. Iron is an essential nutrient for women and men. It builds healthy red blood cells that, in turn, carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Muscles need iron as well in order to support muscle metabolism and healthy connective tissue.
Before menopause, women need about 18 milligrams of iron each day, which can be had by eating red meat, organ meat (such as liver), legumes, nuts and leafy greens. In addition, taking an iron supplement is also helpful.
However, after a woman stops menstruating, the requirement for iron decreases to 8 mg or none at all. In fact, taking too much iron can be toxic to cells because there is an inverse relationship between estrogen and iron at menopause: as estrogen declines, iron increases. This imbalance can be extremely damaging to a woman’s health.
Besides regular mammograms and pap smears, a woman should have a full blood panel workup once a year to determine if she has any health issues that need to be addressed. This would include testing for too much iron or iron deficiency.
I know, I know. Just another appointment to add to an already hectic schedule — but an important one.