Medical Question: Why does eating iron-rich foods make me groggy?
April 24, 2009 9:31 AM   Subscribe

I've talked to my GP and done my own research but just can't seem to come up with a reason as to why eating a lot of iron-rich food would make me groggy.

First all of the disclaimers:
1. I've seen a doctor and asked about this.
2. I don't seem to be iron deficient.
3. I'm currently generally healthy.
4. I've had recent blood/urine/etc etc etc tests and come back normal.
5. I know no one here is my doctor - I'm looking for suggestions on things I can research and discuss with my GP.

Now that's out of the way... :)

Whenever I eat food that's high in iron, I end up groggy later that day, sleep a lot that night, and end up groggy the next morning.

For example, last night I ate a big bowl of spaghetti. I went to bed early, slept solidly, then had a hard time getting up this morning.

The same thing happens if I have a large spinach salad.

Just to test this, a while ago I started taking liquid iron supplements. I kept that up for about a week and was mostly a barely walking zombie the whole week.

This is something that probably has been going on all my life, but I only really became aware of it about five years ago. Up until then I had never connected grogginess with iron. I've done as much searching as I can, but can't come up with anything that would cause this. Most sources want to point to an iron deficiency, which isn't the case for me.

Mostly I'm looking for suggestions on what to research or terms to search on. I've tried everything I know and can't seem to find anything helpful.

Thanks in advance.
posted by krisak to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Best answer: I have no idea whether fatigue resulting from iron overload (also known as hemochromatosis) is real or not, but a lot of people seem to have been writing about it.
posted by dersins at 9:49 AM on April 24, 2009

Best answer: You've had blood tests, but you may not have had an "iron panel" done. Test for total iron (or, iron in serum), "iron binding", and "feratin". If any of them come back abnormal, it's a clue that can help your doctor.
posted by Citrus at 10:10 AM on April 24, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks much. Hemochromatosis sounds like it might be the issue. I'll have my GP do an iron panel, since so far I've only had the standard blood tests done.
posted by krisak at 10:16 AM on April 24, 2009

Response by poster: Additionally, looking at the hereditary aspect, it's seeming even more likely since I'm mostly descended from Norwegians.
posted by krisak at 10:19 AM on April 24, 2009

Best answer: Krisak, if you do test positive for hemochromatosis, I strongly suggest that you ask your siblings and kids (if you have any) to get a DNA test. A member of my family has it, and we all had to get tested.

My family member does not get fatigue from iron overload, as a data point. However, if left untreated, it can eventually lead to liver damage, so it's serious enough to check out.
posted by LN at 10:23 AM on April 24, 2009

Response by poster: Good point, LN. I've just told my sister to get tested also.
posted by krisak at 10:35 AM on April 24, 2009

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