Is Iron Good for You?

The spinach thread got me thinking about iron consumption.

Of course, the old wisdom was that everybody needed to get lots of iron, but I remember research a few years back indicating that excess iron was connected to heart disease, and that men, in particular, might want to avoid iron supplements. Not so for women, who lose blood (and iron) regularly through menstruation, and can use the iron replacement provided by supplements.

Anyone know the current wisdom on this? I am a guy. Does this mean I should avoid iron-rich foods, too? (Spinach, red meat) Should I avoid cooking in iron skillets? Does it depend on family medical history? Somebody please give me the skinny.

“Every time you think, you weaken the nation!” --M. Howard (addressing his brother, C. Howard).

Is iron good for you? Well, not if 50 pounds of it falls off of a ten-story building onto your head. Of course, the same thing can be said about bean sprouts.
Get a medical history; there are some genuine cases of iron-storage disease. If you’re neither living on Ho-Hos and Diet Coke, or going to sleep sucking on a mouthful of ball bearings, however, you’re probably getting something like the right amount of iron from your diet.
Remember also that iron compounds come in two valences. I think that the terminology may have changed since I was last in chemistry class, but they used to be called “ferrous” (valence +2) and “ferric” (valence +3). Soluble ferrous compounds are easily oxidized to insoluble ferric ones; “insoluble” == “biologically unavailable” == “a waste of time and money”.

“I don’t just want you to feel envy. I want you to suffer, I want you to bleed, I want you to die a little bit each day. And I want you to thank me for it.” – What “Let’s just be friends” really means