Hi! This is long, I'll apologize in advance. It's just a lot of info: My husband and our two sons all have hemachromatosis. My husband had phlebotomy therapy weekly for about one year, then monthly, then quarterly for maintenance. My youngest son was diagnosed when he was four, and his pediatrician was astonished, having never seen this before. (I just knew to have him tested since we found this out about my husband.) My son had a very high level (I won't quote figures since this was about five years ago-my memory...
). Of course they won't take blood at that age and so I put him on a low-iron diet. This is harder than it seems, but you will be surprised at how dramatically you can lower the iron count! First, become the master of label reading. Many, many breakfast cereals contain 90% RDA of iron in ONE serving! (Watch for any cereals marketed to women, they tend to be iron heavy). Ironically, the more healthful type cereals such as raisin bran and shredded wheats are often the most iron enriched, but check each brand because they are all different! Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles, Golden Pops, are all 10% per serving. Pastas, breads, any flour-based foods need to be checked because the are always "enriched". Whole-wheat bread usually has lower iron than white bread, especially if you are counting two slices. This is very important if you are a cereal eater, too, because one "serving" of breakfast cereal only half fills our Corelle cereal bowls! I showed my youngest what a serving was and demonstrated to him that on some mornings he has 4-5 "servings" of cereal. Even with a 10% RDA of iron, that is 40-50% iron RDA for a normal person, before lunch! Add in a hamburger (beef is high, enriched bun) and you may have blown past the 100% RDA for iron by lunch time. And that RDA is for a person with normal iron. Sorry to rave, anyway, here are some tips:
1) Read all labels and avoid anything with any iron if possible.
2) Avoid red meats of every kind (beef, venison, buffalo, etc...)
3) Avoid white breads particularly, and check iron content on whole grains.
4) Watch serving sizes of foods that do contain iron. (IE: cereal, pasta, etc...)
5) Avoid taking Vitamin C with any foods containing iron. Vit C helps the body absorb iron.
6) Duh!: Check his multivitimin! My husband had been taking one faithfully for years, containing 100% RDA of IRON! Hunt for "Men's Formula" and the "Over Fifty" formulas, but still check the iron content carefully!
7) Watch out for spinach and other dark greens.
8) Women still having their cycle need iron, unless they have been diagnosed as having hemachromatosis
. Make sure that you (the wife) take a multivitamin WITH iron everyday! I made myself sick after I got rid of everything with iron in it in our house> I couldn't figure out why I was so tired and brain fogged and then it occured to me that I still need iron. So watch for that.
My youngest son was tested recently (he is nine now) and his blood was perfectly normal. Yeay! That was totally done through avoiding iron. We were told that my oldest was boderline anemic when he was a baby, so he was only tested recently. Sure enough, he has it too, but his was only on the high/normal range, so we have been extra careful about his diet.
Your husband will probably need phlebotomy anyway, since he is an adult, but it will work more quickly if he isn't downing extra iron every meal, while they are trying to take it out every week. Hope this helps!
PS - Once his iron is down to a normal level, he can pretty much eat whatever food he wants, within reason. It is the cereals and vitamins that will getcha!