Iron is an essential nutrient and provides good vibrant health when a balanced level is maintained. However imbalanced iron levels at both extremes cause disease.
Low iron results in compromised thyroid function, low metabolism, low energy, fatigue, and anemia. On average women of child bearing age are far more likely to suffer from iron deficiency mainly due to the blood loss associated with menstruation.
Plasma Ferritin levels indicate the amount of iron stores that the body has. When Ferritin drops below 50 ng/ml (or 50 ug/l) indications of compromised thyroid function begin to become pronounced. This produces a reduction in the metabolic rate and fatigue, low energy, low body temperature.
Optimal Ferritin levels for Thyroid function are between 90 ng/ml and 105 ng/ml and so optimum levels for health should be between these. Labs however use a bell-curve to determine acceptable iron levels that excludes the 2.5% beyond either end of the curve. If the whole population has on average a concentration excessive of the optimum, then these values are not an indication of healthy levels. I think this is the case with Ferritin where the typical lab calls levels between 12 ng/ml and 300 ng/ml normal. The range for optimal health is far narrower and lower than these labs and your doctor indicate.
Of the two extremes and less well known, high iron levels in the body are far more dangerous and more common.
Iron is an oxidizing agent and it is difficult to remove from the body. When you have a marked excess iron overwhelms your anti-oxidant battery and places you into a constant state of oxidative stress where every cell, every organ, every tissue, and every bodily function is being both compromised and damaged. This state will support and accelerate the deterioration of your health in the direction of inflammatory disease, and all major disease types are now associated with inflammation. It will atrophy muscle, bone, and all internal organs including the brain.
If you are struggling to get your body into a state of alkaline balance and you keep failing at it, then get your plasma Ferritin level checked. Excessive iron creates a state of metabolic acidosis. No amount of green leafy vegetables in your diet are going to reset this.
Smokers are at particular risk of excess iron levels because the particulate matter from cigarette smoke raises the iron level in your lungs and upsets the iron homeostasis of the body. This explains why people who quit do not get an equivalent reduction in the incidence of lung diseases related to smoking. It takes years to get these accumulations down in the lungs when left on their own.
Foggy thinking, mood disorders, and mental problems are also a problem as are fatigue and lack of energy. Alzheimer’s has also been linked to iron overload.