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Mobilization of Stored Iron in Mammals: A Review
Open AccessReview

Iron, Human Growth, and the Global Epidemic of Obesity

Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, PA 17821, USA
Environmental Public Health Division, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, US Environmental Protection Agency, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2013, 5(10), 4231-4249;
Received: 30 August 2013 / Revised: 27 September 2013 / Accepted: 12 October 2013 / Published: 22 October 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Iron and Human Health)
PDF [246 KB, uploaded 22 October 2013]


Iron is an essential nutrient utilized in almost every aspect of cell function and its availability has previously limited life. Those same properties which allow iron to function as a catalyst in the reactions of life also present a threat via generation of oxygen-based free radicals. Accordingly; life exists at the interface of iron-deficiency and iron-sufficiency. We propose that: (1) human life is no longer positioned at the limits of iron availability following several decades of fortification and supplementation and there is now an overabundance of the metal among individuals of many societies; (2) this increased iron availability exerts a positive effect on growth by targeting molecules critical in regulating the progression of the cell cycle; there is increased growth in humans provided greater amounts of this metal; and indices of obesity can positively correlate with body stores of iron; and (3) diseases of obesity reflect this over-abundance of iron. Testing potential associations between iron availability and both obesity and obesity-related diseases in populations will be difficult since fortification and supplementation is so extensively practiced. View Full-Text
Keywords: ferritin; iron-deficiency anemia; foods; fortified; oxidative stress ferritin; iron-deficiency anemia; foods; fortified; oxidative stress

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Sangani, R.G.; Ghio, A.J. Iron, Human Growth, and the Global Epidemic of Obesity. Nutrients 2013, 5, 4231-4249.

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