While the regular removal of blood (a procedure called phlebotomy) is the most effective treatment for hemochromatosis, diet can help people with the condition feel better about their health. Recommendations for this diet include avoiding iron supplements, limiting vitamin C supplementation to 500 mg per day, avoiding raw shellfish, and limiting alcohol consumption. It is worth noting that diet alone cannot cure the condition.
Phlebotomy is the most simple, inexpensive, and effective treatment for hemochromatosis. There is no evidence that the condition can be treated by diet alone. However, many patients want to combine diet changes with other treatments for hemochromatosis to ensure the best health possible.
Although studies are inconclusive about the dietary factors associated with high iron stores, the following general diet modifications are suggested for people with hemochromatosis.
The following is a list of diet recommendations for those with hemochromatosis:
- Avoid iron supplements.
- Read the labels of multivitamins to make sure they do not contain iron.
- Limit vitamin C supplementation to 500 mg a day. Vitamin C speeds up intestinal iron absorption. Eating natural foods that contain vitamin C is fine.
- Avoid eating raw shellfish. People with hemochromatosis are susceptible to infections with Vibrio vulnificus and Salmonella enteriditis; raw shellfish can contain these bacteria. Cooking destroys germs that are harmful to people with iron overload, so it is okay to eat well-cooked fish and shellfish.
- Avoid more-than-moderate alcohol consumption -- one drink per day for females; no more than two per day for males. Patients with liver damage should avoid alcohol altogether.