The study in mice found that the animals who had a high intake of dietary iron had lower levels of the hormone Leptin. Leptin plays a major role in the regulation of appetite and has been shown to be strongly linked to overweight and obesity - with many obese individuals having low levels of leptin or being resistant to the hormone.
The iron found in animal products such as meat, fish and eggs is much more readily absorbed than the iron found in plant sources - and it’s often been found that vegans have lower levels of iron. This has been seen as a downside of a vegan diet, but this new evidence now suggests otherwise.
In addition to these latest findings, there has been significant evidence over recent years linking red meat intake to colorectal cancer. This has led to the World Cancer Research Fund recommendations to limit red meat intake to less than 500g (cooked weight). This includes beef, pork and lamb. In addition they recommend eating as little as possible of processed meats like ham, bacon and salami.
The latest research is also a strong reminder that supplementation of individual nutrients such as iron without first testing for deficiency may be detrimental to health, so always check with your GP if you think you may be lacking in any nutrients before self-supplementing.
Written by Ruth Tongue
Gao, Y Adipocyte iron regulates leptin and food intake. Journal of Clinical Investigation. Sept, 2015, Vol. 125 issue 9, p3681