One in every 250 individuals of northern European descent suffers a genetic iron overload syndrome known as hemochromatosis, which causes the body to absorb large amounts of iron it doesn’t need and can result in an iron buildup in organs. Eventually, organ damage, such as cirrhosis of the liver or heart failure, may develop.
Hemochromatosis usually goes undetected until midlife, when its symptoms (fatigue, achy joints, weakness) become evident. Those with a family history of the condition should be tested by a physician. Otherwise, experts reiterate that individuals shouldn’t take iron supplements without a doctor’s recommendation since iron supplements can accelerate the effects of undetected hemochromatosis.