Therapeutic phlebotomy is the primary modality for reducing iron overload in a patient with hemochromatosis. The patient needs to reduce iron intake and absorption to maintain the benefits of this treatment. In addition, the patient needs to take steps to limit dietary factors that may damage the liver or other organs.


Goals of nutritional and dietary recommendations:

(1) reduce iron intake and absorption

(2) prevent liver damage and other disease


Factors to reduce iron intake:

(1) avoid foods rich in iron

(2) avoid vitamins or dietary supplements enriched with iron

(3) limit vitamin C intake to no more than 500 mg per day (vitamin C enhances iron absorption)


Preventing potential sources of injury:

(1) limit alcohol intake (if coexistent liver disease is present, avoid all alcohol intake)

(2) cook shellfish from warm-waters thoroughly (to prevent Vibrio infections)

(3) avoid supplements with trace minerals unless there is a demonstrated nutritional deficiency


Foods rich in iron:

(1) beef and pork

(2) liver

(3) egg yolks

(4) legumes, beans

(5) dried fruits

(6) green leafy vegetables, broccoli, greens, spinach

(7) molasses

(8) breads or cereals fortified with iron

(9) wines


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