Hemochromatosis is an iron disorder in which the body absorbs and stores too much iron. There are two types of hemochromatosis – primary and secondary. Secondary hemochromatosis is usually the result of another disease that causes an iron overload.
Primary hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder that leads to an excess of iron in the body’s joints and organs, causing serious damage and can be fatal if left untreated. Iron is found in many foods and normally people absorb only about 8-10% of this iron in order to make hemoglobin to carry oxygen in the blood.
People who do not have adequate iron in their diet suffer from anemia, while people affected with hemochromatosis can absorb 3 – 4 times more iron than normal. The excess iron cannot be excreted and accumulates in organs and tissues, eventually leading to serious health complications.