Is spirulina causing iron overload?


Helen Connor
 

Can 40 g of spirulina day cause iron overload? Someone just told me it could and I couldn't find a discussion of that in the files.
Thanks for any info.
--
Helen Connor and Blessing (IR/PPID)
Scappoose, OR
Member since May 2017
Case History:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Helen%20and%20Blessing

Photo Album:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=6847


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

No, it can't.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


 

Dr. Kellon, could you explain this further?  I was under the impression that there is a lot of iron in spirulina so I have also cut it out of my minis' diet as they are iron overloaded.  For this reason, I have been looking at the mineral content of a lot of herbs that I used to give, such as spirulina, fenugreek, tumerirc, etc.  Why wouldn't we count the iron content of the herbs we use as part of their daily intake?   

Also, as an example, both my minis test high in selenium and I couldn't figure out why when the hay always tests very low and I don't give anything else other than the custom mixes.  Then when I focused on the milk thistle powder I had been giving to her for her high GGT as being the culprit and you suggested I switch to milk thistle extract powder, that made a huge difference in getting her selenium within control.  Wouldn't the same kind of theory apply to spirulina and iron, etc.? Thanks.
--
June
Oregon, USA
Oct 2012
Case Histories for Sadie and Chip
Sadie's Photos 
Chip's Photos 
Ω


 
Edited

Hi, June, and thank you so much for asking this!!!!  It is of very real concern for everyone who wishes to feed their equines for their optimum health.

There are quite a few inaccuracies out there in cyberland about what might (or might not) be in some supplements and herbs. When you google spirulina and iron deficiency, it looks like all any pregnant human needs to do to deal with iron-deficiency anemia is consume spirulina.   However..... those websites are selling spirulina to people. There is exactly ZERO scientific info on how spirulina might affect iron deficiency in humans. Spirulina has many positive effects (including an anti-histamine effect, that helps a lot with heave-y horses), but providing a boost in iron is not one of those benefits. 

The recommended dose of spirulina is 40 grams for a 1,000 lb horse, so, say, 20 grams or less for a mini.  At 40 grams, the amount of iron is 12 milligrams - not enough to cause concern. To balance that 12 milligrams (not a typo:  mg, not grams), you would only need to add 3 milligrams of copper and 9 milligrams of zinc. Spirulina is absolutely not a concern for iron. 

The *average* iron content of hay fed to a mini (6 pounds or so) will contain about 600 milligrams of iron. (compared to the 12 mg from a big dose of spirulina).  http://equi-analytical.com/interactive-common-feed-profile/

Most herbs have no more iron than hay. Significantly, herbs are used in  amounts of a few grams, while the horse eats hay in amounts of kilograms.   

Most pellets, of any kind, tend to have increased iron just because of the pelleting process - wee bits of metal come off the machines, and into the pellets. Fact of life. 

In Washington State, I would expect forage selenium to be low. (manganese to be high).  However, some plants can be selenium accumulators: sages. for example. The milk thistle, whether powder or extract, really can not be contributing to her selenium intake 

I am happy to be corrected by Dr. Kellon here (which is one of the many reasons I love this group)  I am not the world's greatest physiologist, or biochemist, and I know Dr. Kellon is a physiology geek!

--
Jaini Clougher (BSc, BVSc)
Merlin (over the bridge), Maggie, Gypsy, Ranger
BC 09
ECIR mod/support  https://bit.ly/2MlAtPd  

https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Jaini%20and%20Merlin-Maggie-Gypsy .
https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=34193.
https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=39711


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

I can't for the life of me find it now but I have seen reference to Milk Thistle having potentially high selenium  content (or maybe contamination).  I suspect it also "spares" selenium to some extent since this wasn't the first time I've seen selenium go up when on Milk Thistle. It's not a toxicity issue,  just an increase.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

June,

Dr. Clougher's description of iron in Spirulina is exactly right. There's not enough in there to make a difference. The 40 g may actually supply as much as 24 to 50 mg but still pales compared to to the hay content.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


 

Yes, all I can say is that Sadie's high selenium levels (not toxic but just very high), started to come down to a reasonable level when I switched to the milk thistle extract powder that you suggested to me.  I don't know all the theory behind it all, I just know it has been working that way for Sadie and Chip. 
--
June
Oregon, USA
Oct 2012
Case Histories for Sadie and Chip
Sadie's Photos 
Chip's Photos 
Ω


 

Dr. Kellon, even though the amount of iron in spirulina is not much, because I have iron overloaded minis, I guess my thinking is that even a little in a lot of different herbs may end up affecting the total iron intake in my guys, especially Chip, who has to be on soaked pelleted feed.  I don't measure out my herbs...I just add a sprinkle to each meal...so have no idea how many mg that equates to.  So I just try and stay away from herbs that are high in iron.  Is this still overkill? 
--
June
Oregon, USA
Oct 2012
Case Histories for Sadie and Chip
Sadie's Photos 
Chip's Photos 
Ω


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

Everything you feed has iron in it. All the herbs might be overkill unless you have a specific reason for giving them. Peppermint can actually help chelate iron when prepared as a tea using 20 g of peppermint/liter of water and substituting that for all water consumed.  For a mini in cool weather that would be minimum 4 to 5 liters/day so 80 to 100 grams of peppermint.  Should mention here I tried this with an iron overloaded horse and it didn't work.

If you go here:

https://phytochem.nal.usda.gov/phytochem/chemicals/show/10201?qlookup=iron&offset=0&max=20&et=C 

and click on the heading High ppm it will sort the herbs by iron content, highest first
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


 

Oh thank you Dr. Kellon.  I sprinkle the herbs to encourage Chip and Sadie to finish their supplements.  Otherwise, they tend not to clean it up.  I did try a peppermint infused tea at one point and sprayed that over their supplements and they seemed to like that.  I think I will go back to doing that since it sounds like a safe thing.  I was trying to use different herbs in case any one of them given long term would not be good.  Thank you for the site.  This will be very helpful to me.
--
June
Oregon, USA
Oct 2012
Case Histories for Sadie and Chip
Sadie's Photos 
Chip's Photos 
Ω