Eating, Diet, and Nutrition for Hemochromatosis

What should I eat if I have hemochromatosis?

If you have hemochromatosis, you should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Talk with your doctor, a dietitian, or a nutritionist about healthy eating.

What should I avoid eating if I have hemochromatosis?

Your doctor may recommend avoiding

  • raw or undercooked shellfish, which can cause a serious infection in people with liver disease
  • supplements that contain iron
  • supplements that contain vitamin C, which can increase the body’s absorption of iron

Talk with your doctor before using dietary supplements, such as vitamins, or any complementary or alternative medicines, such as herbal or botanical medicines. Dietary and herbal supplements are usually safe, but some may contain high levels of iron or unsafe chemical or herbal products.

If you have hemochromatosis and don’t have cirrhosis, your doctor may recommend limiting the amount of alcohol you drink to help prevent liver damage. If you have cirrhosis, you should stop drinking alcohol completely.

Most people with hemochromatosis do not need to change their diet to eat less iron. Diet changes have a relatively small effect on iron levels, compared to the much larger effect of removing iron during phlebotomy treatment.

January 2020
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.