Dementia: iron supplements may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s

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Dementia is often described as a death sentence because it currently has no cure and progression of symptoms is inevitable. However, research continues to suggest that the risk of developing brain decline is modifiable. Surprising risk factors have been linked to brain decline.

Dr. George Bartzokis, professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and lead author of the study, and his colleagues tested their hypothesis that high tissue iron content caused the degradation of tissues associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

They targeted the vulnerable hippocampus, a key area of ​​the brain involved in forming memories, and compared it to the thalamus, which is relatively untouched by Alzheimer’s disease until the very late stages of the disease.

The researchers used an MRI technique that can measure the amount of iron in the brain from ferritin, a protein that stores iron, in 31 patients with Alzheimer’s disease and 68 healthy control subjects.

In diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, as the structure of cells breaks down, the amount of water in the brain increases, which can obscure the detection of iron, according to Dr. Bartzokis.

“It’s difficult to measure iron in tissue when the tissue is already damaged,” he said.

“But the MRI technology we used in this study allowed us to determine that the increase in iron occurs at the same time as tissue damage. We found that the amount of iron is increased in the hippocampus and is associated with it. to tissue damage in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but not in healthy elderly people – or in the thalamus. The results therefore suggest that iron build-up may indeed contribute to the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. ‘Alzheimer’s. “

But the study also gave encouraging results, noted Dr. Bartzokis.

“The buildup of iron in the brain can be influenced by changing environmental factors, such as the amount of red meat and iron supplements we consume and, in women, pre-menopausal hysterectomies,” a- he declared.

How much iron to consume

According to the Department of Health and Welfare, most people should be able to get all the iron they need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

If you are taking iron supplements, do not take too much as it could be harmful.

“Taking 17 mg or less per day of iron supplements is unlikely to cause harm. But keep taking a higher dose if a doctor advises you,” advises the DHSC.


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