Iron a Two-Edged Sword

Iron a Two-Edged Sword
Simple version: Just-published results implicate iron as attacking the brain in middle age and later.
More: Myelin is crucial for effective brain function. In middle age, myelin breaks down, resulting in loss of brain function. Levels of cholestrol and iron continually build during life, hitting a threshold somewhere in midlife when they stimulate protein production that degrades the brain’s myelin, which in turn degrades the internal signaling through which the brain works. Our mental capacities decline.
Runners, especially vegetarians, take iron to prevent anemia, but this result suggests that moderation is appropriate. An interesting circumstantial confirmation comes from the lower incidence of Alzheimers in women, who characteristically have lower iron levels than men. (Original research published in Neurobiology of Aging [January 2004], reported in ScienceDaily.) (12/31/03)

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