Interplay Of Iron Inflammation And Neurodegeneration
The immune system similarly plays an important role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases although its interaction with biometals is unappreciated. Immune cells are also equipped with transferrin and ferroportin receptors to enable the influx/efflux of iron to meet their cellular needs. In particular, phagocytic immune cells such as microglia have an important role in the regulation and distribution of iron since they function to engulf and recycle damaged/dying cells and thereby release iron into the brain interstitial space . Intracellular iron accumulation is associated with macrophage infiltration/polarization and increased TNF- expression . Indeed, inflammatory cytokines and mediators such as LPS induce the expression of iron transporter receptors and promote an increase in the accumulation of iron in neurons and microglia .
Why Iron Is So Important
Iron is a mineral your body can absorb from foods like red meat, legumes and spinach. Its essential for the production of hemoglobin, a protein molecule in red blood cells. Hemoglobin, in turn, is essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body.
Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin that holds an iron atom in its center. Oxygen binds to the iron atom. This is how oxygen is carried through the blood and supplied to all the tissues in the body, including hair follicles, explained Dr. Leann Poston, a medical doctor and advisor at Invigor Medical.;
Our bodies shore up supplies of iron by storing a reserve in our muscles, liver, spleen and bone marrow. If youre iron deficient meaning you arent taking in enough iron from your diet your body will use its iron reserves in the short term. But when levels of iron stored in the body become low, iron deficiency anemia sets in.;
Anemia is a condition that happens when there arent enough red blood cells available to carry oxygen throughout the body. While anemia can be caused by low iron levels, it can also be caused by vitamin deficiencies or other illnesses.
So when there isnt enough iron in your bloodstream, red blood cells become smaller and contain less hemoglobin. Without enough hemoglobin, your body cant get the amount of oxygen it needs.
Complications Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
A lack of vitamin B12 can cause complications.
A lack of vitamin B12 can cause neurological problems, which affect your nervous system, such as:
- vision problems
- loss of physical co-ordination , which can affect your whole body and cause difficulty speaking or walking
- damage to parts of the nervous system , particularly in the legs
If neurological problems do develop, they may be irreversible.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can sometimes;lead to temporary infertility, an inability to conceive.
This;usually improves with appropriate vitamin B12 treatment.
If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency caused by pernicious anaemia, a condition where your immune system attacks healthy cells in your stomach, your risk of developing stomach cancer is increased.
Neural tube defects
If you’re pregnant, not having enough vitamin B12 can increase the risk of your baby developing a serious birth defect known as a;neural tube defect.
The neural tube is a narrow channel that eventually;forms the brain and spinal cord.;
Examples of neural tube defects include:
- spina bifida;;where the baby’s spine does not develop properly
- anencephaly;;where;a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull
- encephalocele;;where a membrane or skin-covered sac containing part of the brain pushes out of a hole in the skull
A lack of folate can also cause complications.
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How Can You Prevent Anemia
Caregivers should know that both doctors, Yaffe and Whitmer, emphasize strongly that doctors must routinely test and treat older adults for anemia for both heart and brain health.
The good news is that because anemia is often caused by iron deficiencies either from a poor diet or the side effect of medications, the problem can be quite treatable for many people simply by making easy diet changes and taking inexpensive supplements. Some experts say;those with anemia should load up on steak or spinach to get the iron their bodies require.
While these new studies that point to the strong possibility of an anemia-dementia link, in the interim, moderate, preventative measures are always the best plan as is adopting a healthy Mediterranean diet.
The Role Of Iron In Tbi
Iron deposits that accumulate in the brain can consist of both non-heme and heme iron sub-types. These features are more commonly observed in neurodegenerative conditions such as AD, although increasing evidence suggests that both these subtypes of iron are increased in the injured brain after TBI . Heme-bound iron is commonly found coinciding with intracranial hemorrhage, along with deposition of hemosiderin and ferritin due to the phagocytosis of erythrocytes by microglia/macrophages .
Table 1. Brain iron accumulation in brain injury; evidence from clinical studies.
Table 2. Brain iron accumulation in brain injury; evidence from experimental studies.
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Prevent Dementia With Common Sense Eating
Alzheimers caregivers can do a lot to ensure their loved ones get the right foods to help them live the healthiest, most balanced lives possible. Steak and spinach, in healthy moderation, are ideal sources of iron.
Caregivers should also make sure their loved ones get plenty of memory boosting super foods like veggies, especially leafy greens, as well as Omega-3 rich foods like salmon and other cold-water fish or beans and flax seeds. Anti-oxidant rich foods like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other dark-skinned fruits. Extra virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal which helps break down the amyloid plaques that are associated with Alzheimers disease. Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil boosts ketones, thyroid function and is a natural antibiotic.
And, last, but certainly not least: go ahead and enjoy that delicious chocolate. Studies show that both the caffeine and the antioxidants may help ward off age-related memory impairment.
When it comes to preventing anemia and keeping your loved one healthy, are you talking to their doctor and making sure theyre tested for anemia? What else can you do to help them stay well?
Iron Deficiency Symptoms Causes And Prevention
Iron deficiency can occur for a number of reasons, from related medical conditions to blood loss to diet choices. If the case is severe, untreated, and/or prolonged, iron-deficiency anemiaa decrease in the quantity, size, and function of the red blood cellscan result, having several notable consequences. At a minimum, low iron levels can make you feel tired and weak, impact your concentration, and cause dry skin and nails. But it can also cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath, increased risk for infections, and more.
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Prevalence Of Iron Deficiency And Iron Deficiency Anemia
Of all micronutrient deficiencies, iron deficiency is most prevalent worldwide. It affects all age groups and demographics; however, prevalence is higher in pubescent women, pregnant women, infants and preschool-age children. Rates of anemia in non-pregnant women of childbearing age reach approximately 40% in developing countries and 20% in industrialized countries . The incidence of iron deficiency anemia increases further during pregnancy, with rates in developing and industrialized countries reaching 59% and 24%, respectively. The large increase in iron deficiency in pregnant women in developing countries may be due to poor nutrition education and lack of iron supplements .
Table 1. Prevalence of iron deficiency anemia around the world.
Symptom: What Is Brain Fog
Brain fog, also known as mental fatigue, refers to transient periods of cognitive mental dysfunction that affects memory and concentration.;It can be a symptom of a medical condition and can also be related to lifestyle conditions including stress and diet.
Brain fog can make you feel as though your thought, understanding and memory processes are not functioning as they should and you may become forgetful or unable to store or recall information. Your ability to understand language, draw pictures;or recognize shapes may deteriorate. Calculating sums, organizing and planning activities, and problem solving may all become more difficult when experiencing brain fog. Most people experiencing brain fog agree it makes them feel heavy and disconnected, and that there is a thought or action they must carry out but are not able to as they are confused or unable to concentrate. Brain fog encompasses a variety of components and you only need a few of these traits for brain fog to be present.;Brain fog;can come and go over a;period of time and symptoms can last for weeks;or months.;
How Is An Iron Deficiency Diagnosed
The best way to tell if your iron levels are too low is to ask you health care practitioner to do a simple blood test. The types of blood test that are relevant for the diagnosis of anemia include the red blood cell count, the hematocrit , and the hemoglobin level. Further tests can determine the size and shape of the red blood cells to determine the exact type of anemia that may be present. Blood tests are also available that can evaluate your body’s storage of iron.
How Much Do You Need
The daily iron requirement your body needs for optimal health has been determined by the Institutes of Medicine according to age and gender. These amounts represent the total recommended intake from food, multivitamins and supplements.
- Children 1 to 3 years of age: 7 milligrams; 4 to 8 years of age: 10 milligrams; 9 to 13 years of age: 8 milligrams
- Teens 14 to 18 years of age: boys 11 milligrams; girls 15 milligrams
- Adults 19 to 50 years of age: women 18 milligrams; men 8 milligrams
- Adults 51 years and older: 8 milligrams
- Pregnant and lactating women: 9 to 27 milligrams
Many foods contain iron. Heme iron, the type found in animal-based foods, is more easily absorbed than iron from plant sources, called non-heme iron. Some foods, such as breads and breakfast cereals, are fortified with non-heme iron to help you maintain a healthy level of iron. Choose from these good sources of iron:
- Meat, such as organ meat, beef, turkey, lamb
- Fish and seafood, such as tuna, oysters, clams, shrimp
- Vegetables, such as spinach and peas
- Beans and legumes, such as kidney, lima, lentils
- Nuts and some dried fruits, such as raisins
To make iron from food more bioavailable to your body, include vitamin C-rich foods or beverages with your meal.
Read more:Foods That Inhibit Iron Absorption
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Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin B12;deficiency can be slow to develop, causing symptoms to appear gradually and intensify over time. It can also come on relatively quickly. Given the array of symptoms a vitamin B12;deficiency can cause, the condition can be overlooked or confused with something else. Vitamin B12deficiency symptoms may include:
- strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet
- difficulty walking
- difficulty thinking and reasoning , or memory loss
While an experienced physician may notice the symptoms and be able to detect a vitamin B12;deficiency with a good interview and physical exam, a blood test is needed to confirm the condition.
Its a good idea to ask your doctor about having your B12;level checked if you are a strict vegetarian or have had weight-loss surgery or have a condition that interferes with the absorption of food.
Early detection and treatment is important. If left untreated, the deficiency can cause severe neurologic problems and blood diseases.
What Causes Iron Deficiency
There are 3 main causes of iron deficiency.
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Could Dementia And Anemia Be Linked
A recent study has concluded that people with both higher-than-normal and lower-than-normal levels of hemoglobin have a higher risk of developing dementia as they age.
Hemoglobin is a protein present in red blood cells.
It is responsible for carrying life giving oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Low levels of hemoglobin normally signify anemia.
Anemia is one of the most common blood disorders; worldwide, it affects an estimated 1.62 billion people.
Low hemoglobin levels are linked to a number of adverse health outcomes, including stroke and coronary heart disease. However, there is little information regarding how hemoglobin levels might relate to the risk of dementia.
Recently, researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, decided to look for links between hemoglobin levels, anemia, and dementia. They published their findings this week in the journal Neurology.
Earlier experiments had found an association between anemia and dementia, but most studies only followed participants for an average of 3 years.
Because of the relatively short duration of these investigations, subtle changes in behavior, diet, or metabolism during the early phases of dementia might explain the association they found.
The researchers decided to extend this time frame to develop a clearer picture.
In males, anemia rates increased with age, but in females, anemia was most common before menopause.
What Foods Will Help Build Iron
Intake of Iron rich food boosts your red blood cells which can help to fight with iron deficiency. Shutterstock Images
There many foods available that contain iron to boost your energy. Although not everyone eats meat, it is a good choice if you are iron deficient.
Meat contains heme iron, which is found in animals and typically attached to proteins, called heme proteins. Heme is the best source of iron for people who are iron deficient.
Non-heme iron food choices are beneficial too. They can be found in vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, some processed foods and iron supplements.
Are You Deficient In Iron
The most common cause of iron deficiency is from loss of blood. Some situations that may put you at risk for being deficient in iron can result from:
- Frequently donating blood
- Having a medical condition that causes genitourinary bleeding, such as from the bladder, prostate or urethra, or respiratory tract bleeding, such as from an infection
- Experiencing heavy menstrual periods
- Blood loss from conditions such as peptic ulcer, a colon polyp, hiatal hernia or uterine fibroids
- Health condition that inhibits absorption of iron, such as Crohn’s disease, gastric bypass surgery or celiac disease
- Pregnancy and increased demand of iron for tissue growth and bleeding during delivery
- Eating a vegetarian or vegan diet
If you risk having a low-iron level you should be aware that a deficiency may not be immediately noticeable and can go undiagnosed as your body uses its stored iron. When the iron in your body is depleted, the results can be serious health problems or iron deficiency anemia. According to an article in Clinical Case Reports, published in June 2018, 10 to 20 percent of menstruating women have an iron deficiency and 3 to 5 percent are anemic.
Are You At Risk Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
There are many causes for vitamin B12;deficiency. Surprisingly, two of them are practices often undertaken to improve health: a vegetarian diet and weight-loss surgery.
Plants dont make vitamin B12. The only foods that deliver it are meat, eggs, poultry, dairy products, and other foods from animals. Strict vegetarians and vegans are at high risk for developing a B12;deficiency if they dont eat grains that have been fortified with the vitamin or take a vitamin supplement. People who have weight-loss surgery are also more likely to be low in vitamin B12;because the operation interferes with the bodys ability to extract vitamin B12;from food.
Conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption, such;celiac;or;Crohns disease, can cause B12trouble. So can the use of commonly prescribed heartburn drugs, which reduce acid production in the stomach . The condition is more likely to occur in older people due to the cutback in stomach acid production that often occurs with aging.
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Neural Tube Defects And Folic Acid
As with a vitamin B12 deficiency, a lack of folate can also affect an unborn baby’s growth and development in the womb .
This increases the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, developing in the unborn baby.
It’s recommended that all women who could get pregnant should take a daily supplement of folic acid.
You should take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid every day before you get pregnant, and up until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
Page last reviewed: 23 May 2019 Next review due: 23 May 2022