After mentioning potential risks associated with iron intake
above necessary levels to some friends, some of whom seemed
skeptical, I gathered some of the data, which, having
collected, I thought I'd share with folks here...
This review from "Nutrition Today" (5/6/97) by two leading
researchers examines risks associated with iron and concludes
that apart from deficiencies, "There is little reason to support
a general need for iron supplementation in the diet at any age.
[...] don't expose your system to more iron than it needs."
While essential at recommended levels, iron generates toxic
oxygen radicals. It also notes that iron intake is cumulative,
since "iron accumulates in the brain with normal aging."
Iron's possible supporting role in neurological degeneration:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (May 28, 2002):
"Whereas a decade ago thoughts of metals and Alzheimer's disease
(AD) conjured up thoughts of tossing out your aluminum cookware,
more recently, zinc, copper, and iron have been implicated in
Cellular and Molecular Biology (June 2000): "In several
neurodegenerative diseases, iron accumulates at sites of
brain pathology. Since post-mortem examination cannot
distinguish whether iron accumulation caused the damage or
resulted from damage, it is necessary to manipulate iron in
animal and tissue culture models to assess its causal role(s).
[...] iron supplementation to ID rats increased damage and
microgliosis in the above regions. [...] In addition,
iron+zinc supplementation dramatically increased damage to
hippocampal CA1 whereas zinc supplementation alone had no effect."
Journal of Neurochemistry (July 1992): "Iron, a transition
metal possibly involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's
disease, was tested for its toxic effects toward cultures of
dissociated rat mesencephalic cells. [...] Altogether, these
results suggest (a) that ferrous iron is a potent neurotoxin
for dopaminergic neurons as well as for other cell types in
dissociated mesencephalic cultures [...]."
Professor James Connor (author of "Nutrition Today" review
quoted at top of post): "Our data had led to the discovery
that the brain's ability to mobilize iron is diminished in
Alzheimer's Disease and in specific regions of the brain
in Parkinson's Disease. This diminished iron mobilization
could lead to increased susceptibility to oxidative damage
and cell death; both of which are prominent features in
Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases."
Current Opinion in Chemical Biology (April 4, 2000): "Data
are now rapidly accumulating to show that metallochemical
reactions might be the common denominator underlying
Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, prion
diseases, cataracts, mitochondrial disorders and Parkinson's
disease. In these disorders, an abnormal reaction between a
protein and a redox-active metal ion (copper or iron)
promotes the formation of reactive oxygen species or radicalization."
Alzheimers disease (AD) appears to be associated with
a dysregulation of heavy metals, possibly as a result of
impairment of metallothione (the body's natural defense
against metal toxicity) that may be associated with the
ApoE genetic defect that increases the risk of AD.
Aluminum and Alzheimer's disease:
Mercury and Alzheimer's disease:
"To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals." Ben Franklin
Ongoing CR-monkey-study update: "In the monkeys...those on
reduced feeding since the study started are dying at a rate
that is about half that of the monkeys receiving a full food
ration." Associated Press: Eating less may extend human life.
August 1, 2002 : http://www.msnbc.com/news/788746.asp?0si=-