Understanding The Iron-Dementia Connection
Attempting to decipher the causes of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, is no easy task. Neurodegenerative diseases are complex and their root causes, to date, have been difficult to pinpoint. That is, of course, the bad news. Yet, there is also good news. Countless studies are being conducted in an attempt to better understand neurodegenerative conditions, how to treat them, how to prevent them and even how to reverse them. As the ranks of the elderly are swelling and expected to expand rapidly in the coming years, it is of paramount importance that new methods are developed for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease.
Beyond medical treatment, there are steps individuals can take to ensure lifelong brain health, such as taking the best vitamin supplements daily.
Dementia and its Connection with Anemia
The mountains of research being conducted into dementia have yielded some unexpected discoveries. One of those results is the apparent connection between anemia and dementia. Initial studies indicate that seniors who also suffer from anemia are substantially more likely to also suffer from dementia. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco concluded that there might be a 60% increased risk of dementia in seniors who are also suffering from anemia.
Anemia means that one has fewer red blood cells. Of course, when one has fewer red blood cells, this means that there will be less oxygen reaching the brain. Thus, those who are anemic will invariably have this problem. What causes anemia? There are several reasons, but by far the largest factor is an iron deficiency.
Treatments for Anemia
The good news is that anemia can both be treated and prevented. Iron supplementation, under the guidance of one’s physician, is a prudent course of action. While the University of California, San Francisco study was a large and well conducted study, it is critical to note that neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia, are quite complex. It is not the best course of action to assume that iron is the cause of dementia, but there does seem to be a clear cut association.
With that stated, however, it is also important to point out that anemia is a sign of overall poor health and this, of course, can contribute to the development of many diseases including neurodegenerative diseases. Anything that impacts the health of the brain or reduces blood flow to the brain may result in an increased risk of brain related health problems.
Exercising, even exercises as “simple” as walking, staying mentally active, learning a new skill, such as a foreign language, playing a musical instrument, eating a healthy diet free of processed foods, and taking a daily multivitamin are all ways to protect your brain as it ages. Consuming foods, such as spinach, that are naturally high in iron stand as a way to boost one’s overall iron levels. Eating foods that will boost your iron levels are not a surefire preventive measure against dementia but this course of action certainly stands as a positive step in the right direction.
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