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Iron-Rich Diet May Raise Risk of Parkinson's

You Are Twice As Likely To Develop Parkinson's
If You Take A Iron Supplement...
Than Those Who Don't


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - High levels of dietary iron and manganese may raise the risk of Parkinson's disease... a new study shows.

People who consumed high levels of iron and manganese were almost twice as likely to develop the disease as those with a diet that contained lower levels of the two minerals.

Sometimes people end up with overly high levels of vitamins and minerals because they overdo multivitamin supplements, said the study's lead author Karen M. Powers, a research scientist in the department of environmental and occupational health sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle.

In this study, iron levels were high in some cases because people were taking more than one multivitamin or a multivitamin and an iron supplement, Powers said in an interview with Reuters Health.

"Iron and manganese are (each) known to be a neurotoxin in high amounts," Powers said. "When both are high, the effect is more than it would be if you just added the two together."

For the new study, researchers compared 250 people who had been newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease to 388 similar people who did not have the disease.

All 638 people were asked about the foods they ate and the supplements they consumed.

Those who had the highest levels of dietary iron were 1.7 times more likely to have developed Parkinson's than people who consumed the least iron, the researchers report in the journal Neurology.

People who consumed higher than normal levels of iron and manganese were 1.9 times as likely to have developed Parkinson's as people with lower levels of the minerals in their diets.

People who consumed above-average levels of iron and took at least one multivitamin or iron supplement each day were about twice as likely to develop Parkinson's than people with below-average iron consumption who did not usually take supplements.

People shouldn't try to eliminate the two minerals from their diets because of the new results, Powers said.

"We need iron and manganese," Powers said. "But many people think if a little bit of something is good, then a lot is better."

Powers also noted that the purpose of the study was not to develop dietary guidelines, but rather, to try to learn more about the causes of Parkinson's.

Iron and manganese both can contribute to oxidative stress, Powers said. Oxidative stress results when toxic substances called free radicals are released as part of energy consumption and metabolism.

Powers noted that in people with Parkinson's, cells that make a brain chemical called dopamine degenerate over time. "Generally a person who has Parkinson's has lost more than half of these cells," Powers said.

Some researchers suspect that oxidative stress may be involved in the degeneration of the dopamine cells, Powers said. And the fact that iron and manganese raise the risk of Parkinson's suggests that oxidative stress may, indeed, be part of the process, she added.

Parkinson's disease causes tremors, muscle rigidity and movement problems. The underlying cause is the slow loss of neurons that produce dopamine, which is involved in movement. Treatment with levodopa, a precursor of dopamine that the brain can use to produce the brain chemical, can alleviate Parkinson's symptoms. However, levodopa does not slow the progression of the disease.

SOURCE: Neurology 2003;60:1761-1766.

Editor's Comment:
We have purposely left iron out of out MultiSmart™ formula.

Excess iron in your body also puts you at higher risk for cancer, heart disease and accelerated aging. Unlike anti-oxidants, such as vitamin C and E, that removes dangerous cell-damaging free radicals... in contrast, iron is an oxidant that enhances the production of free radicals

Iron is unique among essential minerals, because there is no mechanism for its excretion once absorbed into the body. When iron is absorbed, it must either be used by the body or it gets stored as excess in the body, which then promotes the generation of free radicals.

Supplementing with iron should be avoided unless you are absolutely convinced that you need it. There is a test that you can take to find out... it checks your serum ferritin level. You may want to ask your doctor about this test.

That's why there's no iron in our MultiSmart™



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