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Consumers over age 50 should curb iron and copper intake

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Copper and iron are essential nutrients, but scientists writing in the ACS Journal warn that steps should be taken to limit intake of both for consumers over age 50. Copper and iron that builds up in the body as we get older could contribute to a variety of age related diseases.

The scientists say most consumers are unaware of copper and iron toxicity, as are most physicians. The study authors also note that large populations are at risk for Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, and other age-related disorders from buildup of iron and copper in the body.

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In the report, George Brewer states, "This story of copper and iron toxicity, which I think is reaching the level of public health significance, is virtually unknown to the general medical community, to say nothing of complete unawareness of the public. It seems clear that large segments of the population are at risk for toxicities from free copper and free iron, and to me, it seems clear that preventive steps should begin now."

The author cites a study showing “that in the general population those in the highest fifth of copper intake, if they are also eating a relatively high fat diet, lose cognition at over three times the normal rate.”

To lower the chances of age related diseases, Brewer suggests against vitamins containing copper or iron for consumers over age 50. He also suggests avoiding water that comes through copper pipes, reducing meat intake and regularly donating blood to reduce iron levels. After age 50, copper and iron excess can lead to oxidative stress, contributing to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, vascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and possibly more. The study author says older consumers should take steps to avoid intake of each.


DOI: 10.1021/tx900338d