Tag Archives: University of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh study: Blood iron levels could be key to slowing aging, gene study shows

25 Jul

Stephanie Watson wrote in the WebMD article which was reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on July 12, 2020, , What You Need to Know About Iron Supplements:

How Much Iron Do You Need?

How much iron you need each day depends on your age, gender, and overall health.

Infants and toddlers need more iron than adults, in general, because their bodies are growing so quickly. In childhood, boys and girls need the same amount of iron — 10 milligrams daily from ages 4 to 8, and 8 mg daily from ages 9 to 13.

Starting at adolescence, a woman’s daily iron needs increase. Women need more iron because they lose blood each month during their period. That’s why women from ages 19 to 50 need to get 18 mg of iron each day, while men the same age can get away with just 8 mg.

After menopause, a woman’s iron needs drop as her menstrual cycle ends. After a woman begins menopause, both men and women need the same amount of iron — 8 mg each day.

You might need more iron, either from dietary sources or from an iron supplement, if you:

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may also need to take an iron supplement, because the body doesn’t absorb the type of iron found in plants as well as it absorbs the iron from meat.

How Do You Know If You’re Iron Deficient?

“People often don’t know they have anemia until they have signs or symptoms — they appear pale or ‘sallow,’ are fatigued, or have difficulty exercising,” Chottiner says.

If you’re low in iron, you may also:

  • Feel short of breath
  • Have a fast heartbeat
  • Have cold hands and feet
  • Crave strange substances such as dirt or clay
  • Have brittle and spoon shaped nails or hair loss
  • Sores at the corner of the mouth
  • sore tongue
  • Severe iron deficiency can cause difficulty in swallowing

If you’re tired and dragging, see your doctor. “It’s fairly easy to detect and diagnose the different stages of iron deficiency with a simple blood test,” Thomas says. Women who are pregnant and people with a gastrointestinal disorder such as Crohn’sulcerative colitis, or celiac disease should have their iron tested on a regular basis.

Do You Need to Take an Iron Supplement?

If your iron is low, eating a diet that is high in iron-rich foods such as fortified cereals, red meat, dried fruit, and beans may not be enough to give you what you need. Your doctor might recommend that you take an iron supplement.

Prenatal vitamins usually include iron, but not all prenatal vitamins contain the recommended amount. Check with your doctor before taking any supplement.

While you are taking iron supplements, your doctor should test your blood to see if your iron levels have improved.

Can Iron Supplements Cause Side Effects?

Iron supplements can cause side effects, usually stomach upset such as nauseavomitingdiarrhea, dark stools, or constipation. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to constipation. Adding extra fiber to your diet can help relieve this symptom. A stool softener may also make you feel better.

Starting with a low dose of iron and then gradually increasing the dose to the daily recommended amount may help minimize side effects. If your iron supplements are bothering your stomach, your doctor can adjust the dose or form of iron you use. You can also try taking the supplements with food.

Can You Take Too Much Iron?

Unlike some supplements, when the subject is iron, more is definitely not better. Adults shouldn’t take any more than 45 mg of iron a day unless they are being treated with iron under close medical supervision.

For children, iron overdose can be especially toxic. “Iron supplements have killed young children because their needs for iron compared to an adult’s are relatively low,” Thomas says. If you take iron supplements, it is very important to keep them in a high, locked cabinet, far out of your children’s reach. Symptoms of iron poisoning include severe vomiting, diarrheaabdominal paindehydration, and bloody stool in children.

It’s difficult for adults to overdose on iron just from food and supplements, because an adult body has systems in place to regulate the amount of iron it absorbs. However, people with the inherited condition hemochromatosis have trouble regulating their iron absorption.

Although most people only absorb about 10% of the iron they consume, people with hemochromatosis absorb up to 30%. As a result, the iron in their body can build up to dangerous levels. That excess iron can deposit in organs such as the liverheart, and pancreas, which can lead to conditions like cirrhosisheart failure, and diabetes. For that reason, people with hemochromatosis should not take iron supplements.                      webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/features/iron-supplements#1

Resources:

Too Much Iron in Your Blood?                                                                                                    https://www.webmd.com/men/features/too-much-iron-in-your-blood#1

Iron-rich Foods and Anemia                                                                                                             https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14621-iron-rich-foods-and-anemia

Hemochromatosis                                                                                                                       https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hemochromatosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351443

Mayo Clinic Family Health Book

The ultimate home medical resource — completely revised and updated!                              https://order.store.mayoclinic.com/books/gnweb43?utm_source=MC-DotOrg-PS&utm_medium=Link&utm_campaign=FamilyHealth-Book&utm_content=FHB

Science Daily reported in Blood iron levels could be key to slowing aging, gene study shows

Genes linked to ageing that could help explain why some people age at different rates to others have been identified by scientists.

The international study using genetic data from more than a million people suggests that maintaining healthy levels of iron in the blood could be a key to ageing better and living longer.

The findings could accelerate the development of drugs to reduce age-related diseases, extend healthy years of life and increase the chances of living to old age free of disease, the researchers say.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany focused on three measures linked to biological ageing — lifespan, years of life lived free of disease (healthspan), and being extremely long-lived (longevity).

Biological ageing — the rate at which our bodies decline over time — varies between people and drives the world’s most fatal diseases, including heart disease, dementia and cancers.

The researchers pooled information from three public datasets to enable an analysis in unprecedented detail. The combined dataset was equivalent to studying 1.75 million lifespans or more than 60,000 extremely long-lived people.

The team pinpointed ten regions of the genome linked to long lifespan, healthspan and longevity. They also found that gene sets linked to iron were overrepresented in their analysis of all three measures of ageing.

The researchers confirmed this using a statistical method — known as Mendelian randomisation — that suggested that genes involved in metabolising iron in the blood are partly responsible for a healthy long life.

Blood iron is affected by diet and abnormally high or low levels are linked to age-related conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, liver disease and a decline in the body’s ability to fight infection in older age.

The researchers say that designing a drug that could mimic the influence of genetic variation on iron metabolism could be a future step to overcome some of the effects of ageing, but caution that more work is required.

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Anonymised datasets linking genetic variation to healthspan, lifespan, and longevity were downloaded from the publically available Zenodo, Edinburgh DataShare and Longevity Genomics servers.

Dr Paul Timmers from the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We are very excited by these findings as they strongly suggest that high levels of iron in the blood reduces our healthy years of life, and keeping these levels in check could prevent age-related damage. We speculate that our findings on iron metabolism might also start to explain why very high levels of iron-rich red meat in the diet has been linked to age-related conditions such as heart disease….”                                                                                                                  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200716101548.htm

Citation:

Blood iron levels could be key to slowing aging, gene study shows

Date:      July 16, 2020

Source:   University of Edinburgh

Summary:

Genes linked to aging that could help explain why some people age at different rates to others have been identified by scientists.

Journal Reference:

Paul R. H. J. Timmers, James F. Wilson, Peter K. Joshi, Joris Deelen. Multivariate genomic scan implicates novel loci and haem metabolism in human ageingNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17312-3

Here is the press release from the University of Edinburgh:

Blood iron levels could be key to slowing ageing

Genes that could help explain why some people age at different rates to others have been identified by scientists.

The international study using genetic data from more than a million people suggests that maintaining healthy levels of iron in the blood could be a key to ageing better and living longer.

The findings could accelerate the development of drugs to reduce age-related diseases, extend healthy years of life and increase the chances of living to old age free of disease, the researchers say.

Biological ageing

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany focused on three measures linked to biological ageing – lifespan, years of life lived free of disease (healthspan), and being extremely long–lived (longevity).

Biological ageing – the rate at which our bodies decline over time – varies between people and drives the world’s most fatal diseases, including heart disease, dementia and cancers.

Data analysis

The researchers pooled information from three public datasets to enable an analysis in unprecedented detail. The combined dataset was equivalent to studying 1.75 million lifespans or more than 60,000 extremely long-lived people.

The team pinpointed ten regions of the genome linked to long lifespan, healthspan and longevity. They also found that gene sets linked to iron were overrepresented in their analysis of all three measures of ageing.

Iron’s role

The researchers confirmed this using a statistical method – known as Mendelian randomisation – that suggested that genes involved in metabolising iron in the blood are partly responsible for a healthy long life.

Blood iron is affected by diet and abnormally high or low levels are linked to age-related conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, liver disease and a decline in the body’s ability to fight infection in older age.

The researchers say that designing a drug that could mimic the influence of genetic variation on iron metabolism could be a future step to overcome some of the effects of ageing, but caution that more work is required.

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Anonymised datasets linking genetic variation to healthspan, lifespan, and longevity were downloaded from the publicly available Zenodo, Edinburgh DataShare and Longevity Genomics servers.

We are very excited by these findings as they strongly suggest that high levels of iron in the blood reduces our healthy years of life, and keeping these levels in check could prevent age-related damage. We speculate that our findings on iron metabolism might also start to explain why very high levels of iron-rich red meat in the diet has been linked to age-related conditions such as heart disease.

Dr Paul TimmersUsher Institute, University of Edinburgh

Our ultimate aim is to discover how ageing is regulated and find ways to increase health during ageing. The ten regions of the genome we have discovered that are linked to lifespan, healthspan and longevity are all exciting candidates for further studies.

Dr Joris DeelenMax Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing

Realted links

Journal article in Nature Communications

Usher Insitute

Daniel Pendick, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Men’s Health Watch wrote in A healthy diet is the key to getting the iron you need:

Keeping the reservoir full

Most of us get the iron we need from food. Proponents of the Paleo or “cave man” diet should be cheered to know that red meat, poultry, and fish contain the most easily absorbed form of dietary iron—called heme iron. This is iron attached to the hemoglobin protein. The body absorbs heme iron more easily than the iron found in plants.

“In the typical American diet, the main sources of iron tend to be animal products,” Sesso says. “Typical meat consumption in the United States is usually more than adequate to meet one’s iron requirements.”

In plant foods, iron is not attached to such a protein. The body doesn’t absorb non-heme iron from fruits, vegetables, beans, and other plant foods as easily as it absorbs heme iron. That means those who eat little or no meat must take in more iron from leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, mushrooms, and other iron-rich plant foods. They also need to get enough vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron from food.

The USDA recommends that women between the ages of 19 and 50 get 18 mg of iron a day, while women ages 51 and older and men 19 years and beyond need 8 mg a day. Moderate amounts of meat plus fruits and vegetables can provide that amount, helped along by the many foods fortified with iron and other vitamins and minerals, like milk, flour, and breakfast cereals. And half of all Americans get some iron from a daily multivitamin.

One caution about iron: If you don’ think you are getting enough iron, or feel pooped out and assume it’s your “tired blood,” you may be tempted to pop an iron supplement as insurance. But beware. The body does not excrete iron rapidly. That means it can build up over time and, in some people, becomes toxic. The genetic disorder hemochromatosis causes iron to build up in organs, causing heart failure and diabetes.

So don’t just prescribe yourself an iron supplement on a whim; ask your doctor if you need it.

Good sources of iron

Food Portion Iron content (milligrams)
Fortified cold breakfast cereal 3 ounces 30 to 60
Spirulina seaweed 3 ounces 28
Oysters 3 ounces 9
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 9
Cream of Wheat 1 serving 9
Pumpkin seeds 3 ounces 8
Spinach, boiled and drained 1 cup 7
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 7
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 5
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 4
Beef, ground 4 ounces 3
Turkey, ground 4 ounces 3
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/healthy-diet-key-getting-iron-need-201502127710

Resources:

Iron-Rich Foods                                                                                                                            https://www.webmd.com/diet/iron-rich-foods#1

21 Foods that are High in Iron and Why You Need Them                                                              https://stayhealthy.fit/21-foods-that-are-high-in-iron-and-why-you-need-them/?utm_source=%2Biron%20%2Bdiet&utm_medium=21FoodsthatareHighinIronandWhyYouNeedThem&utm_campaign=adw_us

BEFORE BEGINNING ANY PROGRAM OF DIET, EXERCISE OR NUTRITION SUPPLEMENT CONSULT A COMPETANT MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL

 

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