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The Role of Iron in Memory: March 8, 2014

If you have anemia, your blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body.  When the brain is deprived it may affect your mental health.

“When there is anemia, the proper nutrition and proper food of the brain is not maintained which in the long run the capability of the brain decreases,” says Dr. Aboo Mannan, geriatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Older adults face a higher risk of anemia, and now researchers believe it could be sapping them of their memory.  Anemia affects as many as 23% of seniors.  Studies find it raises their risk of dementia by up to 60%.

A major cause of anemia is iron deficiency, which is a largely reversible condition. Addressing the issue early may help older adults keep a sound mind. Problem is, many of these people are weak when it comes to getting screened for anemia.

“In some cases we do not know, because usually they do not check their blood all the time. They are reluctant to go check their physical examination by their doctor. But whoever does it regularly we can pick up from them very early,” says Dr. Mannan.

Anemia, along with many conditions, including heart function, are linked to dementia. Treating them might ward off mental decline.

“If it is too late, then it is such an extent it cannot be reversed,” says Dr. Mannan.

In the case of anemia, eating foods high in iron helps prevent the most common form. Food for thought in keeping your brain strong.