Oxygen and Anemia

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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Edison

Two of the world's largest drug companies are paying hundreds of millions of dollars to doctors every year in return for giving their patients anemia medicines, which regulators now say may be unsafe at commonly used doses.

DMG (Dimethylglycine) makes cellular respiration more efficient thereby improving oxygen utilization.

 

June 21, 2006  

Dear Reader,

Your iron intake could have a profound effect on your head - both above the scalp and below.

When Cleveland Clinic researchers reviewed four decades of research and case studies that examined the association between hair loss and iron deficiency, they found a strong link between low levels of the mineral and several of the most common types of hair loss.

Although it's not a health issue, hair loss is an important personal concern for many men and women. But iron deficiency may have a far more dangerous effect on the gray matter directly below the hairline.

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Testing levels
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By some estimates, more than two billion people suffer from iron deficiency, and many are not even aware of it. What's worse, according to a Pennsylvania State University study, is that even mild iron deficiency may be enough to impair cognitive function.

The Penn State researchers recruited 113 women aged 18 to 35 who took a round of cognitive ability tests at the outset of the study. Blood samples separated the women into three categories: 30 were iron sufficient, 53 were iron deficient, and 30 were iron deficient anemic.

In the initial tests, women who were iron deficient (but not anemic) scored significantly worse than women who were iron sufficient. Women with anemia also scored worse, but took longer to complete the tests. In general, the worse the anemia, the longer they took.

In the four months following the first tests, the women were randomly selected to receive either a 60 mg iron supplement daily, or a placebo. At the end of this period, the subjects took another round of tests. On average, the women who took the supplements (regardless of their previous iron status) scored just as well on the tests, and just as quickly, as the women who were iron sufficient at the outset of the study.

Writing in the journal Cell, the authors of the study conclude, "iron status is related to information processing in adult women."

Simple, right? Keep that iron level high, and you may help keep cognitive abilities sharp. But there's something potentially wrong with this picture.

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Just add Iron?
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The problem with the Penn State research is also the key to its success: iron supplements. These supplements may have done wonders in the short run, but as an ongoing therapy, iron supplementation has several pitfalls.

As long-time e-Alert readers know, HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., is an advocate of vitamin dosages well above the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for most supplements. But not for iron, which can create problems in high doses. Dr. Spreen says, "The RDA of iron is far too high. Plus, even if you were proven to have anemia, I wouldn't treat it with inorganic iron. The mineral is too reactive in the body when it is not insulated from the system by being encased within the heme structure of hemoglobin. Free radical formation from free iron is just too much of a threat."

Dietary sources of heme iron come exclusively from red meat, fish, pork, and poultry, with beef liver and chicken liver having the highest amounts of iron. An additional intake of vitamin C can also help the body absorb iron.

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Where does it go?
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The two primary causes of anemia are iron-poor blood (often triggered by menstruation or internal bleeding), and a deficiency in two critical vitamins: folic acid and vitamin B-12. Getting good amounts of these nutrients is especially important for seniors because as we age our ability to absorb vitamins from food diminishes. Consequently, our tendency to develop anemia rises.

Unfortunately, many mainstream doctors see so many elderly patients who have anemia that the condition is widely regarded as a normal part of aging. As a result, when anemia is diagnosed it often goes untreated. This is a critical mistake because in recent years, research has shown that anemia dramatically increases the risk of early mortality for those with chronic health problems such as heart disease and cancer.

Anemia is easily diagnosed with a typical blood test, so ask your doctor to check your next blood test for a reading of your red cell blood count - especially if you're feeling unusually fatigued. If you do have an anemic condition, the next step is to find out the cause. But if your doctor downplays anemia's importance, or if he recommends a prescription drug, seek a second opinion from a doctor who's knowledgeable about the nutritional problems that can cause an anemic condition.


...and another thing

An HSI member named Deborah writes: "Olive oil gives me stomach aches, so I use canola oil. I read your article about how heating the oil changes it to a dangerous oil. My question is: Is organic, expeller pressed canola oil also dangerous?"

Dr. Spreen will field this one: "I'm not really sure what the significance of 'organic' means when referring to canola, since the oil is processed and treated to get past the overt toxicity problems inherent in the oil of the rapeseed plant (which is all canola oil is, of course). Handling the rapeseed plant in an organic manner is certainly superior to conventional methods, but that's not the answer, in my opinion, to the problems associated with canola oil.

"Then you have one more problem: the definition of 'organic' is now being watered down by federal regulations so that large companies can cash in on having the 'organic' label on their products, while not having to adhere to the strictest definitions. If the 'organic' labeling (and the label will probably brag about it) does not state that it's in accordance with California organic standards (or something similar) be cautious.

"My oils of choice, if melted butter is unacceptable, would be coconut oil and palm kernel oil, now much harder to acquire due to the hype and fad concerning saturated oils. I'd also consider lard, which strikes fear into the hearts of so many well-propagandized cooks today (bet THAT opens up a can of worms!). Lard, butter, and the aforementioned oils do not go rancid with heat, which is an attribute of saturated fats. Then, heating is no big deal, as you only have a rancidity problem when heating (and exposing to air) the polyunsaturated oils."

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson

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Tap into the minds of other health-conscious readers like yourself at the new HSI health forum: http://www.healthiertalk.com

Sources:

"Coordinated Remodeling of Cellular Metabolism During Iron Deficiency Through Targeted mRNA Degradation" Cell, Vol. 120, No. 1, 1/14/05, cell.com
"Iron Status Alters Cognitive Functioning in Women During Reproductive Years" Experimental Biology 2004, Abstract #3128, April 2004, select.biosis.org
"In What Extent Anemia Coexists with Cognitive Impairment in Elderly: A Cross-Sectional Study in Greece" BioMed Central Family Practice, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2001, pubmedcentral.nih.gov

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