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Excess iron is linked to certain brain diseases

Narrator:       This is Science Today. While iron is necessary in the human body for proper cell function, too much of it is associated with brain diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Because of this, people may want to take extra precautions when considering taking iron supplements.

Bartzokis:      Iron, in my opinion, should be something that is taken as a prescription from a doctor because really, in the Western world where we have iron fortifications in some foods and we eat meat on a regular basis, it's very hard to become anemic, even if you're a woman. So the vast majority of people don't need to supplement with any metals at all.

Narrator:       UCLA psychiatrist George Bartzokis led a study which suggested that reducing excess iron levels may lower age-related brain disease risk.

Bartzokis:      The fact that they're freely available as supplements is actually a problem because people think a little bit is good, more is better. And in the long run, it may actually do them harm because in certain organs of the body, including the brain, you keep accumulating it and it's not necessarily a good thing.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.