A new study finds evidence that having anemia increases your risk for dementia.
As a part of healthy aging, we ought to care for our bodies as much as we care for our brain. There is a BIG connection between the two that we’re learning more about everyday.
Just this week I read some new research, which suggests that having anemia today might increase your risk for developing dementia in the future. The study is called the Health, Aging and Body Composition study and it followed 2,552 men and women in their 70s for 11 years. Over this time, researchers found that the people who had anemia were more than 40% likely to have dementia over that 11-years compared to people who did not have anemia1.
But how do we know that anemia is directly causing the dementia? After all, dementia has many causes and risk factors like genetics, obesity, drug abuse, etc. The truth is we don’t know for certain that anemia directly causes dementia. In the study, researchers did consider these other risk factors but still found anemia to be an “independent risk factor.” This means that even if anemia is your only risk factor for dementia you are more likely to get dementia than if you did not have anemia.
Anemia in older adults is pretty common and increases with age: someone who is 65-74 years old has an 8% of getting anemia but this quickly rises to 20% when they hit 852. Researchers acknowledge that it is not known if treating anemia will prevent dementia. But if you ask me, it certainly wouldn’t hurt!
It is safe to say that both you and I would rather not live with anemia or dementia. Just because we’re aging does not mean we should accept a lower quality of life. While some types of anemia cannot be prevented others can be.
Many types of nutrition-related anemias can be prevented eating a diet rich in iron, B12, folate and vitamin C. Here’s what you can add to your future shopping list3:
- o Meats like beef, pork and chicken (iron, B12)
- o Beans and lentils (iron, folate)
- o Breads and pastas (folate)
- o Milk and cheeses (B12)
- o Eggs (B12)
- o Oranges, lemons, grapefruits (folate, vitamin C)
- o Kale, collards, spinach and other dark leafy greens (folate, iron)
- o Melons and berries (Vitamin C)
- 1. http://www.alzinfo.org/03/articles/diagnosis-and-causes/anemia-tied-dementia-risk
- 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2572827/
- 3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anemia/basics/prevention/con-20026209