Our grandparents, and maybe even our parents, often heard of the value of “everything in moderation.” Do you know that adage? It is intended to help us moderate things that are bad for us; things like smoking (although we should eliminate this), alcohol consumption, and even how much we eat. Here’s an interesting spin . . . How often are we encouraged to consider the value of moderation in things that are considered healthy?
Health and wellness topics abound, and have only increased over the past 20 years as we have gained new insights into the benefits of healthy eating, supplementation, and exercise. Today, we can easily find tips and tricks for how to age better; how to live better. This is beneficial in some ways, but could also be somewhat hazardous in certain situations. For example, we are learning that an excessive amount of iron in the blood may be a predisposing factor for macular degeneration.
Looking at Research
There has been an increase in evidence that indicates a connection between iron levels and macular degeneration over the past several years. One laboratory study involving mice bred to accumulate iron in the retinal tissue found that retinal disease cases decreased when subjects were given medication that bound to iron, preventing excessiveness. Another study discovered a rapid onset of retinal disease after accidental introduction of iron into the eye. Further data has indicated an accumulation of iron in the retinas of macular degeneration patients, whether age-related or genetic. Subjects without macular degeneration, on the other hand, had normal iron levels.
Iron: How We May Get Too Much
One of the ways that iron can accumulate in the blood is through the consumption of red meat. Certain vegetables and legumes are said to be good sources of iron. However, research has shown that the body only absorbs about 10% of the iron from such sources. However, about 50% of the heme iron in red meat is absorbed. If a diet rich in red meat is accompanied by a multivitamin or other iron supplement, accumulation may reach excessive amounts.
The Bottom Line
Many aging adults worry about the potential for macular degeneration. Because there is no cure for this eye disease, it is necessary for us to explore steps for prevention. Diet has proven to be a mitigating factor we can manage. Routine eye exams are also valuable in better understanding eye health. Contact our Kihei or Wailuku office to schedule yours.