Iron an underrated factor in aging

Iron is essential for organismal growth and maintenance, so all life, from bacteria and algae to mammals, have developed the means to collect and store iron from their environments; this centrality of iron for all life suggests that iron may be involved in aging.

Most organisms, including humans, have no systematic means of ridding themselves of excess iron. A problem that organisms face in the use of iron in biological systems is protecting cells from iron damage. The very property of iron that makes it useful, its ability to accept or donate electrons, also gives it the ability to damage molecules and organelles via the Fenton reaction, in which iron reacts with hydrogen peroxide, leading to the formation of the highly reactive and toxic free radical, hydroxyl.

In theory, these storage proteins should be enough to protect organelles and macromolecules from iron’s reactivity, but in practice another process becomes perhaps more important, and that is iron dysregulation. Storage proteins such as ferritin can themselves be damaged, leading to «leakage» of free iron, which can then react with and damage cellular structures, which in turn can lead to organ damage and the deterioration associated with aging.

The Mangan Research Team concluded in their Aging-US Research Output, “iron satisfies many of the conditions we might look for in a universally pro-aging substance. It accumulates with age; it is associated with many age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease; it catalyzes the formation of cellular junk molecules and helps to prevent their turnover; removal of iron from plasma may be rejuvenating; and people with lower levels of body iron – blood donors – have a lower mortality rate.

Iron is intimately associated with aging, and control of body iron stores may be an important way to extend human lifespan.”

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Iron an underrated factor in aging

  1. Speaking of minerals and the body. I take 50 mg of zinc a day. It is supposed to help for prostate health.

    Liked by 1 person

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