What is iron

A mineral that the body uses for various functions including formation of hemoglobin to transport oxygen in the blood. Most people can get as much iron as their body needs from the foods they eat, although menstruating women with heavy flow can become iron-deficient (a condition called anemia). The body’s ability to extract iron, as well as other nutrients, from dietary sources diminishes with increasing age so physicians often advise older people to take an iron supplement, usually in the form of a multiple vitamin and mineral formula. However, iron supplements interfere with the absorption of levodopa, the most potent anti-PARKINSON MEDICATION.

Most people with Parkinson’s disease who are taking levodopa should not have iron supplements, either alone or in multiple mineral formulas. If iron supplementation is necessary, timing the levodopa and supplement dosages to be administered at the maximal number of hours apart reduces the level of interference. People taking levodopa also should not eat foods high in iron within several hours of taking a levodopa dose. Foods high in iron include green vegetables, red meat, fish (particularly canned tuna), shrimp, shellfish, and legumes (pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans). Many breads, cereals, and pastas are fortified with minerals including iron. A rare genetic disorder called aceruloplasminemia, in which the body cannot metabolize iron, causes a form of parkinsonism. In aceruloplasminemia, iron accumulates in the neurons of the basal ganglia, blocking their actions and causing impaired motor function.