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A new U.S. study has found that people who eat a diet rich in iron are more likely to live longer than those who don’t.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, were based on data from more than 1,000 adults in the U.K. who were followed for six years.
“We found that those who consumed more iron were more likely than those in the general population to maintain their glucose levels after diagnosis of diabetes,” said study co-author Dr. Thomas Kukulich, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“Iron is a powerful agent that protects against many diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
It’s also associated with many other benefits, including a lower risk of breast cancer, and even some cancer prevention.”
The study is one of the first to show that iron, in combination with other nutrients, is protective against the progression of type 2 diabetes.
Iron supplements were linked to a lower likelihood of developing the disease.
“Iron is an important nutrient in the human body, but not enough is known about the role it plays in the development of type 1 diabetes,” Kukullich said.
“This study shows us that this nutrient is critical to the prevention of type II diabetes, which is also a major cause of death in the United States.”
The researchers studied the health and well-being of 1,037 people who had been followed up for a total of three years.
They found that the people who ate a diet high in iron were 40 percent more likely at the end of six years to be diagnosed with type 2 disease and 60 percent more chance of having the disease when they had a second follow-up visit.
“If iron is good for us, why don’t we eat it all the time?” said Dr. Eric Kuklinski, a senior scientist at the American Diabetes Association.
“It’s a question that’s not being asked enough.”
The team’s findings are similar to previous research that suggested iron might be beneficial to people with type 1 and type 2.
“The more iron we consume, the less likely we are to develop type 2,” Kinkulich said in a statement.
“But the iron that’s really important is the extra iron that is produced when people are not eating iron.”
Iron is required for energy production and metabolism in most of the body.
But iron is also an important part of many of the cells in the body that can use iron to make new cells and to keep healthy.
“A high-level of iron may be critical for the development and maintenance of many important systems, including immune function, brain function, metabolism, and the ability to form and repair blood vessels,” Kunkulich added.
“The more we know about how these systems function, the better we can help them function better.”
In addition to Kukilinski, other authors of the study were Dr. John J. O’Sullivan, the Henry B. Simon Professor of Medicine at Harvard University, and Dr. Jonathan H. Wittenburg, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.