Effects of diet on brain iron levels among healthy individuals: An MRI pilot study

Jesper Hagemeier, Olivia Tong, Michael G. Dwyer, Ferdinand Schweser, Murali Ramanathan, Robert Zivadinov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Increased brain iron levels may be a risk factor for age-related neurologic disorders. Little is known about factors other than age and sex potentially affecting brain iron concentration. We investigated dietary habits (iron and calcium supplements, dairy products, vegetables, and red meat) as a potential modifiable predictor of brain iron levels using 3-T susceptibility-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. One hundred ninety volunteers were scanned, and mean phase and mean phase of low-phase voxels were determined for deep gray-matter (DGM) structures, including the caudate, putamen, thalamus, pulvinar, hippocampus, amygdala, red nucleus, and substantia nigra. There was a trend for lower mean phase (suggestive of high iron levels) in individuals taking iron supplements (. p= 0.075). Among men, both increased dairy and vegetable intakes were significantly associated with lower DGM mean phase (. p < 0.05) and mean phase of low-phase voxels (. p < 0.05) in the thalamus, pulvinar, and red nucleus. In contrast, among women, iron levels were not associated with dairy consumption (. p > 0.05) in the DGM but were inversely associated with vegetable intake in the thalamus (p= 0.006). Brain iron levels appear to be modulated by diet, with effects being highly dependent on gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1678-1685
Number of pages8
JournalNeurobiology of aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain iron
  • Diet
  • Nutrition
  • Phase imaging
  • SWI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Medicine(all)


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