It has long been known that alcohol abuse often leads to significant cognitive decline – even dementia.
The puzzling question is, why?
Medical researchers in Austria have discovered a possible cause.
Iron deposits in the brains of heavy drinkers.
The cause of those deposits? According to the thesis, advanced by the Austrian team - a chronic deficiency in vitamin B-1 is often to blame.
Neurologists have known for some time that iron deposits in the brain can cause an assortment of neurological disorders. These deposits are often found in the brains of people who consume a lot of alcohol.
This research team believes it’s plausible that high alcohol consumption leads to increased levels of iron in the blood and meaningful deficiencies of vitamin B1 (thiamine). B-1 matters because it is vital to protecting the blood-brain barrier. That barrier is crucial to human health because it protects the brain from toxins, like heavy metals, or pathogens, while allowing vital nutrients to reach the brain.
If this thesis is borne out by more research, the finding may lead to new therapies that can protect heavy drinkers from brain damage and the associated cognitive decline so often seen in this cohort.
Long-term supplementation of vitamin B-1 is one such option.
There is also hope that drug therapies might be developed that can reduce iron levels in the blood of these individuals.
The Austrian research team is now planning a prospective clinical study to confirm their thesis on the link between alcohol abuse, vitamin B1 deficiency, and cerebral iron deposits. We will be tracking their progress.
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