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Alzheimers

3 metals you don't know you're eating

Herbs and Supplements

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Iron in your supplements. Copper in your water. Aluminum in antacids. Metals make their way into our bodies in a variety of ways. That can be bad news, considering the growing number of studies linking high levels of them to Alzheimer's disease. 

As we age, our bodies don't always properly regulate and store certain metals, which can then end up in areas of the brain where they shouldn't be, says Dr. Ashley Bush, of the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia. Once in the body, they react with oxygen to produce free radicals that damage brain cells. 

Change your diet to include vitamin E and reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, as well as other ways to combat the disease.

Copper

High levels of this metal plus a high-fat diet were associated with mental declines equal to aging 19 years, according to one study. (A blood test can assess your levels.)

Buy smart:

• Try copper-free vitamins.

• If you have copper pipes, consider a reverse-osmosis water filter.

Iron

Alzheimer's risk may increase with high or low levels of this metal.

Buy smart:

• Consider an iron-free multi, unless you have a deficiency.

Overwhelmed by the supplement aisle? Here's how to find out the supplements you actually need—and what you don't.

Aluminum

High levels can speed mental decline.

Buy smart:

• Try a reverse-osmosis filter if your local water report shows aluminum.

• Avoid antacids that contain aluminum hydroxide.

Copper is a necessary nutrient but may be messing with your brain. Read on to find out what this research means for you.