Young women who took iron significantly improved their attention, short-term and long-term memory, and their performance on cognitive tasks, even though many were not considered anemic when the study began, according to researchers at Penn State University. The study was the first to examine the impact of iron supplementation on cognitive functioning in women aged 18 to 35 (average age 21). Dr Laura Murray-Kolb says the study shows that even modest levels of iron deficiency have a negative impact on cognitive functioning in young women. She says the study also demonstrates how taking iron can reverse this impact in this age group.
At the beginning of the study, those who were low in iron did worse on mental tests than those with sufficient iron, while anemic women did worse and took longer. However, supplementation markedly improved cognition scores (memory, attention and learning tasks) and task completion time. This finding has great implications, says Dr Murray-Kolb, because the prevalence of iron deficiency is up to 11% for women of reproductive age and 25% for pregnant women.
Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Apr 19, 2004