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Iron may be the answer for young women who have trouble concentrating. A Pennsylvania State University study found that women who were iron-deficient performed poorly on memory and attention tests, compared with healthy women. Once the iron-deficient women added an iron supplement to their diet, the problem was reversed. Physicians have known for a while that anemia brought on by iron deficiency can cause fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. The results of the current study indicated that women aged 18 to 35 suffer many of the same effects from iron deficiency.
During the study, the women were given several computerized tests to measure attention and memory. The researchers found that women who were anemic were both slower and less accurate, compared with healthy women. Nonanemic women who were iron-deficient finished the tests as fast as healthy women but were dramatically less accurate. Yet, women who did not do as well on the initial tests performed just as well as others after they increased their iron intake. (The findings were presented recently at the American Society of Nutritional Sciences conference.)