The brainpower of young women who are lacking in iron can be markedly boosted by taking supplements of the mineral, suggests a new study.

Even women who were just modestly iron deficient did much worse on attention, memory and learning tests than those with enough iron in their blood, found the study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University in the US.

“The iron deficient women took longer to do tasks and were less successful,” says John Beard, one of the team. For those classified as anemic the difference was particularly stark, he says: “The number of errors in a memory task was double than in the iron sufficient group.” But giving these women daily supplements of iron for four months reversed this effect.

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