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Open AccessArticle

Improvements in Iron Status and Cognitive Function in Young Women Consuming Beef or Non-Beef Lunches

Dietetic Programs, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID 83209, USA
Nutrients 2014, 6(1), 90-110;
Received: 30 October 2013 / Revised: 14 December 2013 / Accepted: 17 December 2013 / Published: 27 December 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition and Neuroscience)
PDF [283 KB, uploaded 27 December 2013]


Iron status is associated with cognitive performance and intervention trials show that iron supplementation improves mental function in iron-deficient adults. However, no studies have tested the efficacy of naturally iron-rich food in this context. This investigation measured the hematologic and cognitive responses to moderate beef consumption in young women. Participants (n = 43; age 21.1 ± 0.4 years) were randomly assigned to a beef or non-beef protein lunch group [3-oz (85 g), 3 times weekly] for 16 weeks. Blood was sampled at baseline, and weeks 8 and 16, and cognitive performance was measured at baseline and week 16. Body iron increased in both lunch groups (p < 0.0001), with greater improvement demonstrated in women with lower baseline body iron (p < 0.0001). Body iron had significant beneficial effects on spatial working memory and planning speed (p < 0.05), and ferritin responders (n = 17) vs. non-responders (n = 26) showed significantly greater improvements in planning speed, spatial working memory strategy, and attention (p < 0.05). Lunch group had neither significant interactions with iron status nor consistent main effects on test performance. These findings support a relationship between iron status and cognition, but do not show a particular benefit of beef over non-beef protein consumption on either measure in young women. View Full-Text
Keywords: body iron; cognition; women; beef body iron; cognition; women; beef

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Blanton, C. Improvements in Iron Status and Cognitive Function in Young Women Consuming Beef or Non-Beef Lunches. Nutrients 2014, 6, 90-110.

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