Annual Report FY 2004 - Research at Cornell

11. Taking Iron Supplements

Jere Haas, Nutritional Sciences, and doctoral student Thomas Brownlie found that among non-anemic women, iron supplements help only those with tissue-iron deficiencies. The study is the first to show differences between the physical abilities of non-anemic women with low liver versus low tissue iron and to demonstrate that low iron without anemia does have functional consequences in humans. About 10 to 12 percent of U.S. women and 40 to 80 percent of women in developing countries are iron deficient but not anemic; most, however, are unaware of their condition. The researchers have shown in previous studies that even mild iron deficiency reduces endurance, the capacity for physical work, and exercise performance and that iron supplementation improves exercise training. This new study provides more evidence that mild to moderate iron depletion should be of greater concern.

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