Background: Evidence shows that iron deficiency in adulthood may affect cognitive performance, possibly by disrupting neurotransmitter regulation or brain energymetabolism. Women of reproductive age (WRA) are among those who are most vulnerable to iron deficiency; however, they have been largely ignored in the literature relating iron status to cognition. Objective: Our aim was to determine the efficacy of iron-biofortified beans in improving cognition in WRA compared with control beans. Methods: A double-blind, randomized intervention study was conducted in 150 women aged 18-27 y with low iron status (ferritin < 20 μg/L). Women were randomly assigned to consume iron-biofortified beans (86.1 ppm iron) or control beans (50.1 ppm iron) daily for 18 wk. Iron status was assessed based on hemoglobin, ferritin, transferrin receptor, and body iron values and on cognitive performance on 5 computerized tasks at baseline and endline. Results: Groups did not differ on any variables at baseline. Per protocol analyses revealed that consumption of the biofortified beans resulted in a 17% larger improvement in the speed of spatial selective attention; a nearly 7-fold larger improvement in the speed, a 68% greater improvement in the efficiency, and a > 2-fold greater improvement in the specificity of memory retrieval; and a > 2-fold larger improvement in the speed and a > 3-fold larger improvement in the efficiency of memory search-all of which are relative to consumption of the control beans (P < 0.01 for all comparisons). Conclusions: Cognitive performance is sensitive to iron status, and consumption of iron-biofortified beans for 18 wk improved cognitive performance, especially the efficiency of search and the speed of retrieval on memory tasks, in young adult women. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01594359.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics