Iron is an essential trace mineral required for a number of functions. Most notably, iron is involved in the transport of oxygen and the synthesis of neurotransmitters. These two functions suggest that a deficiency of iron could affect energy levels within the brain, and that iron deficiency may therefore have a significant effect on neurochemistry and mood. A number of studies have investigated the effects of dietary iron on mood and cognition in iron deficient subjects. In one study, iron deficient women were fed a high iron diet which provided 2.25 mg of absorbed iron per day (the recommended intake) in the form of meat, or a ferrous sulphate iron tablet providing 105 mg per day of iron. Following 12 weeks of treatment the diet and supplement group both showed significant improvements in cognition and mood compared to the placebo group, suggesting that the higher iron intake had a beneficial effect on brain physiology. Other benefits such as a reduction in fatigue were also seen in the iron groups.
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