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Women may need more iron

Doctors suggest women check iron levels before physical training.

Researchers in a study on iron supplementation in female soldiers during military training explained that low iron impairs mental and physical performance and noted that female soldiers lose iron during military training.

In an effort to maintain good iron levels, scientists gave 219 female soldiers 20 mg of iron per day or a placebo for eight weeks during basic training. Doctors found cellular signs that iron was decreasing in all participants during training, but the placebo group lost more iron than the iron group. Compared to placebo, those who took iron performed better in two-mile running tests and demonstrated better mood in mental exams.

Researchers concluded that trainers should suggest women check iron levels before beginning physical training and encourage those with low iron levels to take an iron supplement at the start. 

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