We know that iron and zinc are important to nutrition and to everyone’s brain development, especially children. Iron deficiency causes not only malnutrition and anemia, but it may contribute to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or hinder brain development and child growth. Unfortunately children in developing nations are at particularly high risk of not getting iron and zinc in their diets.
So it makes sense that taking a supplement beginning at young age in such countries might improve cognitive development. We wish research was always that simple! In the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a recent study looked at 560 nine-year-olds in Thailand randomly assigned at birth to receive supplements. Some children got supplements with iron and zinc, and some of them just got a sugar pill. The researchers followed the children over 9 years to find out if the children who were given supplements did better with IQ, memory, attention and school performance.
While the study showed that there really wasn’t a difference in outcomes at age nine, maybe a caveat exists: children in the study only received the supplements for six months early on in infancy, and most of the kids were not iron deficient.
The jury may still be out on the benefits of routine infant supplements, but make no mistake, the jury is certainly clear that if you or your child is iron deficient, then it is absolutely necessary to take action. Zinc is especially important in many developing countries because it can help prevent diarrhea, which is often a major problem.
In order to find out your iron levels, you may need to get tested.
To find out the recommended intake for iron, what foods to eat, and much more about the importance of iron, go to: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/iron
For more information on what an iron test is and why it is important to get tested, go to: http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/iron-tests