My Hormonology

Wish there was an easy way to get better grades at school? Come up with more brilliant ideas at work? Or learn new information faster?

There is–it’s this combo:

  1. Get moving more, for instance, take brisk walks, hop on a bike or dance.
  2. Eat more foods that contain iron, such as beans, lentils, spinach, tofu, fortified cereal and beef.

Exericse + iron = better brain

A new study in the Journal of Nutrition found that college-aged women who were regularly active and got the recommended 18 mg. of iron daily earned higher grades than female students who were sedentary and low in iron.

Why?

Exercise supports brain health by improving circulation, which sends nourishing blood to brain cells.

And, iron enriches blood with energizing oxygen–so when you get enough of this essential mineral, it wakes up the brain, boosting energy and focus. Get too little and you can suffer fatigue and mental fogginess.

In fact, this 2007 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who were low in iron experienced a dramatic five to seven-fold improvement in memory, accuracy, mental speed and other brain functions after replenishing their irons stores with supplements.

The menstruation-iron connection

The results of this study are important for women with menstrual cycles since blood loss during menstruation typically reduces iron levels.

This is especially true with women who have heavy bleeding, since they’re more prone to anemia (iron deficiency) due to greater blood loss.

The right amount of iron

If you’re not able to get 18 mg. of iron daily from your diet, ask your doctor if you can take an iron supplement. Research shows it’s a safe and effective way to reverse iron loss due to menstruation.

Just be sure not to go overboard. Too much iron has been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. And, some people are born with an inability to shed excess iron (hemochromatosis), which can cause health complications.

Bonus to iron balancing

Once you get the right balance of iron in your body, not only will you find it easier to think, you’ll also find exercise feels easier to do–which will, in turn, help sharpen your brain skills even more.

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