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  1. In military personnel with low iron stores as well as anemia, is there an impairment of military readiness that is gender specific?
  2. Are there additional analyses that should be conducted with the data in Friedl et al. (1990), Klicka et al. (1993), Westphal et al. (1995), or Westphal et al. (draft manuscript, 1995) on iron status issues in women in BCT? For future studies, are there additional specific analyses that should be considered?
  3. What are the CMNR recommendations regarding the proposed intervention study?
  4. Emphasis of the meeting on November 13, 1995 was on data collected during BCT, should there be additional research with military women dealing with iron status in military women in general?

To assist the CMNR in developing responses to these questions, John L. Beard, Department of Nutrition, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and Sean Lynch, Hematology and Oncology, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Hampton, Virginia, served as special consultants, who participated in the meeting and the initial discussion with the committee regarding this report. The report was drafted by the CMNR in executive session on the day following the meeting and was delivered to the sponsor in December 1995. It is a thoughtfully developed presentation incorporating the scientific opinion of the CMNR and the comments of the anonymous peer review panel of the National Research Council.

Conclusions

It is the view of the CMNR that iron status is an important issue for military women. From the preliminary data presented at this meeting, the potential for some compromise in physical performance has been demonstrated with low iron stores. Of equal military concern are the possible effects on cognitive performance that may result from impaired iron nutrition. Therefore, additional research should be conducted on the most susceptible groups of military women. It is important to determine whether the compromised iron status observed in women in BCT affects performance; therefore, initial studies should emphasize this issue, using an iron supplement that has the greatest potential for preventing or correcting decrements in iron status with appropriate nutrition counseling stressing the importance of taking such supplements, to help assure compliance with the study design. Following this determination, it then will be important to determine whether appropriate nutrition education methods can achieve similar results.

Since the stresses of military training are an approximation of the anticipated stresses of actual combat, it is important to collect and evaluate broadly all pertinent information from women involved in rigorous, physically stressful military training.



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