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Iron Supplements for Unexplained Fatigue

A new study suggests a daily iron supplement may be indicated for women who have unexplained fatigue, yet whose blood tests for iron-deficiency anemia may look normal. 

Although the women in the study didn't have anemia, they did have borderline levels of ferritin (the protein that stores iron in the body).

For the study, a daily dose of 80 milligrams of iron (as iron sulfate) or placebo was administered to almost 200 women for 12 weeks. This treatment was associated with a 48% decrease in fatigue scores (compared to a decrease of 29% in the placebo group). It also increased haemoglobin levels and ferritin levels.

That's quite a high dose of iron considering these women didn't have outright anemia. However, what this suggests is that we should consider revising our definition of iron-deficiency to place more emphasis on ferritin. Especially since iron deficiency (in various parts of the body, like the brain)--as this study demonstrated--can present without anemia (which is an iron deficiency in the blood).

Source: Effect of iron supplementation on fatigue in nonanemic menstruating women with low ferritin: a randomized controlled trial 

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