A key mineral for your health is iron, but it is one often overlooked. Iron can act as the hidden cause of symptoms, and this story is about one of those symptoms. Is not having adequate iron intake causing you fatigue?
This health breakthrough comes courtesy of the “Canadian Medical Association Journal.” In that publication, researchers showed that iron supplements reduced fatigue by almost 50% in women who are low in iron — but who are not anemic. (Anemia is a medical condition where a reduced level of red blood cells is causing a lack of oxygen to reach cells.)
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In the new study, researchers found that iron supplements for 12 weeks decreased fatigue by almost 50%. This is significantly further than the 19% caused by placebo. It was a study of 198 menstruating women who were iron-deficient and had unexplained fatigue. They were between 18 and 50 years of age. The study included daily oral supplements of 80 milligrams (mg) of prolonged-release
ferrous sulfate (a form of iron) and placebo. The trial was double-blind, meaning neither the participants nor the health-care providers knew which group was receiving the supplement versus placebo. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study is among the highest degrees of quality for any study.
Fatigue is a very common complaint heard in doctors’ offices across the country. Anywhere from 14% to 27% of patients suffer fatigue, and about two percent of all doctor appointments are made specifically for fatigue. Women are three times more likely than men to report fatigue.
Researchers say that as quickly as six weeks after the patients took iron supplements, there were positive effects on hemoglobin, ferritin and other blood levels. Iron did not affect anxiety or depression scores or quality-of-life indicators such as physical and psychological performance.
What this helps bring out of the shadows is the fact that iron deficiency may be an under-recognized cause of fatigue, especially in women. And obviously uncovering the true cause of a symptom is paramount in fixing that symptom. If you have fatigue that is not explained by your lifestyle or sleeping issues, then it might be a wise idea to speak to your doctor about testing iron levels. From there you can work on keeping a diet higher in foods rich in iron, and consider taking a daily supplement.