Iron supplements can reduce fatigue in nonanemic women

July 9, 2012

Iron supplementation reduced fatigue by almost 50% in women who are low in iron but not anemic, according to the results of a clinical trial published July 9 in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

"We found that supplementation for 12 weeks decreased by almost 50% from baseline, a significant difference of 19% compared with placebo, in menstruating iron-deficient nonanemic women with unexplained fatigue and ferritin levels below 50 μg/L," writes Dr. Bernard Favrat, Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, with coauthors.

The study, a randomized controlled trial involving 198 menstruating women between the ages of 18 and 50 years, included daily oral supplements of 80 mg of prolonged-release ferrous sulfate as well as placebo. The trial was double-blinded, meaning neither the participants nor the health care providers knew which group was receiving the supplement versus .

Fatigue is common in patients in primary care practices, with 14% to 27% suffering from fatigue and 1% to 2% of visits specifically for fatigue. Women are three times more likely than men to report fatigue. Positive effects on hemoglobin, ferritin and other blood levels were evident as early as six weeks after iron supplementation.

The authors note that iron did not affect anxiety or depression scores or quality-of-life indicators such as physical and psychological performance.

"Iron deficiency may be an under-recognized cause of fatigue in women of child-bearing age," write the authors. "If fatigue is not due to secondary causes, the identification of iron deficiency as a potential cause may prevent inappropriate attribution of symptoms to putative emotional causes or life stressors, thereby reducing the unnecessary use of health care resources, including inappropriate pharmacologic treatments," conclude the authors.

More information: www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.11950

Related Stories

Low iron levels slow down female athletes

November 21, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Female athletes with low levels of iron in their bodies, yet who are not anemic, may be at a disadvantage even before their competitive season starts, according to a new Cornell study. These athletes could ...

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.