Feeling tired and fatigued during the day, no matter how much sleep you get at night? It could be that you have an iron deficiency. New research has found iron supplements reduce fatigue by almost 50 percent in women who are low in iron but not anemic.
The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests the condition may be more common than previously believed in many women, who would benefit from iron supplementation.
"We found that iron supplementation for 12 weeks decreased fatigue by almost 50 percent… in menstruating iron-deficient nonanemic women with unexplained fatigue,” said researcher Dr. Bernard Favrat, with the Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
The study involved 198 menstruating women between the ages of 18 and 50 years. Some of the women took 80 milligrams of prolonged-release ferrous sulfate a day; others were given an inactive placebo. The trial was double-blinded, meaning neither the participants nor the health care providers knew which group was receiving the supplement versus placebo.
When researchers compared the groups, they found the women taking the iron pills said their symptoms of fatigue were virtually cut in half after three months, compared to those getting a placebo.
Studies estimate at least 14-27 percent of Americans suffer from fatigue, with women three times more likely than men to report the condition.
"Iron deficiency may be an under-recognized cause of fatigue in women of child-bearing age," said the researchers. "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."