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Iron supplements can reduce fatigue in non-anaemic women

Published on 11/07/2012

Taking iron tablets can significantly reduce tiredness even if you are not anaemic, according to a new study.

Iron is an essential mineral that has several important roles in the body, including helping to make red blood cells which carry oxygen. You should be able to get all the iron you need from your daily diet, from sources like meat and dark green leafy vegetables.

Watercress is a good dietary source of iron

Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, a condition where there are fewer red blood cells in the body than normal. Fatigue and shortness of breath are common symptoms of iron-deficient anaemia.

But a new study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, shows by taking iron tablets you could reduce your levels of fatigue by up to 50 per cent even if you are not anaemic.

Researchers carried out randomly controlled trials on 198 menstruating women between the ages of 18 and 50 years. All the women were iron deficient but not anaemic, with unexplained fatigue and ferritin levels below 50g/L. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron and controls its release into the body.

The trial was double blinded, meaning that neither the participants nor the healthcare providers knew which group was receiving the placebo or the iron supplement.

They found that taking iron supplements for 12 weeks decreased fatigue by almost 50 a per cent, a difference of 19 per cent compared with the placebo. Iron supplements also had positive effects on levels of haemoglobin and ferritin after just six weeks. Dr Bernard Favrat, of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, said:

“Iron deficiency may be an under-recognised cause of fatigue in women of child-bearing age.”

However, experts warn that patients- with or without health insurance- suspecting iron deficiency should always visit their GP before self-medicating with iron supplements.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Health
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