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Extra iron found to raise energy levels of fatigued women

June 09, 2003|Dianne Partie Lange

Extra iron may help combat fatigue in women, even if they're not anemic, Swiss researchers have found.

In a study of women who complained of being chronically tired -- all of whom were healthy and had normal hemoglobin levels -- researchers found that many had low-normal concentrations of ferritin in their blood. (Ferritin is an iron-storage protein that indicates how much iron is stored in the body.)

The researchers randomly divided the 144 women, ranging in age from 18 to 55, into two groups. One group took iron supplements, the other a placebo. Both groups had improved energy after a month, but on a 10-point scale of fatigue, those who took iron improved an average of three points more than those taking the placebo.

This study indicates that not only is it important to check ferritin in people complaining of fatigue, but it also raises questions about what is a normal concentration, says Dr. Glenn D. Braunstein, chairman of the department of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The study was published in the May 24 issue of the British Medical Journal.

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-- Dianne Partie Lange

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