Iron supplementation has been shown in a clinical trial to reduce fatigue by 50% in iron-deficient women. This means that supplements are a proven aid in improving iron levels and a major symptom of iron deficiency.
The 198 women involved were all menstruating women between the ages of 18 and 50 who were low in iron, but who had not been diagnosed as anaemic. They all, however, suffered from fatigue and low levels of ferritin, the protein that iron binds to in the body.
After 12 weeks of supplementation, fatigue levels had improved by almost 50%. Within 6 weeks of supplementation, blood tests showed improved levels of both ferritin and haemoglobin.
The randomized double blind placebo controlled trial has been published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. "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.