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  • 2012

Iron supplements may reduce unexplained fatigue in women

Published on

27 July 2012

According to a new study, daily iron supplementation should be considered for iron-deficient women with unexplained fatigue.

The randomized controlled trial included 198 non- anemic women aged 18–53 who had complained of fatigue and who had ferritin levels of less than 50 ug/L and hemoglobin levels greater than 12.0 g/dL. The women were assigned to receive either oral ferrous sulfate (80 mg of elemental iron daily) or a placebo for 12 weeks (1). The study results showed that iron supplementation was associated with a 48% decrease in fatigue scores compared to a 29% decrease in the placebo group. Hemoglobin and ferritin levels significantly increased in the group receiving supplements. No significant effects on quality of life, depression or anxiety were detected.

The researchers commented that iron deficiency may be an under-recognized cause of fatigue in women of child-bearing age. If fatigue is not due to secondary causes, the identification of iron deficiency as a potential cause may prevent inappropriate attribution of symptoms to supposed emotional causes or life stressors. Unnecessary use of health care resources, including inappropriate pharmacological treatments, may there-fore be avoided.


  1. Vaucher P. et al. Effect of iron supplementation on fatigue in nonanemic menstruating women with low ferritin: a andomized controlled trial. CMAJ. Published online July 2012.

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