Swiss researchers suggest that taking iron supplements is likely to help some women cope with fatigue, even if they have not been medically adjudged anaemic.
The study which was conducted on 198 women showed iron pills may also help those with moderately low iron levels too. The researchers observed reproductive age women, between 18 and 53, as menstruation is known to lower iron levels.
Around half of the subjects were given 80 mg oral iron tablets every day, while the other half were given sugar pills. Medical “fatigue scores” were recorded before treatment and after 12 weeks of taking the medication.
“We found that iron supplementation for 12 weeks decreased fatigue scores by 50%. Iron deficiency may be an under-recognised cause of fatigue in women of child-bearing age. For women with unexplained, prolonged fatigue, iron deficiency should be considered”, Dr Bernard Favrat from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, said.
Researchers say that the most common form of anaemia is caused by severe shortage of iron resulting in laziness, weakness and giddiness.
However, too much intake of iron supplements could result in major organ failure according to Rick Miller, a spokesman for the British Dietetic Association. He said that fatigue cannot have one root cause, it can have multiple causes.
He added that factors such as diet, exercise and sleep patterns played an important role in understanding fatigue. However, he said the study has some validity but other factors such as those mentioned above need to be taken into consideration.