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Supplementation May Help Iron Deficient Women Feel Less Fatigued

Many women suffer from low iron levels, which can range from slight deficiencies to full-on anemia. Low energy levels are a common sign of an iron deficiency, as your organs are not receiving enough oxygen from your red blood cells. A recent study suggests that even women who are not diagnosed with anemia report less fatigue when taking iron supplements.

One hundred ninety-eight French women between the ages of 18 and 53 participated in this study by Swiss researchers. After taking baseline iron, hemoglobin and red blood cell measurements, the researchers assigned 102 of the women an 80 mg iron supplement to be taken daily over the course of 12 weeks. The other 96 women were administered a placebo.

At the six week mark, the researchers took blood samples again and noted an improvement in iron blood markers in the supplement group. At the 12 week mark, they found similar results, but no notable improvement over the 6 week measurement.

In order to measure fatigue, the women completed self-rated questionnaires. At the conclusion of the study, the iron group reported an average 48 percent decrease in fatigue, while the placebo group reported a 29 percent reduction.

Notably, the iron supplementation did not have any effect on anxiety and depression scores, suggesting that mental health status did not contribute to the results found here.

The researchers were based at the University of Geneva. Their findings were published online ahead of print on July 9, 2012, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Because iron is essential for healthy blood, iron consumption affects everything from muscle function to brain function to regulation of body temperature. If you're looking to add more iron to your daily diet, try to eat more lean, low-fat red meats. If you're a vegetarian or just prefer not to consume too much meat, try legumes, lentils, soy beans, whole grains and green leafy vegetables as they are great dietary sources of iron.

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