True or False: Iron Deficiency and Fatigue
Allison Bush | July 18, 2012
- 0 True
- 1 False
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A low iron level is the same thing as iron-deficiency anemia.
You can be iron deficient without going into the anemic stage, which is the last stage of iron deficiency, where the lack of iron in the blood limits the formation of hemoglobin causing red blood cells to become small and pale in color. At this point, blood tests will reveal iron deficiency anemia. Source: [The Atlantic](http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/07/iron-loss-explains-why-youre-tired-all-the-time/259616/)
Women typically get enough of their daily iron requirements from food.
Unfortunately, pre-menopausal women don't get enough iron because they're not compensating for the monthly blood loss that occurs with menstruation. Women of childbearing age need 18 milligrams of iron per day; however, the average woman only consumes 12 to 13 milligrams per day. **Source:** [CDC](http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/iron.html)
Women are more likely to report fatigue to their physician than men.
According to a recent study, women are three times more likely to report the problem to their physician than men. Source: [Canadian Medical Association Journal](http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.110950)
A ferritin level below 50 µg/L is low and may suggest iron deficiency.
Researchers suggest iron supplementation should be considered for women with unexplained fatigue who have ferritin levels below 50 µg/L. They found that fatigue was decreased by 50% in the women taking the iron supplement over a 12 week period. **Source:** [CMAJ](http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2012/07/09/cmaj.110950)
Pregnant women have a higher recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron.
Pregnant women require more iron intake for a number of reasons. First, the amount of blood in a woman's body increases during pregnancy until she has almost 50% more blood than usual, and iron is needed to make more hemoglobin; second, women are producing a baby, and that baby needs iron to grow (along with the placenta); and, third, many women are typically iron deficient at the onset of pregnancy, so many need to catchup to begin with. That said, pregnant women should strive for 27 mg of iron a day, and should try to eat foods rich in vitamin C to help with iron absorbtion. **Sources:** [Baby Center](http://www.babycenter.com/0_iron-in-your-pregnancy-diet_1468.bc) [CDC](http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/iron.html#How much)
Beef tops the list as a major source of iron.
Actually, shellfish like clams and oysters top the list, with canned clams at 23.8 mg of iron per 3 oz serving. Organ meats, like liver and giblets, are better sources of iron than ground chuck beef. **Source:** [CDC](http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/iron.html#How much)