Women can suddenly feel tired and fatigued, a problem that can affect even the very young. But when they're checked for anaemia, their iron levels are fine.
Despite this, they would benefit from iron supplementation, new research suggests.
Researchers from Lausanne University, Switzerland tested 144 women, aged between 18 and 55 years, and gave them either 80 mg of oral ferrous sulphate a day or a placebo, even though nobody in either group was anaemic.
After four weeks, those given iron supplements had lower levels of fatigue than when they started compared with the placebo group.
Their findings mirror earlier studies that monitored the health of non-anaemic women. They all suggest that medicine takes a simplistic view. Anaemia is merely the end-point of iron deficiency, and we all need more iron in our diets, or through supplementation, to help us through our stressful lives.
(British Medical Journal, 2003; 326: 1124-6).