Why are you battling fatigue when your Iron levels are ‘normal.’

There are many biological and other causes for fatigue, with Iron being the culprit or the victim as either an excess or deficiency.  Fatigue also may be due to many and varied reasons.

Iron excess and deficiency symptoms can present as fatigue or other outcomes.  Heavy periods may be due to low Iron or be the causative factor, making it vital to test levels and knowledge to interpret the results correctly in all cases.

Testing to assess is vital ahead of supplementation.  There have been many examples in my clinical practice where I have seen misguided interpretations and unpleasant outcomes.  In most cases, practitioners used the Iron marker in isolation to decide on therapy.

Regarding testing, it is vital to test the Full Iron Profile as we need this to have enough information to be safe.  Within a full Iron Profile, the iron marker detects the amount of circulating Iron on the day.  The Ferritin marker detects the amount of Iron stored in the organs and tissues (long-term indicator).  The other markers tell us about its transportation around the body.

The current acceptable Levels of Ferritin, as depicted on a laboratory report, vary, though they are around the range of 25-290.  In nutritional medicine, we generally use a much narrower ideal range of 90-100.  The problem with the regulated acceptable ranges is that you are deemed in the normal range if you are at a Ferritin level of 26 or 289.  Nutritionally, we believe in addressing the problem before it becomes a serious problem, getting you back on track sooner with fewer complications.

While we may recognise that Iron is necessary for energy and blood cell integrity, it comes into play as a vital component of Respiration, Bone health, production of Neurotransmitters (i.e. Serotonin) and DNA, detoxification, growth, immune function, skin and nail health.  Like Vitamin D, it takes substantial time, even with supplementation and an ideal scenario, to reach optimum levels, often between three to six months.  When Auto-immune pokes its nasty head in, these two nutrients will take longer to achieve optimum levels.

As with any nutrient necessary to health, Iron needs its synergistic nutrients for absorption and utilisation within the body and its biochemical pathways.  In the case of Iron, these are:

•             Vitamin C, B2, B12, Copper (needed for Iron metabolism), folic Acid, histidine, lysine, molybdenum (small amounts but vital); selenium and citrate (an acid compound)

Other suspects will impair Iron absorption; these need monitoring and, in some cases, elimination:

•             Excess levels within the body of Copper (think copper pipes), Mercury (consider tooth fillings) and Aluminium (think alfoil)

•             Antacids

•             Coffee

•             Phytates

•             Polyphenols

•             Tetracycline

The form of iron supplement taken is also important.  There is not a one size fits all.  The amount and quality of the supplement are also significant.  Like many nutrients, Iron comes in absorbable forms intended for different uses within your system.  Some Iron supplements available on the market are not in a usable form.  Factors like constipation and gut pain could be a sign you are on the wrong formulation for you or need to recheck your levels.  It is paramount to have this addressed by a nutritionist, naturopath, or specialist, as generally, doctors do not have the nutritional knowledge to suggest the most suitable form of supplements.

When optimising your health and Iron, the essential first step is pathology tests.

Once you have your results, you have a clearer picture of where you are and what you may need to address next.

Knowledge is empowering!