Dr. Friedman shares if an iron deficiency can cause fatigue.
Okay yes, iron deficiency can give you fatigue. Again, it’s a very common manifestation of iron deficiency. The patients that are severely iron deficient are anemic and certainly anemic patients are very tired, but mild iron deficiency can also give it to you.
It’s not necessarily an endocrine problem but endocrinologist often will measure or assess someone’s iron levels because the patients are coming in to see them because of fatigue.
And then the test I would recommend is called a ferritin level. This measures iron stores so it’s sort of the amount of iron you have remaining in your body, most of it in your bone marrow.
In women that have undergone or women into their 40s, you know you think about it, she has had 30 years of menses. Every month she loses about a pint of blood or so, and over all these years she could be quite iron deficient. She could maybe taking some multivitamin, has a little bit of iron but it’s often not enough to replace it.
So women are very often iron deficient. If this happened in a man who is 60 I’d be concerned about colon cancer, but a woman who is 40 and iron deficient it’s almost surely due to their menses and there is not a reason for having any kind of workup.
I aim for a ferritin level somewhere between 50 and 70 or at least that. There are conditions such as illnesses and information that raise your iron, or ferritin level, excuse me.
But there’s not many conditions that give you low ferritin other than the iron deficiency. So I will measure a ferritin level and try to aim to increase it with iron supplementation and this often goes a long way in helping a woman with their fatigue.
Okay, so ferritin is a blood test that measures iron stores and the range the lab often gives might be 40 to 300. But I think sort of about 70 is optimal, above 70 is optimal.
Many women have a level 10 or 5. They certainly need replacement, but often a woman might have a level of 30 or 40 that they would do better if they did get it up to 70.
About Dr. Theodore Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., M.Phil.:
Dr. Theodore Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., M.Phil., specializes in hard-to-diagnose-and- treat cases of adrenal, pituitary, thyroid, and fatigue disorders. He's been with the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine since 2005 and serves as Chief of the Endocrinology, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine Division at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. He also served as Director of the Multi-Disciplinary Chronic Fatigue Clinic at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from 1998-2000.
Dr. Friedman has a private practice near Beverly Hills, California as well as privileges at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Martin Luther King Medical Center.