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TOPIC: Anyone dealt with low iron or low ferritin levels?

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April 18, 2013 2:22 PM
I just had bloodwork done. Two years ago I was COMPLETELY wiped out with fatigue and my bloodwork showed my hemoglobin level was "slightly" low and I supplemented with iron pills for a couple months, brought it up a bit and felt tons and tons better. Since then via quite a bit of research on the subject I have learned that often distance runners notice problems with fatigue before they are actually anemic when hemoglobin levels still fall into an acceptable range but ferritin levels get low.

I was told today that my hemoglobin was OK and that I didn't need to take supplemental iron but when I asked specifically about my ferritin level they said it was 14.8. From everything I have read that is TOO LOW for an endurance athlete and that performance suffers somewhere around 25-30 and really ideally it should be 50+. I have another appt. on Monday when I can discuss this with the doctor but for now I'm continuing my iron supplements.

Anyone else dealt with this before?
April 18, 2013 2:44 PM
I had ice cravings, heard it was a symptom of iron deficiency so had bloodwork done. I had to practically beg my Dr. to even check ferritin. My hemoglobin was normal but ferritin was low. The Dr. said not to worry about it (I guess she wanted my iron stores to continue dropping until I was anemic?). That was the first and only time I saw that Dr. I started taking 45mg of iron a day, the ice cravings went away, and I felt better overall. Never got my bloodwork rechecked, although I should have. I don't take it regularly anymore.

Too much iron if you don't need it is dangerous but hopefully your Dr. will work with you to find a safe level you can take to get ferritin up. My understanding is that ferritin is a measure of iron stores so I don't really understand why it's recommended to wait until you are anemic before supplementing. If you get an answer to that, let me know!
April 18, 2013 2:48 PM
I started feeling the extreme fatigue and having really crappy runs about a month ago. I couldn't get in to see the doctor until now (we were out of state on vacation last week) so I actually started taking an iron supplement almost 3 weeks ago. Not sure what my ferritin level was then but hopefully I've brought it up some, I've been feeling a little better....not tons, but a little.
April 18, 2013 2:51 PM
Hi I'm just getting back into running so can't comment on levels for performance, but all of the women in my family have low iron and ferritin levels. I give blood regularily and have to constantly monitor my levels or I can't donate. Iron toxicity can occur over time so I actually only take supplements every other day (discuss this with your doctor if you are looking at extended supplement use). I am no longer on prescription meds and just make sure that I take a quality supplement that contains a chelated form of iron that includes abscorbic acid (vitamin C) for maximum adsorption. It's truly amazing the difference in how you feel once you get this balance right! Not sure if I'm telling you anything you don't know but good luck at the doctors.
Edited by Bounce2 On April 18, 2013 2:52 PM
April 18, 2013 5:12 PM
Hopefully I can discontinue supplementing after I get some issues resolved with my extremely heavy periods I've been having (sorry for any men here if that's TMI). The doctor is suggesting a uterine ablation.
April 19, 2013 3:16 AM
This hasn't been suggested to me before, but I don't have kids so that may be why (some fertility risk). I'm not sure about your individual situation but from what I just read (love google), a uterine ablation sounds like it might be a viable option if you have considered all other non-surgical options. I know I have tried all the birth control options my doctor could think of to see if anything would help but I still haven't found anything yet so you may be in a similar situation.. I do know some women have had success with the hormone IUD (can't remember its name) that may be something else you could consider if you haven't already although I believe there can be side effects with it as well grumble
April 19, 2013 9:51 AM
I've tried hormonal birth control which work very well to lessen the bleeding but wreak havoc with my life with so many side effects that I'm not willing to take them anymore. We are completely finished having children, our two are 10 and 8. My husband had a vasectomy about 7 years ago so no concerns about the ablation ruining my fertility. :)
April 19, 2013 5:17 PM
LOL I know what you mean... gotta love the side effects... NOT!
Good luck :)
April 20, 2013 9:18 PM
have you been checked for celiac disease? B12 levels?
April 22, 2013 4:25 PM

have you been checked for celiac disease? B12 levels?

The doc ran a CBC and didn't say B12 levels were off.....and I'm definitely NOT celiac.
April 24, 2013 11:01 AM
I am in the same boat right now. I have been draaaagging bottom lately-in my work day and on my runs. I am anemic so the doctor gave me Ferrous Sulfate 325mg tablets to take once a day.

My ferritin levels test hasnt come back yet. I have been taking my pills for 3 weeks and it is getting better. Not dramatic but I dont hate my life when running again
April 25, 2013 7:07 AM
Well I just had a conversation with the doctor and the person who called with my lab results (the one who told me NOT to take supplemental iron) was incorrect.

The doctor DOES want me to take iron, she said my hemoglobin was 13 (which falls in the normal range) but given the fact that my ferritin was 14 and I had already been on iron for 3 weeks that was quite low. She wants me to stay on iron (ferrous sulfate 325mg tablets - same as you RenewedRunner) for 3 months and then have bloodwork done again.

Also I'm headed in on Monday for an ultrasound to check for fibroids or any other possible cause of my heavy periods and after that I will have another follow-up with the doctor to figure out what the course of treatment will this point my options are probably the uterine ablation or an IUD.

I'm feeling more positive about things. I've taken a complete rest week even though mentally that's hard to do right in the middle of marathon training. Hoping next week when I get out there again I will be feeling even better and ready to get back at it again.

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