Thyroid UK
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Borderline....ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hah ah ah ahaaaaaaa!

ok so the hairs been falling out and i have bald patches i have chronic fatigue which is affecting my daily life, I'm pasty and depressed, my muscles ache and my joints are burning, i get tingles in my lower legs...... I am at at my wits end.....

Finally the doc agrees to run the iron test after speaking to him yesterday.....heres my results

Serum ferritin level 11 ug/L [11.0 - 307.0]

Note: New serum Ferritin assay from 21/01/15

- Ferritin results may be up to 35% lower. further action was the result....

i have been on supplements and after telling doctor i thought that my issues were down to iron deficiency he prescribed some other supplements.....(a different preparation)

How can they interpret this as 'borderline'.....?

how long will it take for these supplements to work? will my hair ever stop falling out? why hasn't the supplements worked so far? what is the point in taking supplements (been on them for 5 months) ????????

am i being fobbed off here or should i go back or should i quietly shut up and get on with it?

how bad does this have to get before someone listens? or is it that theres nothing else that can be done?

WHY isn't my system absorbing iron after 5 months??????????

Can anyone shed any light on this?????


22 Replies

This can be interpreted as borderline because the doc is only interested in numbers. He has forgotton how to use his clinical skills.

Its apallingly low..... Which iron have you been taling, and how have you taken it? When and what with? Its obviously mot being absorbed.

I know i harp on and on about this... But go and get some spatone sachets, today, from almost any chemist or amazon. Get the apple flavor ones ....

a box of them will cost about £9 and will last a coupke of weeks at 2 a day...

The soa tone is slow, but effective going. Lots of other people know anout all the different sorts of iron..... Hopefully someone will advise.... But in the meantime spatone......

Xx g.

Ps, i really liked the thread title..... Lol.


my ferritin level only increased when I took my iron with Vit C, as was recommended here, but also with digestive enzymes.

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ferrous fumerate, ferrous bisglycinat, ferritin... ferrochel - I think something with more iron is needed than Spatone...

What did the dolt of a GP prescribe?


Is the best summary of the basics I know - start on 20mg iron, this is safe for adults, but go up slowly..

Ferritin ranges not reliable, especially at the lower end, because the sample they test includes women who are ill from low iron. This is a quote from a World Health Organisation doc by Mark Wombwell on ferritin which goes into the debate.

From Mark Wombwell?? WHO document on ferritin

"Discrepancies remain in the definition of normal ranges of serum ferritin con¬centration. Some manufacturers define a normal range as the ferritin concentra¬tion found in unselected, apparently normal subjects. However, a proportion of the normal population have almost no storage iron without being anaemic, particularly young women, and a smaller proportion will be anaemic. The “normal range” in young females will thus include ferritin concentrations found in iron deficiency."

What you have (unless you have anaemia as well) is "iron depletion short of anaemia"

You may well be anaemic though, because the ranges for that are also deeply dodgy and discriminate against women.

A vitamin C deficiency can reduce ferritin levels, so take it not just because it aids absorption.

I.m going to start a new msg in case this one wipes!

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Anne Asberg has researched on this, if you like r eading research.

She found "Among 2122 healthy females the entire b-hemoglobin distribution was shifted downwards in women with s-ferritin less than 20 μg/L. Accordingly, the median b-hemoglobin was statistically significantly lower. In women with s-ferritin less than 20 μg/L the fraction with anemia was 0.15. Conclusions. Lower s-ferritin is associated with lower b-hemoglobin in many more subjects than those labelled anemic. "

In other words, low serum ferritin is a signal for low haemoglobin. It is not normal. She was testing women who were symptom free, unlike you.

general info on iron depletion short of iron anaemia.

Doing a new msg because this will get too long


BMJ. 2001 Jun 2; 322(7298): 1355–1357.

PMCID: PMC1120434

Why should women have lower reference limits for haemoglobin and ferritin concentrations than men?

D Hugh Rushton et al.

Key quotes "Women worldwide are at risk of being in a negative iron balance, and by current criteria if their haemoglobin concentration is less than 115 g/l they are deemed to be anaemic, whereas in men the cut-off point is 130 g/l.15"

•It is considered “normal” to find lower red blood cell counts and lower haemoglobin and serum ferritin concentrations in menstruating women than in age matched men

•No other mammal, including the menstruating primates, exhibits such a sex difference, and neither is there a difference in humans before puberty or after menopause

•Menstruation is the main cause of iron loss in women; 90% of UK women do not achieve the daily recommended intake of iron from their diet

•Populations used to establish reference ranges for women contained a large proportion of those with iron deficiency, thus the lower limits are too low

•This hidden deficiency has fundamental implications for women's health, particularly adolescent girls

•Male reference ranges for ferritin and haematological parameters may be of more value when assessing iron status in women

I recommend a read of the whole thing, it is in pubmed, and will be easily found on google search of its title. It will make what little blood you have boil.


if only i understood it....sorry but i don't...


i DO have the one with Vit C in it... i upped it to 4 sachets a day.....the doc said it was going in the right direction he said my levels were 4 last summer, they were 10 in Jan and just now are 11.

my scalp shows through my hair now and Ive got bald bits and receding hair line, I'm fatigued and cry all the time i just feel horrible

I actually asked him today WHY are you so reluctant to refer me? he hummed and hurred and said well i don't really know who to send you to, the endochornonolist wouldn't be interested in your iron levels, actually its pretty normal for a woman of your age with your periods all over the place......Im 50!.....i said i haven't had a period for 4 months then i had a heavy one....he said oh there you go then....

i said ok so why the chronically low vitamin D? he said well thats normal for women who are perimenopausal.....

so all of this is normal eh? if i was a fkn cat id be put down.....if this is as good as it gets ill do the job myself.

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What fools they are... you may need to find your own iron supplement which suits you. Was a full blood count done, do you have any idea what your haemoglobin is?

You will have to diagnose and cure yourself, clearly. at least for the meantime.

OK, so you are not absorbing iron.

Two obvious possibilities - you are not absorbing it. or you are losing it.

I would work through them crossing them out.

Very heavy periods? Internal bleeding (done a bowel cancer test recently?)

Malabsorption: have you excluded celiac disease? (cheap online test available). H pylori? Any gut symptoms that could give clues? Any other tests showing low nutrients which might give a clue?

I will look for some studies for you.

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I'm under range with vitamin D they said i didn't need aB Complex test....they said i didn't need iron test either until i asked for it again yesterday they said it was too expensive


Hi Bioluminence

Sorry to read you are having a really bad time of it. i feel rubbish too, fortunately i am able to tolerate ferrous fumerate though which i have started to take 3 x 210mcg per day along with some VitC.

I cant help but think that your GP should not be investigating why you are still having low ferritin after supplementing for quite a while? i confess that i stopped taking iron supplements for a while as i was fed up of taking so many supplements and not knowing what if anything was helping. My hair is not thinning but i am having breakage issues and my hair tangles as soon as i brush it. My hair used to be my best asset and im tempted to get it all cut off as it certainly does not look good at the moment

Like you im still trying to figure out how to feel well again and often i dont know which direction to go in and feel like im clutching at straws with different things it is really frustrating i know but we have to keep searching for the answers....i have a drawer full of various supplements! This forum has been really helpful for me and its great to share information with fellow sufferers (its not good that others have this though i might add!)

I really hope you start to feel better soon and find some answers about the low iron if the spatone is not working for you.


I find vitamin c with gentle iron is the key for me. Not a mega dose but little and often throughout the day (ie cheap chewable 200mg every 90 mins to 2 hours) It's like treating yourself to a sweet. Good luck, please look into the other options suggested above.

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You've never said how much Spatone you take.

You have to take 50 sachets in one go before you overdose on it.

Until you tell us how much of anything you take, our hands are tied.


i was taking 4 per day I'm now on stuff doctor gave me210 ferris fumerate, i was also juicing raw spinach 2-4 times a week eating red meat green leafy veg etc etc etc....

I have REALLY tried to get my levels up but the ferris sulphate they gave me before turned me inside out hence the spatone, i have been religious about taking al of my supplements, the B complex has ferrous in it too and I've taken that for over a month as well....


Thanks Bio. I'd say double it and then some as you seem to have a lot of wriggle room with Spatone - except then, it starts to get very expensive :0(

I just wonder if you need a massive loading dose of iron (I'm talking Spatone here). Whatever you're taking is (as Asapma rightly thought) either being used up, not absorbed or bled out.

Here is a list of iron blocking foods:-

You can also contact that site with a question - I've never used them before though.


This is from their site:-

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Home // Iron Disorders // Iron Deficiency Anemia

For More information on Iron Deficiency Anemia, Visit

What is iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is a condition resulting from too little iron in the body. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the world. In the USA, despite food fortification, iron deficiency is on the rise in certain populations. Iron deficiency at critical times of growth and development can result in premature births, low birth weight babies, delayed growth and development, delayed normal infant activity and movement. Iron deficiency can result in poor memory or poor cognitive skills (mental function) and can result in poor performance in school, work,and in military or recreational activities. Lower IQs have been linked to iron deficiency occurring during critical periods of growth.

Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency

A person who is iron deficient may also be anemic and as a result may have one or more symptoms of anemia. These can include, chronic fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headaches, depression, sore tongue, sensitivity to cold (low body temp), shortness of breath doing simple tasks (climbing stairs, walking short distances, doing housework), restless legs syndrome, pica (the desire to chew ice or non-food items,) and loss of interest in work, recreation, relationships, and intimacy.

Causes iron deficiency

Iron deficiency can be the result of numerous and multiple causes. These fall into two broad categories: an increased need for iron and/or decreased intake or absorption of iron.

Increased demand:

Iron deficiency can occur during rapid periods of growth. For this reason nature makes certain that developing fetuses, newborns and infants up until the age of about six months have an ample supply of iron. Conditions that result in iron deficiency include blood loss from heavy menstruation, pregnancy, frequent or excessive blood donation, fibroids, digestive tract disease (including infections), as well as surgeries and accidents. Iron deficiency can also be caused by certain medications, some dietary supplements or substances that cause bleeding such as pain relievers with aspirin, and also as a result of poisoning from lead, toxic chemicals or alcohol abuse.

Decreased intake or absorption

Decreased intake or absorption can occur in diets that do not include heme iron, the iron in meat and shellfish. Heme iron is absorbed more efficiently than non-heme iron found in plants and dietary supplements. Other nutrients, however, such as vitamins C and B12, folate or zinc can facilitate sufficient non-heme iron absorption. Consuming certain foods and medications can interfere with the absorption of iron. These include dairy products, coffee, tea, chocolate, eggs, and fiber. Medication that inhibit iron absorption include antacids, proton pump inhibitors (to treat acid reflux) or calcium supplements. Diseases conditions can also limit iron absorption; this can happen as a result of insufficient stomach acid, lack of intrinsic factor (hormone needed to absorb vitamin B12), celiac disease, inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease, and in autoimmune diseases and hormone imbalances.

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Sorry but your GP has to be severely negligent ignoring such a low ferritin when you have been supplementing for months

Hypothyroidism causes a massive loss of vitamins and minerals thats for sure

My husband was diagnosed with scurvy and beri beri and deficiecies of zinc and almost everything long before his hashimotos was diagnosed

And that was despite always eating 6 oranges a day and wholemeal stoneground bread that i always made along with a very healthy diet

As others have said you need checking for things like bowell cancer because any cancer latches on to a blood supply and can cause aneamia


You do know that spinach inhibitis absorption of iron, don't you?

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I have chronic fatigue daily.I have had low ferritin for 10 days, lowest was 2 years ago when it was 8. Last summer it was 15, range here is 15-150 and I was told I had to go on iron, even though I can't tolerate it. I have been taking Feroglobin liquid,y ou can get it from Tesco and it has raised my result to 31 in 13 weeks. So now I am within range but my GP tells me he would like my levels at, at least 50 as you can feel terrible with low levels. My HB is 15 so I am not anaemic thankfully. I am in the UK and my GP has made me supplement. 10 years ago my ferritin when first tested was 19 and he said I had to take iron so your GP is wrong to ignore a result of 11!

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Seems like you have a GP who is sane and informed.

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many times you can take iron serveral times a day with VITAMIN C so it is more effective.....and away from calcium


Hi, no answers but I'm as confused as you. My ferritin level is 15 and doc prescribed iron, which I notice we have to be careful taking with thyroxine. My daughter said 15 is okay, within range, and doc is just giving me a prescription as a placebo hoping to keep me out of her surgery!

I'm going to take it and hope because others on here say we need good levels of ferritin for thyroid function, but like you, I can't understand why mine is low.


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