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I've been back to my doctor and I have more of an understanding of where my levels are sitting.

I'm not anemic. But my iron stores are very low.

My ferritin is 7.

What I want to know is, can I attribute my feelings of fatigue, lethargy, irritability and heavy headedness to such a low ferritin level without being anemic, or does low ferritin not affect you unless you are anemic as well ?

And a second questions ... how long will it take to build my ferritin level up to an acceptable level ? And what is an acceptable level ?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

I'll try to answer your questions but there's nothing "concrete" about.

Regarding if you would feel bad with a ferritin of 7 and not being anemic. The scientific proof is out on this and most doctors in the U.S. won't even give you the time of day if you have normal "anemia" numbers but low ferritin. Some informal literature that I read states that athletes don't perform as well or get as much oxygen throughout the cells with low ferritin without anemia. Personally, I think you can feel very bad with ferritin levels that are low. But I think the cutoff and side effects are going to be different for many people.

For instance, I was feeling pretty bad for awhile. I found out that I had a ferritin of 5. But I've heard people here report symptoms far worse than mine with ferritin levels in the 20s.

As far as building up--again, this is very individual. It's going to depend on what the cause is of the low ferritin and what type of supplements you are taking and how well they are absorbed.

I was "anemic" back in July 2006. I started very low supplementation in December 2006. In January 2007, I was no longer anemic (but really very borderline) yet my ferritin was 5 (don't know what it was before then as no one tested). So within 4 weeks, I no longer had anemia. I was retested in March 2007 and my "anemia" numbers were even higher but my ferritin was at 5 still. :( I then started adding a Flinstone's Vitamin to some iron water I was drinking. In June 2007, I was up to a 12 with ferritin and my anemia numbers were steady.

I then stopped the iron water and doubled up on my Flintstones. In September 2007, I had my best improvement ever--my ferritin was at 24 and my hemoglobin went from a 37.7 (where it had been hovering all year) up to a 39. I can't say that through all that I got a noticeable improvement in my well-being UNTIL this month. I am FINALLY starting to feel more energetic. But it has taken the level in the 20s to get me that way. I hope to keep improving.

Now, if I had taken more potent iron supplements, I could have done this a whole lot faster. But they kill me, so I have to take it easy.

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