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Hi, I'm female, 28, vegetarian, and runner. I am on birth control and have very light periods. I tried to donate blood last week but was turned away and went to my doctor's to get it checked out (I donated 6 weeks prior and was fine). I do have some symptoms, including hair loss, difficulty sleeping, night sweats occasionally, and cold hands/feet.

Here are my recent test results form the doctor:

Iron, Total 28 (40-175 normal)
Iron Binding Capacity 447 (250-450 normal)
% Saturation 6 (15-50 normal)

White Blood Cell Count 3.9 (3.8-10.8 normal)
Red Blood Cell Count 4.02 (3.80-5.10 normal)
Hemoglobin 11.7 (11.7-15.5 normal)
Hematocrit 34.2 (35.0-45.0)

Ferritin 7 (10-154)

I am really frustrated with my doctor because I went in a year ago because of the hair loss issue and he only did the normal blood test and my hemoglobin and hematocrit were within range so he said my iron wasn't an issue. Now a year later my ferritin levels seem pretty depleted although my hemoglobin and hematocrit levels don't seem that bad. The nurse gave me the results over the phone and told me the doctor wants me to take 300mg of over-the-counter Iron Sulfate pills once a day and to come and get retested in 3 months.

Should I be more concerned about my iron deficiency and what the cause is and switch doctors or proceed with the doctor's recommendation? I was really sick a few months ago - severe abdominal pain and high-grade fever - the doctor said it was 'just the flu'. A few days later I was in the ER on IV which they thought was a kidney infection and treated me with antibiotics. I eventually got better although I did have night sweats for a week or two after the ER visit. When I was back in at the doctor's office they told me that my cultures never grew from the ER so it definitely wasn't a kidney infection and they are not really sure what that was about. My bloodwork from the ER visit was all off, high WBC, low hemaglobin, low hematocrit - I don't know if there is any correlation between me being sick then and the anemia now. The doctor did take a chest x-ray when I was there to rule out something (TB and lymphoma I think?) and it came out clean.

Anyways, any advice on how to proceed or recommendations on what OTC iron supplements I should take would be appreciated. THANKS!

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