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Hi 8--

Well, I guess I wasn't clear. I've had similar symptoms to yours: weird flashing lights, burning tongue, ear pain and ringing, dizziness, fatigue, as well as a few more like restless legs, tingling in feet, shiny tongue, dry mouth, burning esophagus, fungal infections, no digestive juices, nighttime muscle cramps, and some gum problems. These have been persistant on and off since--- well, now that I think about it, a lot of them started after I became a vegetarian! But, anyway, over ten years. Docs have taken all kinds of tests etc etc, including iron tests about 6 times. Only one time in the last 12 years have my iron and ferritin levels been in the middle of the normal range-- and I actually felt the best during that time period. However, since I have never been anemic--- in fact my Hgb runs usually OVER the normal range--- all of them discounted the low ferritins.

Only recently have I met a doc who turned me on to the idea that low ferritin can actually cause a lot of these symptoms. Afte doing some research, I agree with her! You don't need to be anemic in order to have problems from low iron.

My understanding of how things work is that iron is used in over 200 biochemical reactions in your body--- making hemoglobin in only ONE of them. Ferritin and in your liver and bone marrow is where the body stores the iron it's not using. The best way to tell how much iron is in your body is to take a bone marrow biopsy--- but this is painful and expensive. The next best way is to measure blood ferritin. If your storage iron drops, your body produces more transferrin, a short-term iron transfer protein, and your body shifts to absorbing a greater percentage of iron.

Anyway, from what I understand, making blood is near the top of the body's to-do list-- 80% of the iron you intake is used to make blood. As your storage iron drops, your body uses most of what's left to make blood. OTHER systems start to go short on usable iron-- such as neurotransmitter production (depression, flashing lights) muscles (cramps) and hair production.

My point is, your blood hemoglobin can be perfectly fine and you can STILL be iron deficient. You only start going anemic when you've hit rock bottom in iron depletion.

I have just found out all of this stuff, so I have not yet started on any sore of therapy. I am very wary, because iron is also an oxidant. Two weeks ago I ate a beef hamburger for the first time in like 5 years--- the first red meat I;ve had in all that time. Weird thing was, I really wanted more immediately! I just craved it as soon as I put it in my mouth. It seemed to help my fatigue and muscle soreness within a day-- I felt a lot better the next day. Unfortunately, it also had a negative consequence of inducing sores in my mouth along the gumline. This makes some sense. If your body does not have enough ferritin--- storage protein--- and then you suddenly intake a huge amount of iron--- it has nowhere to go so it becomes "free" and can attack tissues.

Most treatment for low iron involves taking either oral iron pills between 100 and 300 mg a day or IV iron. I myself am very personally wary of going this route. My current plan is to slowly reintroduce red meat into my diet over the course of months so my body can build up its supply of storage protein. Another option I am looking into is to take supplemental ferritin itself, which I have found from some company.

Anyhow, you might discuss these options with your doctor. From what I've read, ferritins below 60 is when symptoms begin. There is some discussion of what is "optimal"--- some say over 100 and less than 150, but I've also read a study that women with ferritins that average 109 have increased risk of some sort of cancer. However, I've also read ANOTHER study that said that those with HIGH ferritins have a very strongly DECREASED risk of colon cancer. So, it's complicated.

"Normal" ranges of ferritin are like 10-300 for women and 15-300 for men. However, as I mentioned, I think optimal is above 60 and probably less than 150. Mine recently was 17, which is just above "normal" for men, but, according to my doc and my research, still really really low and well within the range for trouble.

The very broad general range for optimal health I guess might be somewhere over 60 but less than 150. But that's a guess.

I'll let you know how things progress with me.

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