Study Finds that Low Iron Levels May Worsen Your Mental Health Symptoms

Study Finds that Low Iron Levels May Worsen Your Mental Health Symptoms

According to new research, the body’s iron level has a significant impact on one’s mental health.

Deficits in Iron can exacerbate the signs of depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia because it is necessary for the production of vital neurotransmitters that have an impact on mental health.

Even in people who do not have iron-deficiency anemia, iron supplementation can help with mood improvement and fatigue reduction.

Despite Iron’s crucial role, few patients and healthcare professionals are aware of its link to mental health.

Stephanie Weinberg Levin, M.D., stressed that many people with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, as well as the medical professionals who treat them, may not be aware of this connection.

While completing a fellowship in integrative psychiatry, she delved deeply into the subject. In a recent review article, she and former psychiatry resident Theresa Gattari, M.D., outlined the current knowledge.

Dried and dried fruits, eggs, iron-rich cereals, liver, lean red meat, poultry, dark red meat, oysters, tuna, salmon and whole grains, are some of the best sources of Iron out there.

Pretty much everyone should consume foods high in Iron because many people already don’t get enough of it.

However, people who have mental health issues may want to request from their healthcare professional a blood test that specifically measures their iron levels.

It’s critical to increase Iron in the diet and also take iron supplements if a healthcare professional advises it.

Levin said that “Iron is the most common nutrient deficiency and can have a big impact. You can be iron-deficient without having anemia, but many mental health care providers aren’t aware that iron deficiency by itself has been linked to worse symptoms, or that supplementation has been linked to improved symptoms. But there is evidence there.”

According to the expert, primary care doctors may not request tests for iron levels unless a patient exhibits anemia symptoms, is receiving treatment for a condition known to affect the body’s iron levels, or has already been diagnosed with anemia.

“We don’t always look for nutrient deficiencies, but they can really take a toll on well-being,” said Levin, who also stressed that nutrients’ role in mental health supplements expanding knowledge about the significance of stress, sleep patterns, and physical activity.

Iron aids your body in producing the molecules required to create essential brain chemicals in addition to its well known role in supporting red blood cells in their vital task of transporting oxygen throughout the body.

Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are three neurotransmitters that are crucial for mental health and are produced by your body with the help of Iron.

Levin and Gattari write that evidence points to a link between low iron levels and signs of schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.

A large study that revealed higher rates of anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and psychotic disorders in those with iron deficiency anemia is one example of this.

Another is surveys of sizable populations that revealed a higher number of people with depression also reported having had a history of iron deficiency anemia.

A correlation between the symptoms’ severity and lower iron levels has also been suggested by smaller studies in individuals going through their first psychotic episode.

Other studies have assessed what happens when people with mental health conditions take iron supplements, in addition to studies that examined the connection between iron levels and symptoms.

In three other studies iron supplementation was linked to improvements in mental health symptoms.

Even if they didn’t meet the criteria for iron-deficiency anemia, numerous studies in people with and without mental illness diagnoses have shown improvements in mood and fatigue after starting iron supplementation.

According to one study, half of those with ferritin levels below 100 nanograms/milliliter, which is higher than the standard of 30 ng/ml for defining iron deficiency, showed improvement.

Ferritin levels are crucial to monitor because they serve as an indicator of the body’s overall iron stores.

Blood tests for hemoglobin and Iron only assess the quantity of iron-containing protein molecules that carry oxygen to the body’s cells, respectively, in the blood.

For those who have a mental health condition as well as another component that makes them particularly vulnerable to low iron levels, in particular, Levin urges testing.

This includes those who are pregnant, have young kids, experience heavy menstrual bleeding, regularly donate blood, suffer from cancer, have had gastrointestinal surgery, have digestive disorders, or have heart failure.

There’s no agreement yet on the ideal ferritin level to strive for through dietary changes and supplements, or how frequently they should be tested after making changes, for anybody with mental health symptoms whose ferritin levels have tested low.

Additionally, there is currently no data regarding the effects of low Iron or iron supplementation on individuals with mental health diagnoses other than those listed above.

According to Levin, it may be preferable to test every 4 to 6 weeks and strive for a ferritin level of 100 ng/ml.

Any supplements you take should be disclosed to your primary care physician, regardless of whether they were prescribed by a mental health professional or you started using them on your own.

Levin warns that there is a chance of overdosing on iron supplements, so it’s critical to read the label and pick a brand that has undergone independent testing.

She said, however, that in general, “Iron supplements are affordable and may actually make a major difference on someone’s mental health if they’re deficient.”


Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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