An awesome support team makes reaching your full potential possible, and a big part of that support team is an awesome physio! Enter Beasts TC physio Jon Pierce:
Even a small shortage can hurt your performanceBy Markham Heid
Maybe that’s why they call them Ironman triathlons. If your iron levels are low—but not so low that you’re anemic—your energy levels and endurance will still suffer, concludes a new study from Cornell University.
The researchers split 31 female collegiate rowers—roughly half of whom had already tested positive for low iron levels—into two groups. While one group took a daily iron supplement, the other swallowed a placebo.
After 6 weeks, blood lactate levels—a reliable indicator of muscle fatigue—were about 10% lower among the iron supplementers compared to the placebo group. The women in the iron group also recovered from strenuous exercise faster, according to the research. Additionally, the rowers with the lowest iron levels at the start of the study improved their energy expenditure the most after taking iron supplements, the research shows.
About 1 in 10 adult women are anemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And roughly 20% of women suffer from low iron levels, studies have shown. Among physically active women, that rate jumps to around 30%, explains study coauthor Diane DellaValle, PhD, RDN, now at the Medical University of South Carolina. While fatigue is always the first symptom of anemia, Dr. DellaValle says women who fall into this “iron depleted but not anemic” category may have no noticeable symptoms.
Even without anemia, it seems as though poor oxygen delivery due to iron depletion results in more lactate production—and therefore more muscle fatigue—during exercise, Dr. DellaValle adds.
Her advice? All women should have an annual blood test to check for iron. If your doctor says you’re low, Dr. DellaValle recommends taking a daily multivitamin supplement containing 18 mg of iron. You can also get iron from foods like lentils, dark leafy greens, and red meat. Tomatoes and citrus foods like oranges will also help your body absorb more iron, Dr. DellaValle says. You should have your doctor re-test your blood every 2 to 3 months until the problem’s resolved, she recommends.