top of page
Search

RISK OF LOW IRON & DEFICIENCY IN RUNNERS

 

Many runners are suffering from poor performance, fatigue, and other symptoms due to an iron deficiency, especially in the summer or warm and high-humidity, when we lose iron through sweat. Also, performing long-distance runs or Ultra Races, our body will be deficient of iron. Myself, after every Ultra Races, my level of iron was very low. Now I consume iron supplements daily after my run.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IRON AND FERRITIN

 

Causes of low iron in runners:

 

  • Iron is a mineral present in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells in the body. 

  • Low iron or an iron deficiency means there is a decrease in the total content of iron in the body.

  • Anemia or iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is when the iron deficiency is severe enough to reduce the production of red blood cells, called erythropoiesis. 

  • Ferritin is a blood protein that stores iron and releases iron when the body needs it.

  • A ferritin test can reveal how much iron is stored in your body. If a ferritin test shows a low ferritin level, it indicates your body’s iron stores are low and you have iron deficiency. 

  • It is important to note that ferritin tests can be more accurate in revealing how much iron is stored in your body than an iron serum test. Iron in your blood can fluctuate based on how much iron you recently ingested. Ferritin levels are related to how much iron is stored in your body.

 

WHY DO RUNNERS HAVE LOW IRON?

 

Runners commonly have low iron also known as runner’s anemia or athletic anemia, especially in the summer, and high-humidity This is because runners lose iron in their sweat and when their feet strike the ground.

 

Athletic anemia or sports anemia is defined as a reduction in iron content in an individual’s blood as a result of strenuous exercise.

 

RUNNING OR EXERCISE CAN MAKE ANEMIA WORSE

 

Athletes with anemia or very low iron may be advised to not exercise until their levels are within a normal range. This is because intense run or exercise, especially activities that involve lots of sweating and feet striking the ground such as running long-distance, can lower our iron levels and put us at risk for anemia. 

 

If you have low iron or low ferritin, make sure you take some iron supplements daily.

 

LOW LEVEL OF IRON CAN AFFECT YOUR RUNNING

 

Being low in iron can be damaging to the way we feel and how we perform. Iron deficiency in runners can lead to extreme fatigue.

 

Iron is part of the protein hemoglobin which plays a starring role in supplying our muscles and organs with oxygen. Iron is also found in muscles in the form of myoglobin, the protein that extracts oxygen from hemoglobin molecules. There must be enough iron for the metabolism and transport of oxygen to function properly and particularly during exercise.

 

Iron also works to convert carbs and fat into energy.

So, if we’re low in iron, we’re likely feeling low in energy.

 

SYMPTOMS OF IRON DEFICIENCY IN RUNNERS

 

The biggest sign of an iron deficiency is fatigue or low energy levels.

 

Signs of iron deficiency:

 

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Weakness

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Looking pale

  • Headaches

  • Sore or tender tongue

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Chest pain

  • Nails easily break

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue at the start of a workout

 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RAISE IRON LEVELS?

 

If we have an iron deficiency, depending on the severity, it could take three to six months to raise our iron levels. It’s a good idea to have our iron levels regularly reviewed, likely every three months, by our doctor. 

If we have severely low iron levels or ferritin levels, our doctor will prescribe iron supplements.

 

3 WAYS TO FIX LOW IRON IN RUNNERS

 

1.     EAT IRON RICH FOODS

 

Eat iron-rich foods like beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, chickpeas, and dark chocolate. Reminder, iron from animal-based products have a higher rate of absorption than those from plants. 

 

Other iron-rich foods include:

 

  • Lean red meat

  • Fish

  • Turkey

  • Beans

  • Chickpeas

  • Leafy greens like spinach

  • Broccoli

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Quinoa

  • Whole wheats like brown rice

  • Dark chocolate 

 

Combine with Vitamin C or Vitamin C supplement.

 

2.     TAKE AN IRON SUPPLEMENT AFTER YOU RUN.

 

We should take the iron supplement after our run, and to optimize the absorption we can combine with vitamin C, or even some orange juice.

Consume 18-36mg of Iron daily.

 

Also, we can double up on the supplement if our levels are low enough. And we can take two per day if we are running a lot in the summer or high-humidity.

 

3.     AVOID TAKING IRON WITH CAFFEINE, CALCIUM, AND ZINC.

 

We should not take our iron supplement with caffeine, calcium, and zinc which can interfere with absorption. I do not take my supplement in the morning with my coffee. I wait a few hours after my coffee.

 



Focus On Good Iron Supplements Daily, Feel Less Fatigue, More Energy, Less Pain or Injury, Enjoy Much Better Nice Runs and Exercises!

Comments


bottom of page