IRON DEFICIENCY AND FEMALE ATHLETES
Athletes (male or female) have to try to monitor their nutrition. If an athletes has a suppressed hemoglobin value, the supplementation of iron (if blood iron levels are low) can help building the formation of red blood cells
Lets talk a little bit about iron deficiency at female endurance athletes:
In general, female endurance athletes suffer from iron deficits and higher iron depletion than men. For female athletes it is important to monitor their iron level and watch their nutrition and eat special supplements during training and competition.
Iron is a necessary “evil” to form Hemoglobin, which is the main component for red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to your muscles. With less oxygen performance decreases.
Research has shown that iron deficits are found at most female high performance endurance athletes and less at male athletes in the same category.
On average 55% of all female athletes suffer from iron deficits or iron anemia. This is more than every second athlete!!! A permanent iron deficit leads to a permanent decrease of the total Hemoglobin in the blood with the result in an iron deficit anemia. As a result, not a lot of oxygen can be transported to the muscles and the performance level decreases. At this level, the blood binds zinc atoms instead of iron. A proper blood test can measure, based on the zinc protoporphyrin parameter, the level of an iron deficiency.
The symptoms of iron deficiency include loss of endurance, chronic fatigue, high exercise heart rate, low power, frequent injury, recurring illness, and loss of interest in exercise and irritability. Other symptoms include poor appetite, and increased incidence and duration of colds and infections. Many of these symptoms are also common to over-training, so a misdiagnosis is common. The only sure way to diagnose a deficiency is a blood test to determine the iron status. If you experience any of the symptoms above, and you are in one of the higher risk categories, you should visit your physician for lab work.
What can you do to boost your iron level?
Athletes (male or female) have to try to monitor their nutrition. If an athletes has a suppressed hemoglobin value, the supplementation of iron will help increase the red blood cell production.
Iron Tablets or Natural Iron
Iron tablets often lead to digestion problems or diarrhea. The side effects are often so severe that athletes will not continue with the treatment.
Due to these facts it is crucial to find food which contains a high source of natural easy absorbable iron and which can be added easily to anyone’s nutrition.
Below a list of food sources and their iron levels:
- Nuts (30g): 1.2mg
- Sunflower seads (20g): 1.4mg
- Yeast Flakes (10g): 1.8mg
- Red Meat (100g): 2mg
- Carrots (100g): 2mg
- Wheat Germs(30g): 2.4mg
- Oats (50g): 3mg
- Pumpernickel Bread (50g): 3mg
- Spinach (100g): 4mg
- Spirulina (3g): 4.5mg
- Millet (50g): 4.5mg
- Soy flakes(50g): 4.5mg
- Quinoa (50g): 5.5.mg
- Amaranth (50g): 7.5mg
As you can see the list of quality foods with sufficient enough iron is selective. A inactive human should intake at least 15mg of iron per day. If you are looking at the list ask your self the question how many grams do you eat of the above products? Not enough I believe!
Several of these products can be found in grocery stores and can be added to your daily meal (cereal, salads etc.). Only a few companies have specialized in using some of these products to create energy bars or drinks.
Why do we have a iron deficiency if some foods contain enough iron and we eat it every day? Each of the following increases the risk of iron deficieny:
- An inadequate supply of dietary iron.
- An increased demand for iron due to hard training which stimulates an increase in red blood cells and blood vessel production.
- High iron loss due to injury, or menstruation.
- Heavy sweating.
If we look more detailed into the nutritional component, we can find that a human body becomes anemic due the resorption of iron. The body can only absorb bivalent iron (Fe2+). Oxidized iron can not be used. A lot of iron in food is oxidized and the human body can not use it. The only real medication to treat iron deficiency are oral iron preparations which carry a load of the above mentioned side effects. For an athletes it is important to monitor your nutrition and eat some of the natural products like Spirulina, Quinoa and Amaranth to give the body high absorbable bivalent iron.
DO your research add the right foods with quality of iron and also find good natural supplements. As a good natural iron supplement with I can recommend Salus Floradix Formula. To find more about the product visit their website under Flora Health. Salus Floradix Formula is an easy to digest liquid solution, a high absorbable iron compound, and the dosage is safe to use over a long term without any side effects!