When participating in your routine training regime, do you feel like you have legs made of lead? Alongside your metal stumps, is there a noticeable drop in performance and suddenly an onslaught of fatigue? You might think that you are over-training, but this isn’t always the case.
Iron depletion is a condition that likes to disguise itself, similar to feelings of being over-trained or under-rested. Training regularly for an event may cause the depletion of your iron stores especially if you are a woman or a vegetarian. I won’t leave out the gentlemen but their daily recommendation of iron intake is a mere 8mg in relation to the ladies intake of 18mg per day.
Iron is regarded as the fourth most common element on the planet and it is essential to life. 65-70% of the iron in the body is referred to as ‘transport iron’, which is iron that is part of haemoglobin (the red pigment in our blood cells).
Prepare to become bored with your biology lesson but the ‘transport iron’ within your body is necessary for the production of haemoglobin in red blood cells. Haemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and if iron levels are low, normal haemoglobin production slows down. This results in a decrease of the transport of oxygen around the body, which can cause fatigue, dizziness and lowered immunity. Ultimately, this can make it difficult to keep up with your training programme.
Iron for Athletes
This sounds like the latest campaign going on, “We need iron for our athletes!” However joking aside, research has shown that men and women who take part in competitive running, swimming and cycling have marginal or inadequate iron levels. Experts believe this is due to an increase in gastrointestinal blood cells after exercise and then a greater turnover of red blood cells once you have completed your training.
Where to Find Iron?
Eat the best sources of iron and seek out iron rich foods such as:
Pistachios contain the most iron out of the nut family at 14mg per 100g, which is about four times the amount that almonds, brazil nuts and cashews contain.
Iron is extremely difficult for the body to absorb. It is best to eat it from red meats however if you are eating a plant-based source, you must consume it with vitamin C to ensure the best absorption.
Make sure that as an athlete, you are getting enough iron to get out into the open water and improve your performance.
If you need any further advice please give us a call on 0333 5777946.