Iron Deficiency, Anemia and Endurance Athletes

From Training Peaks

Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are hot topics in many endurance athlete’s circles. Iron, specifically low levels of it, is often linked to feelings of exhaustion and poor recovery.

Iron is a critical nutritional component for all individuals, but is particularly important for athletes, due to the important role it plays in oxygen transportation to working muscles.

Let’s take a closer look at what Iron deficiency and anemia are and how endurance athletes can take charge of their iron consumption to ensure healthy levels during training.

What are Iron and Anemia?

Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the protein that carries both oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. It also plays a key role in the transfer of oxygen in muscle cells. ATP, the body’s primary energy source, is also produced with the help of iron.

It’s an essential mineral, as our bodies don’t produce it naturally, so we have to get it from diet or supplementation to ensure we meet our nutritional needs. It’s clear to see how critical iron is for the endurance athlete, but what does it mean to have an iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional disorder in both athletes and non-athletes1. Anemia is very simply a lack of iron in the blood. Furthermore, it means that hemoglobin levels are low…

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