If you’re iron deficient, your running could suffer, according to Dr. Dheeraj Khiatani (Medical Director) & Tim Cushway (Founder & Director) from The Iron Suites Medical Centre. (This article was posted originally on the Global Run Club website.)
Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional deficiency.
It can lead to fatigue, decreased exercise capacity, and a slower post-exercise recovery. Iron is also a key element for a fully functioning immune system. Despite these staggering rates and significant impacts, iron stores are rarely proactively checked. Have you ever seen serum ferritin on your lab report?
Runners and endurance athletes have up to 70% higher iron requirements than their sedentary counterparts. This is due to foot-strike (which can lead to haematuria – or blood in the urine – from the blood cells literally being pounded to death over thousands of strides), inflammation (due to the stress of strenuous exercise which then reduces the amount of iron our body can absorb from food) and increased sweating.
Iron deficiency affects nearly one in three women, and this is due to menses and pregnancy (especially multiple pregnancies close together).
Women with moderate to heavy menses can lose one liter of blood (or 500mg iron) annually and each pregnancy requires ~1,000mg iron (or one-third of an average women’s total iron stores).