Author: Christi Kowalewski, HBa. CPT, CPAFLA
Function: Iron plays a key role in oxygen transport. When exercising the blood carries oxygen to the working muscles. The components in blood that make this possible are the red blood cells (RBC), which contain a protein called hemoglobin which binds to oxygen. Iron is essential to maintaining adequate hemoglobin levels.

Deficiency Disease: Iron deficiency anemia

Primary Symptoms include: weakness, headache, pallor, intolerance to cold, and loss of attention span.

Effects of Iron on Exercise: Because iron plays a key role in the delivery of oxygen to working muscles during exercise, a lack of iron would seriously hinder ones ability to exercise at ones aerobic potential. This is due to the fact that fewer binding sites on the hemoglibin proteins are available t
o bind to oxygen. This means that fewer oxygen molecules are transported to the needy muscles then would be possible should adequate iron facilitate optimal oxygen transport. What does this all mean? An iron deficient athlete will fatigue sooner that the athlete who has adequate iron stores.

Significant Sources: Although many foods now adays are fortified with iron, some natural sources include: beef, baked potatoes, clams, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, eggs, fish, liver, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, avocadoes, and beets.

Recommended Intake: Men 19-50 years old : 10 milligrams per day. Men 51+ 10 milligrams per day. Women 19-50 15 milligrams per day. 51+ 10 milligrams per day Recommended Link: Here