Iron is the mineral that is found in the greatest concentrations in the blood. Two of iron's most important functions are the production of hemoglobin (the oxygen-transport protein that gives blood its color) in muscle tissues, and the oxygenation of red blood cells.
An estimated 11-13% of women without anemia suffer from iron deficiency. Evidence suggests that regular aerobic exercise may deplete the body's iron stores, placing a significant number of women at risk for iron deficiency.
A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology examined this relationship between iron levels and aerobic exercise in 42 iron-depleted women without anemia. Specifically, the authors sought to determine whether iron supplementation could improve aerobic endurance in this group of women. Subjects received 50 mg of iron or placebo twice daily for six weeks, and trained five days per week on a cycle ergometer. The intensity of the aerobic workout was increased each week until subjects were training at 75-85% of maximum heart rate in the final four weeks of the study.
Results showed that women given the iron supplement had faster times in a 15-km "time trial" (in which each woman attempted to cycle 15 km in as fast a time as possible). The authors conclude that iron supplementation may enhance adaptation to endurance training, as reflected by increased endurance capacity in iron-depleted, nonanemic women.
Are you getting enough iron and other essential minerals and vitamins necessary for good health? Your chiropractor can evaluate your current health status and outline a diet and exercise program suitable to your needs.
Hinton PS, Giordano C, Brownlie T, et al. Iron supplementation improves endurance after training in iron-depleted, nonanemic women. Journal of Applied Physiology 2000: Vol. 88, pp1103-1111.