Athletes Increased Risk for Iron Deficiency

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An active female athlete involved in a rigorous training program has an increased risk for iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency is common with or without anemia.

What:

  • Decreases performance for the athlete
  • Often is not detected on a standard blood test.
  • The capacity to transport oxygen to the cells of the muscle via myoglobin is impaired
  • Energy production is limited [vital for competition]
  • Male athletes may also be at an increased risk for iron deficiency
  • Vegetarian athletes

Fix It:

  • Athletes should eat meals or snacks that contain adequate quantities of iron-rich foods and, in some cases, see a physician for a recommended iron supplement.
Foods rich in iron include:
  • Red meat
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots
  • Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas

9.362, Nutrition for the Athlete

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