March 7, 2021

Managing Iron Deficiency in Female Athletes

Taking part in regular intensive workouts, sports such as running around pitch in Football Kits from places like or just general everyday exercise can often leave women feeling lethargic due to a depletion in iron levels, which in turn can contribute to a lower level of interest and motivation going forward.

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Why Is Iron so Important?
Iron is a component of haemoglobin, a protein in the blood that helps to transport oxygen to the cells in a person’s body. Without enough of it in your body, you’ll often find yourself feeling irritable and notice that you’re struggling to concentrate.
It also aids in the creation of red blood cells and is involved in the electron transport system – this controls the release of energy to cells. It also contributes towards a healthy immune system.
Due to its importance, it is vital that your body receives the amount of iron it needs for exercise. Iron is an essential nutrient, so your body needs to obtain it from outside of the body – from the food you eat.
Research into Iron Management
There have been a lot of different studies into how women differ to men when it comes to iron, and it is widely considered that female athletes are at a higher risk of having issues with their iron levels than men are.
The studies also show that if women don’t consume enough iron to keep their levels at the required level, it can cause ‘iron deficiency anaemia’ to develop. Given that dietary iron recommendations are 1.3 to 1.7 times higher for athletes, you can see how important it is to keep on top of your iron levels.
Thanks to advances and discoveries in sport science, it is possible for female athletes to manage their iron levels using an iron supplements whilst maintaining a healthy diet high in haem iron.
Haem iron is found in animal products and is the form of iron most easily absorbed by the body, whereas non-haem iron is found in plant foods and isn’t absorbed as easily, though that doesn’t mean it should be ignored.
Ideally, a diet containing foods such as liver, beef and lamb, along with kidney beans, leafy green vegetables and dried fruits, would be the aim, as they are all high in iron, meaning that the days of feeling lethargic after exercise will end.