Sporty people need more iron. That’s because intense exercise increases your body’s need for iron as your body excretes it as part of the inflammatory and healing/repair processes – and it also decreases your ability to absorb it. This means that athletes are at a greater risk for anemia due to iron deficiency.
Even an average person can feel tired with a ferritin score of 16, despite being considered “healthy” by NHS standards. And (especially) if you’re sports, you need to be aiming for at least double that figure.
So how do you ensure that your iron levels remain at optimum levels for sport and health? Well, first of all, you want to find out what your body’s stores of ferritin look like, and the most obvious place to start is your GP. If you’re having trouble getting an appointment, or you’d prefer to go down the private route anyway, there are a number of excellent and relatively inexpensive tests to choose from.
You also obviously want to make sure that you’re getting enough iron from your diet. Red meat and dark green leaf vegetables are some of the best sources, as well as chia seeds which a lot of athletes are now enjoying as an excellent source of protein and hydration too (the seeds absorb water which also makes them an easy-to-swallow snack on the move). I also recommend a gentle iron supplement called Floridix, and there are stronger ones that I suggest if you’re borderline or low. In my experience many of the tablets my clients have been prescribed by their GP cause constipation and side effects such as nausea, which I’m sure you’ll agree is neither nor healthy if you’re keen to stay active.
If you’re curious to learn more about testing and options for ordering, I offer a free 15 minute consultation by phone and I’d be happy to help out. All you need to do is fill in your details below and I’ll be in touch. It’s brilliant to see so many British people hopping on their bikes – hurray!