Iron is a micronutrient that plays an important role in the body. Iron is not only needed in the body for overall health, but it plays a bigger role for athletes. Recreational and competitive athletes are starting to understand the role that iron plays in correlation with energy levels and performance.
Iron is essential for your energy and metabolic well-being. It transports oxygen we breathe to our muscles. Iron also assists in converting the carbohydrates we eat into energy. Our bodies cannot thrive or perform their best without proper iron levels.
Maintaining healthy iron levels can improve your overall athletic performance and can help you avoid chronic fatigue. Signs of low iron levels, or anemia, include fatigue, muscle weakness and in extreme cases can leave you with shortness of breath and chest pains. It is important to have your doctor perform a serum ferritin test to check your iron levels. Do not try to self-diagnose or increase your iron levels on your own--leave that to your doctor or medical professionals. Too much iron in the body can be toxic and the body is not able to process or excrete excess amounts.
Iron can be found in many good food sources like beef, pork, lamb, fish, cooked beans, dark green vegetables, lentils, and fortified breads and cereals. As you can see, you don’t need to look hard to find iron in your diet.
Iron also plays a role in recovery for athletes as well. Iron assists with the production of new cells and your hormones which promote muscle growth and repair.
Iron is an important part of an athlete’s diet. From the competitive athlete to the recreational athlete, iron is necessary in aiding in both performance, recovery, and wards off chronic fatigue and muscle weakness. Ask your doctor at your next well visit to check your iron levels so you will have a baseline. A Sports Nutritionist can help you in creating iron dense meal plans.
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