Research Review: Iron Deficiency

Research Review: Iron Deficiency

Hey everyone! I wanted to do another research review because I found this topic to be really interesting and relatable.  Iron deficiency and anemia is a common issue for females even if you don't know you suffer from it.  This topic really sparked my interest because I know a few people with iron deficiency or anemia and I wanted to learn a little bit more about it!  The article I am summarizing is from the Strength and Conditioning Journal Published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and it was written by Erica R. Goldstein, a clinical dietitian.

The first thing you should know is that being anemic means that your blood does not carry enough oxygen to your body, the most common cause of anemia is being iron deficient.  Iron is used to make hemoglobin, which gives blood its red coloring, it is used to carry the oxygen through your body (National Library of Medicine).


So iron is clearly a very important nutrient for us, it is even more important for athletic performance.  If you think about it that makes sense because without iron we wouldn't be able to transport oxygen, without oxygen our muscles don't work and we can't exercise (or do anything really) if our muscles aren't working.  Our bodies can also be affected if we do not get the proper amounts of iron, this means our athletic performance and workouts will also suffer.

Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency:



-Vulnerability to Infection

-Dyspnea (shortness of breath)


-Decreased Athletic Performance

Clearly, no one wants to be iron deficient because it not only effects athletic performance and exercise, but it can start to have a negative effect on your daily activities as well.

Some people may be at an increased risk of becoming iron deficient, these people are:

-People with inadequate consumption of iron (often vegetarians or vegans)

-Endurance athletes

-Females of reproductive age especially those with heavy menstrual cycles

-People who do high intensity endurance training, specifically those with increased foot striking (running)


Food Sources of Iron:









There are more, but this seemed like a pretty good list to start.  Iron from animal sources is better because it is more easily absorbed into the body and used.  There is a lot of information about nutrient timing and when to eat foods and what to combine it with.  If you are more interested in that I suggest talking to a nutrition expert.




Take away:

Iron deficiency is a relatively common issue and one that can have a serious effect on performance.  This issue is important to me because many times attention is given to athletes or those who are training for something where this issue will effect their performance.  However, there are so many people out there that exercise intensely, and regularly and although athletic performance is not a goal, general performance is a goal and completing high intensity workouts is a goal.

Just because you are not an 'athlete' does not mean you don't work just as hard as an athlete and it certainly does not mean you don't have to fuel your body like one.  Nutrition is a key component in reaching your physical goals and nutrition goes beyond just counting calories and macros.  Vitamins and minerals are so important to our health and function and many times they are overlooked because we think they don't directly relate to our body composition.

I'm not saying go crazy and log your food like a nut case and have your blood drawn once a month.  I just want you to be aware, seek help from a professional if you think you may be suffering from iron deficiency.  Do anything and everything you can to treat your body well and make sure it functions to the best of it's ability.

Thanks for reading 🙂