Taking iron improves women's exercise performance

April 13, 2014 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Sports Nutrition and Exercise, Women's Health

Taking iron improves women's exercise performance

A new study from the University of Melbourne has found that women who take iron supplements, experience a marked improvement in their exercise performance.

For the study, researchers undertook a systematic review and analysis of the effect of iron supplementation to the exercise performance of women in childbearing years.

Iron supplementation improved women's exercise performance, in terms of both the highest level they could achieve at 100% exertion (maximal capacity) and their exercise efficiency at a submaximal exertion. Women who were given iron were able to perform a given exercise using a lower heart rate and at a higher efficiency.

This was mainly seen in women who had been iron deficient or anemic at the beginning of the trial and in women who were specifically training, including in elite athletes.

It is the first time researchers have been able to confirm that iron supplementation has beneficial effects on exercise performance.

The researchers said, "It may be worthwhile screening women, including women training as elite athletes, for iron deficiency, and ensuring they receive appropriate prevention and treatment strategies. Athletes, especially females, are at increased risk of iron deficiency potentially, due to their diets and inflammation caused by excessive exercise."

Other studies have shown that women given iron experience improved work productivity.

In addition, this study confirms that iron deficiency can impair exercise performance in women. Iron deficiency can also produce fatigue and lethargy and eventually result in iron deficiency anemia.

Source: Journal of Nutrition, April 2014.

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