Iron Supplementation for Female Athletes: Effects on Iron Status and Performance Outcomes.
Authors: DellaValle, D.M.
Current Sports Medicine Reports (2013); 12(4), 234-239.
Reviewed by Heather Hynes
This review article highlights the current research regarding iron status within the athletic population and the impact that iron deficiency may have on aerobic performance. The author identifies the need for specific cut off blood values for both male and female athletes; noting that the clinical blood markers for iron deficiency may be too low. An athlete’s performance may already be compromised even if their lab values, specifically hemoglobin and serum ferritin, are within the normal range. The current recommended daily allowances (RDA) for iron are also discussed; they are currently set at 18mg/day for healthy premenopausal females. Additional research is needed with the athletic population to identify if this RDA is appropriate due to the additional stress placed on the body with physical training. Ideal iron supplementation protocols are discussed and the available research conducted with an athletic population is presented. The author concludes by stating the importance of ongoing monitoring of an athlete’s blood values. Athletes and coaches need to be aware of the health concerns with iron overload and that all iron supplementation protocols should be assessed by a health professional.