Iron is the mineral responsible for delivering oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. Less than optimal levels of iron can significantly diminish athletic performance and energy leves. Severe iron loss results in a reduction of red blood cells (known as anemia), but it is important to realize that you doe not have to be anemic to be suffering from low iron. Surprisingly, 15% of male athletes and over 60% of all female athletes are have this problem. Iron levels can be rapidly depleted by sweat loss and the destruction of red cells from the impact of running and other higher impact activities.
High iron stores is a problem because at moderately elevated levels, excess iron can cause inflammation and cause free radical damage that increases your risk of diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and heart disease. While at very high levels, excessive iron levels can cause liver damage, diabetes and vascular disease. Because of this risk, we strongly recommend that men avoid iron supplements and iron-fortified foods unless measured ferritin levels confirm the need for iron.
Signs of low iron storage include:
• Poor performance and delayed recovery
• Increased fatigue or lethargy
• Sore or heavy legs
• Susceptibility to infection
• Irritability or low motivation
• Ice cravings
• Feeling colder than those around you
Please note: The panel includes serum iron, total iron binding capacity (TIBC) and ferritin and requires a blood draw at a Lab Corp facility. This service is not available in the states of NY, NJ or RI.