Iron (Fe) and sports

Iron (Fe) and sports

1/ WHERE DO YOU FIND IRON?

The food products that contain the most iron are blood sausages, pork liver, poultry and lamb, kidneys, dried meat, mussels, oysters, beef.

2/ IRON AND SPORT 

- Iron plays a role in normal energy metabolism;

- Iron plays a role in the normal formation of red blood cells and haemoglobin;

- Iron plays a role in the normal transportation of oxygen in the body;

- Iron plays a role in the normal operation of the immune system;

- Iron plays a role in reducing fatigue.

- One of the problems of iron metabolism is its low absorption rate (2 to 10% of the ingested iron is absorbed). The major part of the body iron (70%) is in the form of heme iron (associated with red blood cells). It is better absorbed than iron of vegetable origin, called "non-heme iron". This is why meats are the best sources of iron (particularly red meat).

3/ IRON REQUIREMENT

The recommended nutritional intake is 9mg/day for men, 16mg/day for menstruating women and 15 to 20 mg/day for sports competitors.

4/ IRON DEFICIENCY AND ENDURANCE SPORTS

Iron is involved in the production of haemoglobin. In the event of a deficiency, haemoglobin synthesis is slowed down, leading to smaller red blood cells that contain less haemoglobin and are less good at transporting oxygen. This is referred to as iron-deficiency anaemia.

Iron deficiencies are common in endurance athletes, most particularly in women athletes. The sport that causes the most iron deficiencies and anaemias is long-distance running.

CAUSES OF AN IRON DEFICIENCY: 

- The destruction of the red blood cells: shocks in the blood vessels, shockwave caused by running, etc.

- The digestive micro-haemorrhages caused by the physical effort made and dehydration

- An unbalanced diet;

- Menstruation in women.

Marie Fauchille

"Dietician-Nutritionist, passionate about multisport/adventure racing and rowing"

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