Tag Archives: iron-deficiency anemia

Anemia and Athletic Performance

26 Sep

athlete-fatigue[1]Recently, a friend and client (and committed fitness enthusiast) shared with me her disappointment in her recent running performance.  Although she is very active and fit, she was beating herself up for “being a slug when it came to running” (believe me, when it comes to exercise, that’s the last word you’d use to describe this lady).  It turns out that there was a reason for her feeling of fatigue… her hemoglobin was 8 (hemoglobin is the iron-carrying protein found in red blood cells that binds to oxygen; the principal function of hemoglobin is to combine and transport oxygen from the lungs to all body tissues, including working muscles; the amount of hemoglobin in the blood averages between 12 and 16 grams/100 milliliters of blood in adult females).

A drop in athletic performance or a general feeling of  fatigue may indicate you are suffering from anemia, a condition in  which the production and amount of your red blood cells is below normal.  An  adequate supply of these red blood cells is essential to physical activity and overall well-being. A low red blood cell count means less oxygen is being  delivered to working muscles. Because oxygen is essential to burn the calories used by muscles in aerobic exercise, this can have a direct effect on your ability to perform.  Ultimately, anemia will impact your training and performance.

One common  cause of anemia in women is a lack of iron in their diet. Women need nearly  twice as much iron as men (18 milligrams/day compared with 10 mg/day) because of  menstrual blood loss. Heavy  exercise may also increase iron needs by up to another 1 to 2 milligrams/day.

Many  factors contribute to a risk of becoming anemic. These factors may include a diet low in  iron. To get enough iron in your diet and reduce your chances of developing  iron-deficiency anemia, you can eat foods that are naturally rich in iron, such  as red meat, fish, or beans; or consume foods that have been enriched with iron, such as some cereals and pastas. Iron supplements, along with a diet high in iron, may also be helpful to correct the problem.

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Ladies, Check Your Iron

28 Jan

220[1]Ladies, if you’re experiencing excessive or unusual fatigue and lack of energy, low iron could be the cause.

This one hits a little close to home.

First, some history:  My youngest daughter is a junior basketball player at our local high school.  After getting off to a pretty good start, last (2014) AAU season, she seemed to “run out of gas” toward the end of the season (mid-summer).  I attributed it to long high school and AAU seasons, and figured she just needed a break.

During the fall (2014) season, my daughter seemed to lack her usual energy.  Although she rarely complains about anything, she talked with me about “feeling tired all the time.”  Historically, she has always had very good cardiovascular endurance, and is very fast.  She seemed to lack her usual energy, speed, and quickness.  As the fall season progressed, she also experienced shortness of breath during her games, which led to a diagnosis of exercise-induced asthma, and a prescription for an inhaler.  The inhaler helped her feel a little better, but didn’t change much regarding her energy level, based on her feelings and my observation.

Fast forward to the high school season:  My daughter continued to use her inhaler, but also continued to describe a feeling of constant fatigue.  She has started and played big minutes, and helped her team to a pretty good season, so far.  Still, I know my kid, and she has not played with her usual energy, all season.

Finally, last Monday, my daughter had a blood test (something we should have done months ago), and the results were shocking:

  • Hemoglobin (transports oxygen in the blood) = 7.7 (normal range = 12-16)
  • Iron (carries oxygen to the tissue) count = 13 (normal range = 30-140)
  • Ferritin (stores iron in the tissue) level = 3.7 (normal range = 9-150)

Clinically, she has been diagnosed with what her physician thinks is probably iron-deficiency anemia (her other blood test parameters were normal).  Her physician is astounded that she can function with any semblance of normalcy (in the physician’s words, “stand up without falling down”), let alone play basketball.

My daughter has started taking an iron supplement and, although her diet is pretty good, she will also increase her consumption of iron-rich foods (e.g., red meat; pork, poultry; seafood; beans; dark leafy green vegetables, such as spinach; dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots; iron-fortified cereals, breads, and pastas).  There are no medical limitations or restrictions on her activity, and she can continue to do everything she has been doing.  Her condition is probably also responsible for her shortness of breath and, once her iron level is normalized (which will take a few weeks), the need for an inhaler will probably be alleviated.  As her blood levels of hemoglobin, iron, and ferritin increase, her energy and endurance should return, as well.

I post this blog as a public service and — hopefully — as a way to increase education and awareness, especially since we train hundreds of female athletes and fitness clients.  If you or someone you know are experiencing excessive or unusual fatigue and lack of energy, please talk with your physician or encourage them to do the same.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Anemia and Athletic Performance

15 Jul

athlete-fatigue[1]Recently, a friend and client (and committed fitness enthusiast) shared with me her disappointment in her recent running performance.  Although she is very active and fit, she was beating herself up for “being a slug when it came to running” (believe me, when it comes to exercise, that’s the last word you’d use to describe this lady).  It turns out that there was a reason for her feeling of fatigue… her hemoglobin was 8 (hemoglobin is the iron-carrying protein found in red blood cells that binds to oxygen; the principal function of hemoglobin is to combine and transport oxygen from the lungs to all body tissues, including working muscles; the amount of hemoglobin in the blood averages between 12 and 16 grams/100 milliliters of blood in adult females).

A drop in athletic performance or a general feeling of  fatigue may indicate you are suffering from anemia, a condition in  which the production and amount of your red blood cells is below normal.  An  adequate supply of these red blood cells is essential to physical activity and overall well-being. A low red blood cell count means less oxygen is being  delivered to working muscles. Because oxygen is essential to burn the calories used by muscles in aerobic exercise, this can have a direct effect on your ability to perform.  Ultimately, anemia will impact your training and performance.

One common  cause of anemia in women is the lack of iron in their diet. Women need nearly  twice as much iron as men (18 milligrams/day compared with 10 mg/day) because of  menstrual blood loss. Heavy  exercise may also increase iron needs by up to another 1 to 2 milligrams/day.

Many  factors contribute to your risk of becoming anemic. They include a diet low in  iron. To get enough iron in your diet and reduce your chances of developing  iron-deficiency anemia, you can eat foods that are naturally rich in iron, such  as red meat, fish, or beans; or consume foods that have been enriched with iron, such as some cereals and pastas. Iron supplements, along with a diet high in iron, may also be helpful to correct the problem.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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