Bodybuilders pump it, but do they get enough of it?
According to a recent study, more athletes have lower blood iron levels than sedentary folk.
The trace element iron plays key roles in a number of cellular processes including DNA synthesis, oxygen transportation, and energy production/distribution within the electron transport system. As you can imagine, cell regeneration, oxygen transport and energy production are vital to peak performance and achieving optimum results from training. Therefore iron is a critical nutrient for both male and female athletes.
Athletes and other active people are supposed to be “health conscious” and eat better than the norm. However, this study reported up to 35% of people who exercise regularly, have low iron stores, compared to just 8% of the general population.
The reason for this deficiency is multi-faceted. Firstly, exercise damages cells, including blood cells that carry the very limited supply of iron around our body. Secondly, supplementation with this mineral is tricky – the body does not have a mechanism by which to excrete excess iron, repeated high doses can cause rather serious adverse effects. In fact, it can be fatal.
Yes, you can poison yourself by swallowing too much iron. Therefore, mega-dosing (as is the mindset of most bodybuilders) isn’t a good solution when it comes to iron supplementation.
Below are some interesting facts that will help you ensure your needs for this trace element are met safely and effectively.
Meat and fish contain heme iron which is the best form for maintaining blood stores. Plants and vegetables contain non-heme iron. And the absorption of non-heme iron often depends on the food balance in meals.
Vitamin-C rich foods will enhance absorption of iron. So a small glass of orange juice with a steak or fish meal will help your body absorb the iron it needs. Foods containing riboflavin (vitamin B2) may help enhance the response of hemoglobin to iron. Most flesh foods contain B2. Broccoli and legumes are rich plant sources.
Vegetarians who exclude all animal products from their diet may need almost twice as much dietary iron each day as non-vegetarians because of the lower intestinal absorption of non-heme iron in plant foods.
The most precise way to safe-guide your limited iron stores is to take a ultra-high quality multi-mineral complex. Normal gastric acid secretion is necessary to help absorb iron. That’s why I recommend taking MultiPro 32x with the morning and evening meal.
Source: NSCA performance training journal 2009.