LET'S TALK IRON
You've probably heard of it, and also heard of where it's found - people often say Guinness is a good source! However, it only contains 0.3mg of Iron, just 3% of the recommended intake meaning you'd need 29 pints to hit the daily intake, which might just about outweigh the positives. Iron is a mineral found in proteins called haemoglobin located in red blood cells within the bloodstream.
Importance of iron:
Oxygen transportation and increase VO2 max
Assist in energy production
Assists body’s natural defence system
Improve menstrual regularity
Maintaining a positive iron balance is essential to avoid the effects of iron deficiency and anaemia and to maintain or improve performance. Although Iron deficiency can occur in males it is most prevalent in menstruating females.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency include:
Increased levels of tiredness
Increase risk of infections
Shortness of breath
Impact on cognitive task performance
Public Health General recommendation:
Adolescent (11-18 years) 14.8mg (girls) and 11.3mg (boys)
Adult males (18+) and non menstruating adult females (over 50) 8.7mg
Menstruating females (19-50 years) 14.8mg
Iron requirements vary from person to person depending on various factors however those at greatest risk are individuals:
With a low energy intake,
Following vegetarian/ vegan diets,
Athletes, particularly endurance
Menstruating or pregnant females
Iron in lost through:
Inflammatory responses from exercise
Muscle contraction e.g. eccentric muscle damage during exercise
Red cell destruction through increased pounding of feet on ground during exercise e.g. foot strike.
As Iron is lost in various ways it is important athletes aim to maximise their dietary iron consumption to prevent iron deficiency.
How is iron deficiency diagnosed?
It is diagnosed through blood tests, therefore if a deficiency is suspected speak to your Doctor. Replenishing iron levels through dietary is the recommended method.
It is NEVER advised to take iron supplementation on a self-diagnosis of iron deficiency.
Where do we get iron from?
Iron comes from our diet and is classified into 2 categories; haem iron (absorbed easier by the body) and non-haem iron (less easily absorbed).
Haem iron is found in animal sources e.g. Red meat (richest source), pork, fish, poultry, eggs.
Non-haem iron is found in plant sources e.g. Beans, pulses, tofu, figs, nuts, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin C assists with the absorption of non-haem iron in the digestive tract. Therefore, eating these foods together (Vitamin C with non-haem iron foods) increases the amount of iron absorbed in the body helping minimise the risk of an iron deficiency.
If possible try to incorporate an animal (haem) source at meal times.
Eat Vitamin C and non-heam sources together e.g. squeezing lemon on dark green leafy vegetables, or orange juice with breakfast.
Try incorporating iron fortified foods such as breakfast cereals in the morning or as a snack between training sessions.
Avoid tea/coffee at meal times (try to wait at least 30 minutes after meals).
Try a handful of dried fruit/ nuts as snack between meals or incorporate into meals e.g. Porridge/ breakfast cereals/curries.
If concerned regarding iron deficiency speak to your GP.
If you'd like to know more about Iron, and how to incorporate it into your diet better, check out @theperformanceplate on Instagram and drop her a message.
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