Iron is essential for the transportation and utilization for oxygen, so it is critical to a have adequate amounts of iron in the diet to optimize physical performance. Because exercise, particularly running, can contribute to iron loss it particularly important for athletes and people who exercise frequently to eat high iron foods as part of the diet (1).
Iron is an essential nutrient that is important component of red blood cells. Its primary role is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When an adult does not include sufficient amounts of iron rich foods in their diet, they may develop an iron deficiency which causes weakness, lethargy and muscle fatigue. An adequate iron intake is also essential for normal function of the immune system (2).
Fortunately with a healthy balanced diet, an iron deficiency can be avoided. The following tips can help increase iron intake and prevent deficiency.
- Include iron rich foods in the diet such as seafood, beef, poultry, eggs, dried beans, oatmeal, wheat bran, spinach and nuts.
- Iron from an animal source is absorbed better than iron from a plant, so if a person vegetarian it is important that they eat an increased amount of vegetables that are high iron.
- Eat cereals and juices that have been iron fortified.
- Vitamin C promotes the absorption of iron, so it is beneficial to eat foods such as citrus fruits or juices, broccoli, brussels sprouts and tomatoes in combination with foods that are high in iron.
While iron deficiencies maybe a common problem, we can stay alert and ward off fatigue by eating a balanced diet which includes foods that are high in iron
- Williams. Nutrition for Healthy, Fitness and sport. New York, NY 2005
- Mahan, Escott-Stump. Krause’s Food, Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Pennsylvania, 2004.
Melissa Black RD, CD