The food we consume as runners is our fuel. When it comes to our nutrition as runners we often have a high focus on our macronutrients, specifically, carbohydrates and protein, but micronutrients are necessary, too and unfortunately sometimes we overlook them. This article will focus on the importance of iron for runners. We know that iron is an essential micronutrient. Iron makes up our haemoglobin, which is found in our red blood cells. We need iron for a majority of our bodily functions, with the most well-known function of iron being that it transports oxygen throughout our bodies.

Symptoms of Low Iron in Runners
When we are low in iron we usually feel tired, fatigued and run down. Other symptoms include headaches, feeling dizzy and having heavier than normal periods. Low iron levels can also affect our immune systems too. Our running performances are also affected if we are low in iron. If we are low in iron we won’t be feeling our best, and without enough oxygen our muscles just won’t cooperate. Our red blood cells supply oxygen to our muscles and runners with low iron therefore have an increased risk of experiencing impaired muscle functioning too.

How Runners can Lose Iron
We know the importance of replenishing our fluid intake when we run due to loss of hydration from sweat. The same goes for micronutrients. When we go for a run we lose iron through sweating. Replacing this lost iron is therefore just as important as replacing our water loss.

Recommended Food Sources that are high in Iron
Consuming a well-balanced diet can help us consume adequate iron. Foods to include in your diet to help you do this include:
  • Red meat
  • Fortified cereals
  • Legumes and nuts
  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach
Those low in iron may also need to consider an iron supplement. However before taking any supplement it is recommend that you seek advice from your health care practitioner.