Iron is one of the essential minerals that our bodies need in order to function well. Iron’s most important role is in helping to make red blood cells, which transport the oxygen around our bodies – essential when we’re exercising. If you have fewer red blood cells, your organs and muscles won’t get as much oxygen as they need to perform optimally.
Men require 8.7mg of iron a day and women need 14.8mg of iron. If you’re eating a well balanced diet then you should be meeting your daily iron needs without too much trouble. Foods rich in iron include broccoli, greens, beans, nuts and dried fruits such as apricots. However, if you’re female, vegan or vegetarian, a runner or less able to absorb iron from your food, perhaps due to a B12 or folate deficiency, then you are more likely to suffer from iron deficiency anaemia and could benefit from supplementation.
Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia and is characterized by:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Pale complexion
These symptoms may develop gradually, as it can take decades for your iron to fall to anaemic levels. If you have any concerns then your GP can perform a simple blood test to check your iron levels. Other types of anaemia can be caused by a lack of B12 or folate and again, your GP will be able to test to determine if you fall into this category.
Taking supplements such as the Elite Woman Super Multi-vitamin will help to restore your iron levels, as will a pure iron supplement. Replenishing your iron stores may take a few weeks or a few months, depending on how low they were to begin with, but you should feel the benefit quite quickly. It’s also to get B12 supplements however the vitamin is found in many fortified breakfast cereals, chickpeas, broccoli and products such as Soy Protein, Pre-Works, Advanced Oats and Breakfast Fuel i-Shakes.
Please note that unless you do have a confirmed iron deficiency, be wary of taking supplements as a “just in case” precaution. The side effects of taking high doses (over 20mg) of iron include:
- Stomach pain