Without the proper amount of iron, your body just doesn’t perform the way it should. No one may know this better than athletes. But, it’s also possible to have too much iron in your blood. Below, we’ll dive into the facts about iron, and when you should consider taking supplements to ensure that you’re getting the most from your workouts and your body.
What is Iron?
To put it simply, iron is a mineral that the body needs in order to make red blood cells, help cells release energy, and as a myoglobin that moves oxygen through the muscles and blood. Without the proper amount of iron in your body, none of those processes work correctly. This can lead to lack of energy, anemia, and a higher chance of muscle damage during workouts. Temperature intolerance can occur as well, making it harder for the person to regulate their body temperature to be comfortable in both hot and cold environments.
How Can I Get Enough Iron?
Chances are, if you’re eating a diet high in protein, containing items like red meat, fish, clams, and oysters, then you’re getting the daily dose of iron needed to keep your body running smoothly. You can also get a respectable amount of iron from certain nonheme iron plant foods like green leafy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. But, if you tend to do high intensity workouts more than 3 times a week, you may want to consider an iron supplement to go with that diet. High impact exercise can cause the body to go through iron quickly. Many multivitamins contain iron supplements, or you can get the supplements on their own in varying doses. The trick here is to start at a lower dose, and see if that does the trick. Remember, too much iron can leave you feeling awful just as much as too little can.
Is there Anything I Should Avoid When Using Iron Supplements?
As with any supplement, there are certain things that will make them less effective and will hinder your body’s absorption of them. One such culprit is coffee. Coffee makes it much harder for your body to absorb iron, but coffee lovers don’t freak out just yet! As long as you drink your coffee at least an hour before you take your supplement, you have nothing to worry about. All in moderation!
Medications can slow and even stop iron absorption as well. If you’re taking ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure, for instance, you may find it harder to absorb the amount of iron you need. Antibiotics like Vibramycin, Sumycin, Minocin, Cipro, Levaquin, and Noroxin can all make it difficult for your body to absorb the iron that it needs. Even over the counter medications such as Zantac and Prilosec have been found to slow down iron absorption. The best thing to do in this instance is speak with your doctor and see what dosage of iron supplement would best help you compensate for this lowered iron absorption.