Do you often feel like you are needlessly fatigued?
Maybe you cannot run up hills like you used to be able to do?
Are you dragging yourself through your workouts?
If this sounds familiar, you certainly want to consult with your doctor and get your blood tested to rule out anemia. Because you are an athlete, ask your doctor to measure your serum ferritin. That’s your stored iron. The iron in your blood can be at a normal level but if your iron stores are depleted, you can feel needlessly tired during exercise.
• An estimate 50% of female athletes have iron-deficiency, as indicated by low serum ferritin stores. (In the general population of women, about 14% are iron deficient.)
• A study with college-age male runners suggests that 21% of male cross-country and distance runners had low serum ferritin.
Just think how much better all of these athletes could perform if they were not iron-deficient!
These days, many athletes are avoiding red meat (an excellent source of iron), and they have stopped eating iron-enriched breakfast cereals. That is, they have traded their Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (enriched with iron) for an “all natural” brand of cereal, such as Kashi, that has nothing added to it—including no iron. No wonder their iron stores are low!
To prevent anemia, you want to enjoy iron-rich foods on a daily basis. Red meat is one of the best sources of iron, but if you are a non-meat eater, other common sources of iron include dark meat chicken (legs, thighs) and iron-enriched breakfast cereals. Include a fruit and/or vegetable (rich in vitamin C) with each meal to enhance iron absorption. Taking supplemental iron (as in a multi-vitamin/mineral pill) can help reduce the risk of becoming anemic if you do not eat red meat or iron-enriched breakfast cereals.
What happens to vitamins? Do we need to replenish them every day because they get flushed out of our bodies and down the toilet?
And in the course of a bout of exercise, which of them can contribute to a decline in performance? That is, are they removed from the point of use?
Heres what this athlete needs to know about vitamins.
First off, vitamins are like spark plugs in a car. They get recycled and re-used.
As humans, we can store vitamins in our body--in the liver. (Thats why liver is so nutritious, for people who enjoy eating chicken livers or beef liver). A healthy person has about a six-week supply of Vitamin C, and a several months supply of vitamin A.
If you fail to eat the RDA for a certain vitamin on one day, you will not become deficient overnight.
The goal is to eat well over the course of the week, month, and year, so you can consume the vitamins you need from food. One day of poor eating will not hurt your performance.
A decline in performance is more likely due to lack of fuel (from carbohydrates) or lack of water--but not lack of vitamins in an athlete who eats adequately (as opposed to restricts food intake). The exception is the common deficiency of iron, which can lead to iron deficiency anemia.
By eating colorful vegetables, a variety of fruits, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy, you can consume both the vitamins you need for spark lugs and the carbs you need for fuel to excel.