Have you been ticking all the boxes where a healthy lifestyle’s concerned but find yourself exhausted throughout the day, fatigued after only minutes of exercise or constantly ready for a nap? You may be lacking in iron, one of the body’s essential nutrients, and if you’re a female, there’s an even higher chance low iron could be the culprit! Today we take a closer look at why iron is so important, and how it may be affecting your workout results and more.
Iron is one of the key minerals our bodies require to operate optimally, and plays an important role in transporting oxygen throughout the body. If your body is low in iron, you won’t be producing enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells, which can result in a host of exercise and fatigue-related problems such as memory loss, concentration issues and even a lowered immune response.
Exercise-boosting iron is found in a range of foods, such as meat and meat products, pulses (such as peas and lentils) and dark leafy greens. Scientists have found that iron is absorbed especially well when combined with sources of Vitamin C (particularly when iron is in being eaten in plant-based forms) so next time you’re serving up your daily iron why not pair it with something rich in Vitamin C like lemon, sweet potato or spinach for maximum absorption.
Imagine undertaking your regular workout at high altitude, where you’re exposed to much lower levels of oxygen. You would feel incredibly fatigued, light headed and out of breath in no time! Well, having low iron is putting your internal systems through a similar experience, so when you exercise you aren’t able to perform as you should.
Scientists say that on average women should be consuming 18 grams of iron each day, while men only require an average of 8 grams! So ladies, whether you regularly exercise or not, be sure to include plenty of iron-rich foods at mealtimes.
How do you make sure you’re getting enough iron each day? Do you find your exercise performance improve if you boost your iron intake?