Low Iron and Female Athletes 

Each year we have 1 or 2 girls who become anemic from low iron, essentially ending their cross country season. In an effort to prevent this as well as educate young women about their bodies, I’ve found it helpful to send information early in the season so families can speak to their health care professional about a blood test or an iron supplement.

Why Is Iron So Important?

Iron is an element that is an essential part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the tissues. If you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t make hemoglobin, and your muscles won’t perform their best. Ferritin is a marker of total iron stores in the body. A simple blood test will tell if ferritin levels are low. Studies have shown 90% of female endurance athletes have low ferritin. Symptoms are low energy and chronic fatigue.

What Can You Do?

  • See your health care professional. Ask about a blood test or an iron supplement.
  • Vitamin C can help with iron absorption.
  • A multi vitamin can really help growing young bodies.

Check the resource health library at UW Medicine for more information.
– Coach Donna

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