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Iron is essential for both athletes and non athletes because it is a part of hemoglobin which is found in all red blood cells. This means that iron can greatly influence your ability to carry and transport oxygen around the body. So, if you are low on iron, or iron deficient, this can actually impair your exercise capacity .
For athletes, it is important to note that your body can actually lose iron through sweat, muscle use, and even minor GI bleeding that occurs during intense training sessions.
For pre menopausal women, potential iron loss is increased because hemoglobin is lost during menstruation. Thus, female athletes can be three times more likely to suffer from anemia, or the deficiency of hemoglobin in red blood cells .
For vegetarians, the risk for iron deficiency is also greater because the body cannot absorb plant-based sources of iron as easily as animal product based sources of iron . Check out our blog post HERE that dives into iron supplementation for vegans and vegetarians.
Iron can have a major impact on your training and performance levels. This is why it is crucial that you track your iron levels when lab testing. This will also help you be certain if you need to supplement with iron or not.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is another important biomarker to track because it influences the function of red blood cells. Research has shown that Vitamin B12 is correlated with hemoglobin synthesis – As we mentioned above, hemoglobin is essential for oxygen transport around the body. So Vitamin B12 deficiency can impair your performance because you are unable to optimally oxygenate your body.
For vegetarians or plant-based athletes, the risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency is increased because most of Vitamin B12 comes from animal products such as meat, milk, and cheese. That’s not to say that it is impossible to get a dose of Vitamin B12 if you are vegan– Foods like nutritional yeast or fortified foods like cereals could offer a source, however, oftentimes supplements are necessary.
Even then, it is important to note that excess Vitamin B12 can also cause unwanted consequences such as dizziness and anxiety.
So, in order to know whether you need to supplement or just eat more of certain foods, be sure to get your labs tested!
Learn more about Vitamin B12 and athletic performance HERE.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in many of your body’s physiological pathways, but did you know that it is also directly related to athletic performance? Research shows that Vitamin D can actually promote protein synthesis to help increase muscle mass and decrease muscle degradation .
For most individuals, being out in the sun for at least 20 minutes a day can actually help maintain Vitamin D levels. However, the sun isn’t shining everyday, so sometimes Vitamin D supplements are necessary to reach optimal levels. To avoid over supplementation, it is important to get your labs tested so you know if you need to adjust your lifestyle or diet.
If you are looking for a vitamin D supplement, we recommend Thorne Vitamin D-5000 to many of our clients. If you sign up with Wellevate, our online supplement dispensary, you will receive 20% off MSRP all supplements!
Learn more about Vitamin D, and how it can help you recover from soft tissue injuries HERE.
Learn more about Vitamin D, and how it can influence your gut HERE.
Need your labs tested?
Check out InsideTracker and use the code “NUTRITIONALREV” to save 20% off when you get your labs tested! Click HERE to get started!
- Hinton P. S. (2014). Iron and the endurance athlete. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme, 39(9), 1012–1018. https://doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2014-0147
- DeLoughery T. G. (2017). Iron Deficiency Anemia. The Medical clinics of North America, 101(2), 319–332. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2016.09.004
- Krzywański, J., Mikulski, T., Pokrywka, A., Młyńczak, M., Krysztofiak, H., Frączek, B., & Ziemba, A. (2020). Vitamin B12 Status and Optimal Range for Hemoglobin Formation in Elite Athletes. Nutrients, 12(4), 1038. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12041038
- Żebrowska, A., Sadowska-Krępa, E., Stanula, A., Waśkiewicz, Z., Łakomy, O., Bezuglov, E., Nikolaidis, P. T., Rosemann, T., & Knechtle, B. (2020). The effect of vitamin D supplementation on serum total 25(OH) levels and biochemical markers of skeletal muscles in runners. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 17(1), 18. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-020-00347-8
- InsideTracker: https://info.insidetracker.com/e3t/Ctc/RC+113/c2G-L04/VWNGN04lXH4DW98L51n9fnNlhW7gFL9V4J48mlN6pj1XG3q3phV1-WJV7CgZ8BW8Wsfmt8mYyjJW8c-0HJ12L07lW4L9KRP6pMgSWW7PcyT51M6YKMW2372_81g9019W4TrYCr3fRM8sW8jQ_N38Qw3RYW7_SD3x6QHwPPW999dRD3Ynz41W8yF7pZ5JkQ5HN2DNRkPMLmVcW4SHSyb914SfWW1J3LC_3NW0rBN9dCkG3GMx10W7vHC-Z79-hpMW5RtRVC8yc3J5W7cPWn08qhM3YW4pfVvB1nbFLXW7D7bfl1-CvqGW6by1Qw1M373tN1c88t0nTtYKW3SYpS515qdBBW56zMbN3WfJWRW3bssv-6TTnq-W1fYXsV8g3qHgW3Px6JZ2081FMN8YsH9p7Hv–W5dT9967l8WsJ37MZ1