Iron Supplements


Experience From - Bill Misner, Ph.D. , Lady G ,

Bill Misner, Ph.D.

While I do not oppose Iron supplements, too much vs. too little dietary Iron may be a double-edged sword for the high impact ultrarunner. Iron is an essential element in all cell metabolism and growth, but it may be toxic when let off the leash. Iron has the uncanny ability to switch back and forth between ferrous and feric oxide states as either a stron biological oxidant and/or reductant.

Free radical damage, which may be the mutant cause of cancer and is certainly the cause of fatigue following a long run, is produced by the hydroxyl radical(OH). Most of the (OH) produced comes from the iron-dependent reduction of H2O2. Too much Iron in the system may increase the risk of cancer in those predisposed, according to NHANES I data. Other date show an increased risk to coronary events. Women tend to run the risk of iron-poverty more than men. The daily dietary RDA requirement of 10-15 mg. per day is generally met by a well-balanced American diet inclusive of a minimal 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables, 2-4 slices of enriched bread, in a macronutrient caloric profile of 60% carbohydrates, 25% fat, and 15% protein. Hb blood serum values below 13 may be an early indication to query your personal physician as to whether or not to increase supplemental Iron intake.

Most of us get too much, in my opinion.

Lady G

For what it is worth here is mine. About 10 years ago I had just finished doing a 24 hour ultra and the day after had an appointment to give blood. They wouldn't take it because they said my iron level was so low that I was borderline anemic. Naturally, I rushed right off to the doc who took the necessary blood test, etc., etc. The results came back perfectly normal. He told me that women have a tendency to use iron and lose it faster then a man and especially during strenuous physical exercise. He told me to try taking an extra iron supplement about every four hours during my ultra. I did and noticed that my recovery time was much faster. Then came menopause. I had read many articles stating that menopausal women do not need as much iron so I stopped taking the supplement. Last August I was diagnosed as anemic and my doc informed me that what I had read was ok for non-active women but not for me. Once again I went on the supplements and started feeling great again within a few days.

Yesterday, Bill had posted saying that to much iron could result in tiredness after a workout. This is most true. Until the doc told me to go back to pre-menopause iron supplements I did notice an unusual amount of fatigue after a workout.