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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    31

    Iron woman! Women, exercise, and iron

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    I've struggled with problems with running out of energy on hills for years, despite doing hill intervals, using a heart-rate monitor to train in the correct zones, etc. But I think I've found the answer.

    This year, when I was totally exhausted for weeks at the end of the cross-country ski season (my favorite sport), I went to see my doctor. Everything was normal except for low blood iron. Not anemia, just low iron. This has been a regular problem off and on, and I hadn't taken low iron or even mild anemia too seriously.

    But this time I did some web research and found reliable-seeming sources that stated that heavy exercise can deplete women's iron reserves, low blood iron can adversely affect athletic performance (duh, I should have known this one!), and coffee can interfere with iron absorption. It all suddenly fit together for this coffeeholic lousy hill-climbing tired at the end of every xc ski season woman.

    I have decreased my coffee consumption, and started taking iron supplements daily with vitamin C (and a couple hours after or before any coffee or calcium). And, I'm doing great! Hills I used to suffer on are getting much easier; I don't feel like I'm going to puke, pass out, and have my thighs burn off. I rode up a challenging hill that I've ridden before today, at 6,500 feet altitude, and I was fine!!!!

    My doctor has pooh-poohed my web findings. Has anybody else had similar experiences, or is anyone a health-care professional who can verify what I found on the web and have experienced? (I think it may be time to find a doctor who will take my input more seriously, too.) Any further info re iron and exercise would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    160
    Your doctor doesn't understand iron supplementation for female athletes? I'd get a new doctor!!!

    There's pleanty of crap out there on the internet about supplements, but iron is a well known thing...the Friel Cyclist's Training Bible recommends that all women get their iron tested and have supplementatin supervised by a doctor, and he's as mainstream as it gets in cycling.

    If you're into serious training, you should buy a copy of the "bible," or just read that section standing in Barnes and Nobles-he has a bibliography to each chapter that might have more info.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Asheville, NC
    Posts
    680
    Thank you for sharing your findings! I have always suffered with low iron ("suffer" is a little harsh) I have been turned down many times trying to give blood because it was too low, i even took suppliments for a week before a blood drive and it was too HIGH...I must be on the border-line

    I am a coffe drinker and a newly reformed excersice freak...i new something like that was happening but just never took the time to research it...i seem to be more lathargic during that time more-so than the rest of the month. I am going to look more into how I can regulate it and cut back on my coffee so I can "hang" a little better on those group rides

    Thanks

    Keep pedaling!!!!!
    I am a nobody; nobody is perfect, and therefore I am perfect.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    3,099
    I never had problems with iron in the past - but I also never exercised like I have this year. When I went to donate blood the last time, I just barely passed the iron test. The examiner even said if it didn't "sink" within the next so many seconds he was gonna have to pass on me. I had Never had that happen before. I wouldn't have said I was experiencing any other problems but I might've and just blown them off as allergies, or the weather, or menopause, or laziness! LOL I also did the research and I supplement now too.

    as a footnote: of the 4 women in my family (including me) I was the only one not on iron supplements. And I'm with Han-Grrl.....my tests always came back "low normal" but hey normal is normal right??
    Last edited by CorsairMac; 09-08-2005 at 09:45 AM.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming: "Yeah Baby! What a Ride!"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    719

    low iron

    I had been diagnosed with low iron last year...

    I was sleeping ALL the time. i couldn't get enough energy. I had my blood checked and the nurse said it was within normal limits. I had to findout what they meant. I was actually just within limits and certainly way too low for someone training for mtb racing. I went on iron supplements and started to feel way better. even emotionally. i was just more well, level headed. Because i was so exhausted i was also very emotional. so that is my little experience with low iron.
    "The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it."-Moliere

    "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." -Thomas A. Edison



    Shorty's Adventure - Blog

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    North Central Florida
    Posts
    3,387
    One good thing about the depo shot (well, besides not having a period!) is I don't have to worry about low iron any more. I used to have to supplement for a week before donating blood, but now I don't have to any more, ever.

    Nanci

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Middle Earth
    Posts
    3,997
    I see you are having Vit C supplements with your iron - most excellent because Vit C helps the body to absorb more iron than it would without the Vit C
    Have VitC rich foods or juices with every meal and that will help as will

    Good luck


    Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,
    "I will try again tomorrow".


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Off eating cake.
    Posts
    1,700
    And tea/coffee shortly before/after a meal will reduce your iron absorption.
    Drink coffee and do stupid things faster with more energy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    On my bike
    Posts
    2,510
    Quote Originally Posted by tlkiwi
    And tea/coffee shortly before/after a meal will reduce your iron absorption.
    Decaf too?
    To train a dog, you must be more interesting than dirt.

    Trek Project One
    Trek FX 7.4 Hybrid

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Middle Earth
    Posts
    3,997
    Caffeine is better for you than decaf... you know what they do to make coffee caffeine-less?

    *shudders*

    Drink coffe, not decaf, just not with your iron-rich food...


    Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,
    "I will try again tomorrow".


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Off eating cake.
    Posts
    1,700
    Well, I do know what we had to do to get the caffeine out of teabags in chem labs. Of course, we were trying to preserve the caffiene rather than the tea, but I doubt the solvents used are any less nasty. But I don't think about that - I come form the "if it ain't got caffeine in it I may as well drink some brown water" school of thought. I mean, Caffeine-free Diet Coke? What's left?
    Drink coffee and do stupid things faster with more energy.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Middle Earth
    Posts
    3,997
    caffeine free diet coke...



    scarey words, tl... scarey scarey words...



    Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,
    "I will try again tomorrow".


  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    42
    Would you talk a bit about what iron supplement you use? I was discovered to have anemia last summer, after I'd been on a daily walking program for a good year. It was so low that I was given iron infusions, with exploratory tests (lots of probing, no results) for the source of the "blood loss."

    I became convinced it was from the weight bearing ex of walking, as well as heavier than normal perimenopausal periods, and have tried to just eat better. My iron counts are now in the normal range, but low normal. I've never looked into a supplement because there were too many choices. My docs never suggested supplementing, saying it causes constipation (not my idea of a good time).

    So what works for you all? Apparently you're not living with constipation! And how did you determine what dose and what kind of iron to take?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    314
    I have had bouts of tiredness and figured it was low iron, I recently had a blood test and they said it was normal. I thought it might be low blood sugar but even that was normal.

    I have started eating more iron rich foods, I only eat spinach now instead of lettuce, I even put it on my sandwiches. I don't eat a lot of meat anymore, mostly veggie burgers and such which have some iron.

    I can't seem to take iron as it causes stomach upset (as does most everything else), about once a week I take a multi vitamin with iron at night it doesn't seem to bother me as much that way.

    I figured out that while I was taking my vitamins (w/o iron) I felt really tired, I quit taking the vitamins and feel much better Must be something I can't handle in them, now I take a super b complex, calcium, mag and zinc, and MSM, I eat lots of veggies so hopefully I am getting enough, I also have started snacking on dry cereal which has lots of vitamins too.

    Boy, the things we have to do!
    ******************************
    LIFE IS GOOD

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    WA, Australia
    Posts
    3,292
    If you get a chance check out this months Bicycling mag its got an article on vitamin supplements. Interesting read.

 

 

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