It’s sad, but true. Iron deficiency is more common in women than it is in men — mainly due to the blood loss that occurs during menstruation. In fact, it’s estimated that 3-5% of premenopausal women in the US have anemia, and another 16% are affected by low iron levels. For female endurance athletes, the risk of anemia is even higher because monthly menstruation is stacked on top of grueling training regimens which also deplete them of iron.
Absolutely. Low iron can increase both muscle and mental fatigue, as well as reduce endurance and energy efficiency. A recent study compared race times of 165 elite female rowers, 30% of whom were iron depleted. On average, the rowers suffering from low iron finished the 2-kilometer race 21 seconds slower than the rowers with normal iron levels. 21 seconds!
"Results from this study add to the evidence that iron status is an important issue facing female endurance athletes at the beginning of a training season," says study author Diane DellaValle, Ph.D.
The symptoms of anemia are actually quite familiar to most endurance athletes. It’s similar to that feeling you get after a really long workout...Weak, fatigued, dizzy, short of breath, exhausted. And the list goes on. The difference of course being that when you’re anemic, you feel these things all the time. Bummer, right?
“Anemia can leave you chronically tired, hamper your workouts, and also cause more random symptoms, such as irritability and frequently feeling cold,” writes Stacy Sims, Ph.D., in ROAR.
Remember, iron depletion even without the presence of anemia is still very common in female athletes. And that can present itself with similar symptoms, too. So if you feel like you may be suffering from an iron deficiency, give your doctor a call. A simple blood test will easily check your iron levels.
Doctor Michael Ross, a Sports Medicine Physician at the Rothman Institute and the Medical Director at The Performance Lab says anemia is often tied to nutritional imbalances, and he sees this most frequently in his patients who are female athletes.
So, should all female athletes be taking an iron supplement? Absolutely not — especially without a blood test to confirm low iron stores, Ross says. Defaulting to iron supplements as a first line of defense is a bad idea since too much iron is just as problematic, and supplementing can lead to iron toxicity. Instead, the best way to restore iron depletion is to add iron-rich foods to your diet.
We understand that this can be easier said than done for athletes — especially those who are always on the move or who may be plant-based eaters. So that’s where SP2 comes in. Thanks to this fresh, nutrient-rich supplement of 100% spirulina, getting more iron into your diet is fast, easy, and ridiculously good for you. In fact, spirulina was actually proven to help seniors cure anemia after only 12 weeks.
Without a doubt! In addition to being all natural and jam-packed with vitamins and minerals that can improve your overall health, a single serving of SP2 fresh spirulina contains 6.7 milligrams of iron — that’s 39% of your daily iron requirement. By comparison, a single 3-ounce serving of the traditional ‘high iron’ red meat has about 13% of your daily iron requirement.
A recent review of studies looking at dietary iron (like that found in SP2) concluded "that dietary iron interventions can assist in maintaining iron status in female athletes, especially during intensive training and competition.” This means SP2 can help in both replenishing and maintaining iron levels.
Want to maximize your intake of the iron in SP2? It’s suggested that adding Vitamin C when consuming iron-rich foods will alter the meal composition in a way that improves overall iron absorption. So throw your SP2 into a fruit smoothie, like this one! With so many fruits being chock-full of Vitamin C, adding SP2 to the mix makes for a perfect one-two punch (see what we did there?)
To our strong and powerful female athletes out there. Remember...Being a high-performance athlete is all about finding even the slightest edge over your competition. So keep your edge and your iron levels with SP2. Get yours here.