Friedman, B., Weller, E., Mairbauri, H., & Bartsch, P. (2000). Effects of iron repletion on red blood cell volume and exercise performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32(5), Supplement abstract 221.

Female athletes (N = 23) were treated twice a day with 100 mg iron (ferrous sulfate) or a placebo for 12 weeks.

The iron group recorded significantly increased serum ferritin while the placebo group did not change. Red blood cell volume and reticulocyte counts did not change in either group. The supplementation group demonstrated a significant increase in VO2max and in oxygen consumption in a supra-VO2max treadmill test. Anaerobic capacity and maximal lactate were unchanged.

Sufficient iron supplementation in iron-deficient female athletes with normal Hb levels can increase aerobic performance without a change in red blood cell volume.

Implication. Iron supplementation could alter aerobic performance potential in iron-deficient athletes.

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