Friedman, B., Weller, E., Mairbauri, H., & Bartsch, P. (2001). Effects of iron repletion on blood volume and performance capacity in young athletes. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33, 741-746.

The purpose of this study was to assess whether iron repletion leads to an increase in red blood cell volume and performance capacity in iron-deficient nonanemic athletes. Young elite male athletes (N = 40; 13-25 yr) with low serum ferritin and normal hemoglobin, were randomly assigned to a 12-week treatment with either 2 x day ferrous iron or placebo supplementation. Physiological measures were obtained through an incremental treadmill test.

After 12 weeks, the iron repletion group improved normal ferritin levels, while the placebo group did not change. Red blood cell volume or any other hematological measure did not change in either group. The iron-repletion group significantly increased VO2max and O2 consumption. Performance, maximal heart rate, and lactate values did not change significantly in either group.

Implication. Iron-repletion improves ferritin levels without changing any other blood parameters.

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