We present this to West Ranch parents and athletes for consideration because it is the most comprehensive POV that we have seen from a trusted source that we know. It should only be considered within your broader perspective inclusive of your Doctor's advice. This may help runners that struggle with iron, ferritin, and hemoglobin levels.
from Amie Schroeder, Master's College Coach:
…an athlete won’t feel the effects of low ferritin; that heavy, fatigued feeling associated with iron deficiency is a result of low hemoglobin. Low ferritin however, can be an indicator that an athlete might have low hemoglobin or be in danger of getting low.
A few additional things to know…
There are very little industry standards on the vitamin/mineral industry. That being said, most of what’s on the market can hardly be absorbed by the body. Most supplements are synthesized in a lab and are bound with mineral salt – this is NOT the way vitamins and minerals are bound in nature, so the body doesn’t recognize or know what to do with it. Iron is something to be very careful with because if it ends up in your blood stream it will result in the body treating it like a poison, which will often result in lower hemoglobin – this is a classic case of the medicine becoming the poison.
Many of the iron supplements on the market contain somewhere between 40-65 mg. In nature, the most iron rich foods sources, never have more than 13 mg. per serving. Chicken liver, for example, has about 12.5 mg of iron per 3 oz. serving. Obviously, 65 mg is quite a bit of iron.
Because the majority of food in America is grown in mineral deficient soil, even if a person is eating all the “right” foods, they most likely are not getting the iron they need, especially if they are a female distance athlete. This is why it becomes necessary to supplement. Ideally, I would prefer not to have our athletes supplement, and rather get all the iron they need from the food they eat, but this is nearly impossible, and for a college student, much too expensive.
Regarding supplements, here is what we’ve found to be most effective…
I discovered a wellness company that makes a multivitamin patented to be 4 times more absorbable than anything else on the market. The reason it’s more absorbable is because they use plant binders (rather than mineral salt) to bind the components of the multivitamin together – modeling very closely the way such vitamins and minerals are found in nature. The reason the multivitamin is important is because many girls supplement with iron, but are deficient in other vitamins and minerals necessary for iron absorption – they’re taking iron, but can’t absorb it. That being said, the first step is getting them on a good multivitamin. The Multivitamin I highly recommend is called Vitality, which is made by Melaleuca. Melaleuca is a consumer direct company. In order to purchase from them you have to set up an account, which I’d be more than happy to help you with if you’d like.
The second step is finding an absorbable iron supplement. The supplement I like most is called Pur-Absorb. Pur-Absorb is a liquid iron supplement drawn from iron rich spring water. It is a low dose (5 mg/dose), but highly absorbable – remember, it’s not about how much iron you take, but how much you can absorb. Pur-Absorb can be found at Whole Foods Market, but is often on sale at Walgreens for half the price.
I have almost all my girls taking the Vitality multivitamin continuously. When they are blood tested, and their levels are lower than what we’d like, we supplement for a short time with Pur-Absorb. I have them take 2-3 doses a day when supplementing; we usually supplement no longer than 2 weeks. For the girls that have a history of low iron, we usually have them supplement for two weeks going into our championship phase of the season. However, all these girls are being blood tested in order to monitor their levels.
These two supplements have been the winning combination for us. Hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Good luck with the rest of your season,