Girls - Watch Your Iron Levels

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If your energy levels do not seem to be up where they should be you could well be suffering from an iron deficiency. I was recently training a girls football team of whom were struggling in the competition until I insisted that they have their iron levels checked. Eighty per cent of them were diagnosed as having lower than acceptable levels. After two months of  supplementation their energy levels showed a marked improvement and they actually made the grand final that year. I have also found many of my personal training clients deficient in iron and supplementation has in every case increased their energy levels and consequently the training effect.

Most of you would know that iron is a mineral and required for the formation of red blood cells, which actually transport oxygen to your hard working muscles (hopefully hard working muscles). If iron is deficient in your system you will suffer fatigue, listlessness and a general lack of energy. Maintaining your red blood count (haemoglobin) levels is vital for your performance.

You may not know that iron is one of the most difficult minerals to absorb and that iron depletion can be increased for an active person through training-induced losses. Just for you chemistry whizzes, the iron atom is buried deep within the haemoglobin molecule and has the perfect atomic structure to not only bind strongly with an oxygen molecule to be transported around the bloodstream, but loosely enough to give up the bound oxygen when the muscle needs it. If your levels become depleted you will experience a reduction in your oxygen carrying capacity, will feel fatigue, tiredness and even breathlessness after minimal exertion and these are all the classic signs of Anaemia.

Iron is absolutely crucial for a number of energy releasing processes through activation of a number of enzymes, some of which are called catalases. It functions as an electron shuttle, passing and accepting electrons from other molecules, helping to make and break biochemical reactions that would otherwise not occur. The trick with iron is to consume it in a way that is available to your body. The most easily absorbed iron is that which is bonded to protein molecules (as in meat). An example of making it less available to the body is drinking tea with a meal as the tannic acid forms complexes with iron leaving it less available to the body.

With regard to iron loss in menstruating women, monthly losses amount to an average of 28mg and actually doubling if periods are heavy or if intrauterine contraceptive devices are used.

So Girls, if you aim to be Slim Supple & Strong with plenty of energy please be conscious of your Iron Levels. 
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