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Low sideropenia? Learn how to increase your blood iron if you are a runner!

Sideremie mica_Carenta de fier pentru alergatori

Low sideropenia? Learn how to increase your blood iron if you are a runner!

Robert Hajnal

Robert Hajnal

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Find out how to increase the amount of iron in your blood when the results of the tests show you low sideropenia and many other curiosities about this metal that is very important in physical performance.

You did your tests and found that you had low sideropenia. You already knew, or you googled and found out that sideropenia = the presence of iron in the blood.

What do you do when you find out that your blood iron level is not enough? Before we see how important iron in the blood is and what its role is, let’s provide a context.

The true value of iron is provided by oxygen and the optimal use of oxygen is due to the amount of iron in the blood. One hand washes the other.

If you are in the fog, I hope you understand by the end how the “factory” works.


If we isolated every substance that makes up our body, we would see that more than 80% of the body is oxygen – O2. I mean, if you weigh 70 pounds, about 43 pounds is O2. That way, you get an idea of how important Oxygen is.

All cells in the human body need oxygen. It is an important element both for the functioning of the cells and for keeping them at an optimal level. For everything to work as well as possible, oxygen goes through 3 stages:

  1. It must be taken from the outside environment;
  2. Transported by blood;
  3. Delivered to various parts of the body;

In the first stage, oxygen reaches the lungs from the outside environment, where oxygen is transferred from the lungs to the blood.

Then, in the transport stage, the red cells intervene, whose presence is crucial, as is the amount of iron that exists on them.

Hemoglobina_Fier scazut

Hemoglobin molecule decorated with iron shuttles

I say them because iron settles on hemoglobin like candy on a Christmas tree.

When oxygen sticks to the iron molecule, the blood has a light red color. Think of red cell hemoglobin as a space shuttle carrying up to 4 passengers (oxygen molecules).

This makes iron an important vital mineral: that it settles on hemoglobin and transports oxygen from the tank (lungs) throughout the plant (body).

Molecula de fier



The iron space shuttle, seen up close

Before you go any further, you need to know that there is a balance, a very well-developed system for adjusting the amount of iron absorbed from food and that absorbed from storage.


Large amounts of iron in the diet do not guarantee a good level of iron. This is due to the fact that iron absorption is complex and influenced by many factors. The most important of these is the type of iron.

In the current diet, iron comes in two forms: heme iron and non-heme iron.

Heme iron is found in meat, fish, and poultry
Non-heme iron comes from bread and cereals, vegetables, and fruits.

Between 25-35% of heme iron is absorbed from the intestine, compared to only 2-15% of non-heme iron. So you need to eat considerably more non-heme iron to absorb the same amount. Therefore, eating red meat (which contains the most iron) or fish or poultry can really increase iron absorption. It is important to eat a variety of foods that contain non-heme iron for a good long-term iron level. Good sources for this type of non-heme iron:

  • beans;
  • lentils;
  • tofu;
  • Easter;
  • breakfast cereals (many of them are iron-fortified),
  • the bread;
  • rice;
  • eggs;
  • dried fruits, nuts and vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peas and beans). In fact, most of our dietary iron comes from non-heme sources, such as bread and cereals.

For a healthy diet, women are advised to eat five servings of vegetables, two servings of fruit, six servings of bread and cereals, 2.5 servings of meat and 2.5 servings of milk per day.

It is possible to get 18 mg of iron if you follow these recommendations and if you include iron-fortified cereals for breakfast, which serves as a portion of bread / cereal, a portion of large green leafy vegetables such as spinach and a portion of meat, chicken or fish in the “meat” category.

Another key strategy when you have low sideropenia is to increase your body’s ability to absorb iron.

Foods rich in vitamin C are well known to increase iron absorption; so include them at every meal in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables and salads.

Other foods that help absorb iron are: lemon juice, vinegar and alcohol.


We have a one-kilogram beef steak. It has about 30 mg of iron. Of the 30 mg, a maximum of 9 mg will be absorbed in the small intestine.

The remaining amount of iron will be removed. The maximum absorption from food is 25-35% and the daily requirement of iron: 8 mg/day in men 15-18 mg/day in athletes; If iron deposits, more precisely ferritin and hemosiderin deposits, decrease, the absorption in the digestive tract will increase.

If this setting does not work, it will lead to excessive disorders and absorption of iron, which, in large quantities, uncontrolled, becomes toxic.

If the erythrocytes do not have enough iron (UFO shuttles on them), not enough O2 will reach the muscles. It means that the performance decreases or is not optimal. TO KNOW! Iron absorption is competitive with Magnesium and Zinc. That is, one inhibits the other. It is either magnesium/zinc / other minerals or Iron.


You end up with low sideropenia in situations such as:

  • Insufficient iron intake from food;
  • Hemolysis – when you run there is a mechanical shock between the sole and the hard contact surface (asphalt/tape/tartan) and the blood vessels are destroyed. This destroys a large number of red blood cells. These are in limited numbers, and their restoration takes about 80 days;
  • Loss of red blood cells -> loss of hemoglobin -> loss of iron;
  • Iron loss can also be caused by bleeding (menstruation in women, hemorrhoids in men);
  • Blood donations;
  • vegetarian, vegan, or a diet in which iron is not well absorbed;


  • Low energy level;
  • Reduction of immunity – accentuated by intense effort; (that’s why, for example, I catch a cold very often after an ultramarathon)
  • Attention deficit;
  • Nervousness;

BEWARE OF OXALIC ACID! It inhibits the absorption of iron!.

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