Iron status in exercising women: the effect of oral iron therapy vs increased consumption of muscle foods

Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Dec;56(6):1049-55. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/56.6.1049.


Forty-seven previously sedentary women participating in a 12-wk moderate aerobic-exercise program were randomly assigned to one of four dietary groups: 50-mg/d iron supplement and a low food-iron diet (50 FE + EX), 10-mg/d iron supplement and a low food-iron diet (10 FE + EX), placebo and unrestricted diet (P + EX), and meat supplement and high food-iron diet (M + EX). A sedentary control group (n = 13) received no dietary interventions. Hematocrit, total iron-binding capacity, and hemoglobin, serum iron, serum ferritin, and serum albumin concentrations were measured every 4 wk. Hemoglobin values decreased at the end of 4 wk in all exercising groups compared with the control group. Iron status in the 50 FE + EX and M + EX groups improved after week 4 as indicated by an increase in serum ferritin, serum iron, and hemoglobin concentrations, and a decline in total iron-binding capacity. Thus, short-term, moderate aerobic exercise resulted in compromised iron status that was offset to varying degrees by ingesting iron or meat supplements. However, meat supplements were more effective in protecting hemoglobin and ferritin status than were iron supplements.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Diet*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Hematocrit
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage*
  • Iron / blood*
  • Meat*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Oxygen Consumption


  • Hemoglobins
  • Ferritins
  • Iron