Effect of iron injections on aerobic-exercise performance of iron-depleted female athletes

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2007 Jun;17(3):221-31. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.17.3.221.


This investigation examined the effect of intramuscular iron injections on aerobic-exercise performance in iron-deficient women. Sixteen athletes performed a 10-min steady-state submaximal economy test, a VO2max test, and a timed test to exhaustion at VO2max workload. Subjects were randomly assigned to an iron-supplemented group (IG) receiving intramuscular iron injections or to a placebo group (PG). Twenty days after the first injection, exercise and blood testing were repeated. A final blood test occurred on Day 28. Post supplementation, no differences were found between the groups' submaximal or maximal VO2, heart rate, or blood lactate (P > 0.05). Time to exhaustion was increased in the IG (P < 0.05) but was not greater than that of the PG (P > 0.05). The IG's serum ferritin (SF) was significantly increased on Days 20 and 28 (mean +/- standard error: 19 +/- 3 to 65 +/- 11 to 57 +/- 12 microg/L; P < 0.01), with a percentage change from baseline significantly greater than in the PG (P < 0.01). It was concluded that intramuscular iron injections can effectively increase SF without enhancing submaximal or maximal aerobic-exercise performance in iron-depleted female athletes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Heart Rate
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Iron / pharmacology*
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Lactates / blood
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Trace Elements / pharmacology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hemoglobins
  • Lactates
  • Trace Elements
  • Ferritins
  • Iron