LOCAL NEWS

Provo Runner Manages Iron Deficiency To Improve Athletic Performance

Jul 5, 2019, 4:10 PM | Updated: 4:35 pm

PROVO, Utah — Exercising can be challenging, and adding health complications can make it even more difficult. But one Provo athlete won’t let anything stop her.

Amber Andrews, 34, is a remarkable athlete. She recently broke a record in the Utah Valley 10K race and still holds the BYU freshman 5K record. She competed in the USA Worlds team for cross-country and track two years in a row.

Even as she’s gotten older and become a mother she still runs extremely fast. At a recent early morning practice in Provo, she ran a 5:35 pace with her team.

She said waking up for 6 a.m. workouts and training regularly is important, but only gets you so far. Andrews said nutrition is essential to her athletic performance.

But two years ago, Andrews noticed something wrong. By the end of a workout, she felt unusually exhausted.

“I’ve been feeling, like, really off and down, just super low energy,” she explained.

Andrews got her blood tested and found out her iron levels were extremely low. “I could still work out, I was just tired and fatigued,” she said. She found it hard to breathe and didn’t recover well after exercising.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Max Testa, a sports performance physician at the LiVe Well Center in Park City, said iron is critical for everyone, especially women who work out regularly.

Testa said iron’s function is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles in the body. He said without it, your body can’t perform as well. “You may feel like your muscles are getting sore with exercise (and) recovery is longer,” he said.

He said other symptoms include having pale skin, losing hair, feeling anxious or experiencing restless leg syndrome.

 

Testa said endurance athletes tend to have an iron deficiency because they destroy more red cells. “Because these red cells carrying oxygen to the muscle gets squeezed into the muscle going through small blood vessels,” he explained.

Plus, Testa said runners destroy red blood cells every time their foot hits the ground. He also said when people exercise, blood tends to leave the gastrointestinal system for the muscle, causing athletes to lose iron in the process.

He added about 50% of female athletes with regular menstrual cycles tend to also have an iron deficiency.

Testa said the body doesn’t naturally produce iron, meaning you have to get it through your diet. He said sources like red meat, fish and chicken are best, in addition to dark, leafy greens and broccoli.

Andrews started including foods with higher iron intake in her diet. “I’m not a huge red meat eater, but I do love a good steak,” she said laughing.

Testa said iron from food is always the best choice; but if someone still needs more, he recommends they supplement their intake through over-the-counter iron tablets.

He said the recommended intake for adult males is about 8 milligrams to 9 milligrams per day, and for adult females is about 15 to 18 milligrams a day. Testa said pregnant or menstruating women could benefit from a little bit more.

Andrews is slowly working her way back to health. “Every little point, I can feel it. Literally, I feel a little bit better, a little bit,” she described.

Even when Andrews hasn’t felt well, she has never considered giving up the sport she loves. “I don’t know what I do without it!” she said.

Testa encourages anyone experiencing symptoms of extreme fatigue to get their blood tested regularly. He said iron is not a performance enhancer if you have healthy levels already in your body, and warns people against taking supplements unnecessarily.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

...
Madison Swenson

Boy hospitalized after falling from slide at Rose Springs Elementary

n 8-year-old boy is in critical but stable condition after falling from a slide at Rose Springs Elementary School.
21 hours ago
Utah State Prisoin...
Shara Park

Governor, lawmakers to address 3 inmate attacks on guards at Utah Prisons

The maximum-security unit at the Utah State Prison remained closed to visitors Monday after an inmate attacked a correctional officer on Saturday.
21 hours ago
handcuffs...
Pat Reavy

Utah man accused of drugging woman’s tea, sexually extorting her

A Tooele County man who police say put a sleeping pill in a woman's tea without her knowledge and told her she could not stay at his residence unless she had sex with him, is facing criminal charges.
21 hours ago
Utahns filling up their cars with gas. (KSL-TV)...
Matt Rascon

Gas prices jump 26 cents in one week, Utah governor blames supply

Gas prices have shot up more than usual in January, with increases Utahns generally see in March, and Gov. Cox said closed refineries and increased demand is to blame.
21 hours ago
(Shelby Lofton/KSL TV)...
Shelby Lofton

Biologist explains why visitors are finding dead birds at Great Salt Lake shoreline

Thousands of birds have died this winter, many now washing ashore at the Great Salt Lake. A biologist explains what's causing the birds to die and what's being done to take care of the issue.
21 hours ago
Elif Ekin was born in Turkey, and now owns and operates Kahve Cafe in Salt Lake City. (KSL-TV)...
Jed Boal

‘It’s devastating,’ Utahn born in Turkey expresses her concerns after 7.8 earthquake

An SLC café owner was born not too far from the epicenter of the 7.8 Turkey earthquake and still has family and friends in that area.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Provo Runner Manages Iron Deficiency To Improve Athletic Performance