How Iron Helps Swimmers with Their Performance

by SwimSwam 1

August 09th, 2016 Lifestyle, Masters, Opinion

Courtesy of P2 Life, a SwimSwam partner. 

When it comes to nutrition for competitive swimmers, we often hear about protein and carbs. But what about all of the other nutrients that swimmers need to compete as a top athlete?  One of those key nutrients is iron, and today we’re going to focus on how it can help you with your swimming performance.

Its role in the body

Iron is an essential mineral found in every cell of the body, but our bodies don’t naturally produce it on their own, so we need to get it from external sources. Among its key functions is to aid red blood cells in transporting oxygen in the blood to our tissues. Iron also ensures that muscles are working properly and while also aiding in the process of converting carbohydrates into energy during exercise.

Are you getting enough?

There are ways to know if you are not getting enough iron in your diet. Pay attention to signs of constant fatigue, irritability, lacking interest in activities, short attention span, or headaches. In extreme cases, a person with an iron deficiency may even experience irregular heartbeats, heart failure, or anemia if the iron deficiency is over a long period of time. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, check with your health professional. People who are at risk of iron deficiency are those with a gastrointestinal disorder that interferes with iron absorption, women who are menstruating, adolescent athletes, and vegetarians.

Current dietary recommendations state that teens 14 to 18 require 11-15 mg of iron per day. The average male adult requires 8 mg/day, while women between the ages of 19 to 50 should be consuming 18 mg/day. If you’re an athlete, your iron requirements are even higher: 1.3 to 1.7 times higher for athletes than non-athletes. If you are a vegetarian, your iron requirements are 1.8 times higher than they are for meat eaters. The reason for this is that the iron found in meat-based products, heme iron, has a greater bioavailability – the body is able to absorb it more efficiently – than the nonheme iron found in plant-based foods.

How it helps with athletic performance

Found in the protein hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s cells, iron also plays a role in the transfer of oxygen to your muscle cells. Sufficient iron levels mean higher aerobic capacity and better performance for athletes who are pushing their entire bodies to the limit with each breath. If you’re finding that you are short of breath after your workout, you could be iron deficient. Iron is also lost in perspiration, and although you may not feel like you are sweating during your swim, your body is losing this valuable nutrient with every stroke.

How to get more iron

Of course, the best way to get any nutrient is through a natural, unprocessed food source. Some of the top sources of dietary iron that you can include in your balanced diet are from the heme, or easily absorbed, sources of iron like meat, chicken, and fish. Nonheme iron sources, which have a little slower absorption rate, are cooked beans, lentils, and pumpkin seeds. To improve your iron absorption, eat it with foods that promote a higher rate of absorption like brussel sprouts, tomatoes, potatoes, green and red peppers and other vitamin C rich foods. Supplements are also an option, but check to make sure they are tested safe to avoid contaminating your body with banned substances.
You can see how iron helps swimmers and with some focus, you can make sure to get this important nutrient every day to improve your swimming performance. For more great info on nutrition for swimmers, follow our P2Life blog here!

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About P2Life

P2Life is family owned, performance-based, nutritional supplement company that was designed for swimmers, by swimmers. P2Life takes great care in ensuring that every batch of their performance line is tested to be free of banned and illegal substances.

Over the past couple years, athletes taking P2Life products have had some astounding results. See below for more.

P2Life’s Proven Success – Numbers Don’t Lie:

  • Over 40% of the USA Men’s National team that were taking P2Life products brought home 11 medals in total. Seven of those were gold medals.
  • 700+ Master Swimming World Records have been set by P2Life Master Athletes.
  • P2Life Founder Tim Shead, achieved his lifetime best in swimming at the age of 60. He actually swam faster at 60 than at age 22 when he was trying for the Olympic Team.
  • Over 600+ of 5 out of 5-star reviews P2Life has received from verified buyers who have purchased our products. (That’s a higher rating than the iPhone 6).
  • The percentage of P2Life Masters athletes who have been inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame.
  • Over 80 National Age Group Records have been set by athletes taking P2Life products.
    A 100% pass rate for P2Life products that have undergone 3rd party testing, and have been certified free of banned or illegal substances.
  • Every batch made, is sent and tested, safe.
  • P2Life has worked with prestigious athletes including Ricky Berens, Brendan Hansen, Tyler Clary, Rich Burns, Laura Val, David Guthrie, Michael Andrew, Rick Collela, Richard Abrahams, Davis Tarwater and Tyler McGill and many more.

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Courtesy of  P2Life, a SwimSwam ad partner.

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7 years ago

This is (or could be) a big issue. There have been so many athletes (at least in the past) who have had issues with anemia. Tim Shaw is a swimmer who particularly comes to mind.