Are Ferritin Supplements Necessary for Runners?

Ferritin are blood cell proteins within the human body that hold iron. It is becoming increasingly popular for athletes, especially runners, to get their ferritin levels checked, as low levels indicate iron deficiency and can impede performance, and, in serious cases, cause anemia. If iron levels are too low, your doctor will prescribe ferritin supplements, which increase the amount of iron in the body. My cross- country coach is a huge proponent of ferritin supplements. In fact, he requires everyone on the team to get his or her iron levels tested. Since I have an aversion to needles, I did some further research on the benefits of ferritin supplements, in order to see if they are worth having to get blood drawn.

In order to understand fully the effects of ferritin supplements on the human body, it is necessary to know what a healthy iron level looks like. Normal iron levels for men are 12 to 300 nanograms per milliliter and women should be between 12 and 12 and 150 nanograms per milliliter. 12 is considered to be the lowest you can be before becoming anemic. There are also health problems associated with too much iron, such as hemochromatosis, which damages the liver and heart. You should not take ferritin supplements until you have gotten blood drawn, as it may not be necessary for your iron levels.

So, what exactly are the benefits of ferritin supplements? Increasing ferritin will help decrease fatigue and increase recovery. Runners who take ferritin report feeling less tired in their legs, as well as stronger over a longer duration of time. Ferritin is especially helpful to distance runners, who need to sustain their energy for long periods of time.

As with any type of prescription of supplement, ferritin does come with various side effects and warnings. The most common side effect of ferritin is constipation, however, it has also been associated with vomiting and diarrhea. If you don’t have an “iron stomach”, ferritin supplements may not be the best option for you. You can also increase iron levels through eating more iron-rich foods, such as red meat, beans, leafy vegetables, and seafood.

There are a few different brands of ferritin supplements. My coach prefers Pro-Ferrin, which is supposed to be the easiest on the stomach. Your doctor can also direct you to a good iron supplement, if you have trouble finding one that works for you.

Before taking ferritin supplements, it is important to double-check that you actually need them. However, if your iron levels are low, increasing iron levels will certainly have a positive effect on your energy levels and performance. I guess I’ll just try and face my fear of needles, since having sufficient iron levels is absolutely necessary.

By Fixt Blogger, Emma Steiner.