Lattice Blog

Dietary Iron for Climbers who Menstruate

Dietary iron recommendations are higher for women and people who menstruate due to blood loss during our period.

Iron levels affect our health, as well as our performance so, as athletes, we can benefit from making sure we get enough iron!

Why is iron important?

  • The creation of haemoglobin in red blood cells, which carries oxygen around the body. 
  • When making ATP (energy) at a cellular level, there are some iron-dependent processes in the mitochondria.
  • Iron is important for brain development and cognitive function. 
  • Iron is also linked to a healthy immune system. 

What foods contain iron?

Good sources of iron include red meat, eggs, nuts, beans and whole grains, lentils, chickpeas, soy/tofu, dark green leafy vegetables and fortified products.

Plant-based foods contain only non-haeme iron which is not as easily absorbed as the haeme iron found in animal products but combining plant-based iron sources with foods containing vitamin C can help to improve absorption through a co-transport mechanism.

Iron absorption can also be negatively affected by tannins and calcium, so it is worth avoiding the consumption of tea, coffee and dairy in conjunction with iron-rich meals where possible.

If you are vegan/vegetarian or have very heavy periods you may be at a higher risk of iron deficiency.

Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, tiredness, dizziness and pale skin.

If you think you may be susceptible, we would recommend seeing your doctor to have your blood levels tested.

Read more training tips.

Read more about the menstrual cycle.

Read more on climbing training for women.

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