Iron for Endurance

Iron for Endurance

When the body is denied an adequate iron intake, the muscles are starved for oxygen. This is one sure way to watch one’s health and dancing go right down the drain. Women are particularly prone to this iron deficiency, otherwise known as Anemia, since they lose blood on a monthly basis. Their predisposition is also due to the fact that their bodies aren’t as efficient in iron absorption as men’s bodies. About 20% of women within childbearing age have anemia.   This condition appears when the body’s red blood cells (a.k.a. hemoglobin’s) dip too low in iron. The function of the hemoglobin is to carry iron and protein into the blood. Iron is crucial to energy and endurance, which in turn are crucial to a dancer or any athlete’s performance.Those with anemia will often appear pale, weak and will have a lack of energy. Another symptom is a constant loss of breath as well as a rapid heartbeat.   An anemic person will often feel cold due to low blood pressure. They will often have black or bloody stools and may feel chest pain. Dizziness, weight loss, fatigue and abdominal pain are also signs as well. Anemia can be life threatening if bleeding occurs; the blood is thinned out and can’t clot properly. This can all be remedied if caught early on.

The good news is that iron deficiency is a curable ailment. Many things can be done to assure the body an adequate iron intake. The best thing to do is to eat iron rich foods, in the absence of iron blocking foods.   Iron rich foods include meats such as chicken, beef, pork and lamb. Cooked beans, fortified cereals, and seafood such as clams, shrimp and oysters are also rich in iron. Liver is one of the highest iron rich foods as well. But who eats liver? People really do. Pumpkin seeds, potato skins and iron fortified pasta also can be a good source.   A few known foods that block iron absorption are: coffee, alcohol, egg yolks, milk and salad. Make sure not to eat these foods with your iron rich foods. A good multivitamin is also a great way to assure regular iron intake.

Iron levels need to be checked periodically, especially for active women. It’s a good idea to get a blood test if fatigue sets in more than normal. This is a good way to utilize your training time efficiently! The FDA determined that the daily intake of iron should be 18 milligrams a day for women, and 8 for men. Note: Make sure you are getting enough absorbable iron; iron sources from animals are more readily absorbable then iron sources from vegetable derived foods.

Iron is a very important factor in your dance performance. Make sure your instrument is working it’s best before putting it through the rigors of dance. This will assure a healthy, energetic body that not only endures dance, but that shines with vitality.


Photocredit: dydcheung via Photopin