Iron supplementation fortifies performance in women

A review of research reveals “impressive benefit” from iron supplementation

The metal suit’s cool and all, but forget Iron Man. Iron woman -- or any woman, really -- with the addition of supplemental iron, will experience a (somewhat) heroic boost in their exercise performance.


A new, systematic review of research about the effect of iron supplementation on exercise performance of women suggests that women who take the dose daily experience a marked improvement in performance. The review was published in the Journal of Nutrition and noted on

Lead researcher, Dr Sant-Rayn Pasricha from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health found that iron supplementation improved women’s exercise performance, in terms of both the highest level they could achieve at 100 percent exertion (maximal capacity) and their exercise efficiency at a submaximal exertion. Women who were given iron were able to perform a given exercise using a lower heart rate and at a higher efficiency.

This is the first time researchers have been able to confirm that iron supplementation has beneficial effects on exercise performance, according to a release from the university. “The study collected data from many individual smaller studies which generally could not identify this beneficial effect on their own. However, when we merged the data using meta-analysis, we found this impressive benefit from iron,” said Pasricha.

The findings could have implications for improved performance in athletes and health and general health and well-being in the rest of the population, Pasricha said in the release.

The importance of iron is often overlooked. A lack of the mineral can lead to symptoms of attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, and cause low energy levels and poor immune function in people of all ages.

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