Changes in iron status during competitive season in female collegiate swimmers

D. E. Brigham, J. L. Beard, R. S. Krimmel, W. L. Kenney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We examined changes in iron status in 25 female varsity collegiate swimmers over the course of a competitive season via weekly capillary blood sampling. We also studied the effectiveness of moderate iron supplementation (39 mg/day) in preventing expected changes in iron status via a double- blinded crossover design. On entry into the study, 17 of the swimmers had depleted iron stores (plasma ferritin <12 μg/L) and 5 were anemic (Hb <120 g/L). After 5 wk of placebo treatment, hemoglobin decreased (≥6 g/L) in 44% and increased in 12% of the subjects. After 5 wk of iron supplementation, hemoglobin decreased in 16% and increased in 24% of the subjects. Likewise, after placebo treatment, plasma ferritin decreased (≥5 μg/L) in 24% and increased in 4% of the subjects, whereas iron supplementation resulted in decreases in 4% and increases in 68% of the subjects. In the absence of iron supplementation, hemoglobin levels decreased despite mean dietary iron intakes of 16.3 mg/day. These results show that moderate iron supplementation is effective in preventing decline in the iron status of female collegiate swimmers during a competitive season, but a higher dose of iron may be necessary to reverse their iron-deficient state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-422
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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