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The Importance of Iron for Athletes and
Iron is particularly important for active individuals, says Dr. Brian J. Sharkey in his book Fitness and Health. "Much of the iron absorbed in the blood goes into the production of hemoglobin, the compound in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the working muscles. Iron is also used in muscle myoglobin to transport and store oxygen, and in important oxidative (aerobic) enzymes.
"Individuals who are deficient in iron risk anemia and poor endurance. Since only 10% to 20% of the iron in food is absorbed into the bloodstream, athletes must take in 10 times the amount needed," says Dr. Sharkey. "Lean meat is a rich source of iron, and the iron in meat is also more readily absorbed than that from other sources."
Other animal sources rich in iron include liver, kidney, chicken, turkey,
tripe, shellfish, and fish (tinned, fresh or frozen). Non-animal sources
rich in iron include dried fruit, nuts, molasses, wholegrain breads, dried
beans and lentils, green leafy vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals.
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