This investigation examined the effect of intramuscular iron injections on aerobic-exercise performance in iron-deficient women. Sixteen athletes performed a 10-min steady-state sub maximal economy test, a VO2max test, and a timed test to exhaustion at VO2max workload. Subjects were randomly assigned to an iron-supplemented group (IG) receiving intramuscular iron injections or to a placebo group (PG). Twenty days after the first injection, exercise and blood testing were repeated. A final blood test occurred on Day 28. Post supplementation, no differences were found between the groups’ sub maximal or maximal VO2, heart rate, or blood lactate (P > 0.05). Time to exhaustion was increased in the IG (P < 0.05) but was not greater than that of the PG (P > 0.05). The IG’s serum ferritin (SF) was significantly increased on Days 20 and 28 (mean ± standard error: 19 ± 3 to 65 ± 11 to 57 ± 12 µg/L; P < 0.01), with a percentage change from baseline significantly greater than in the PG (P < 0.01). It was concluded that intramuscular iron injections can effectively increase SF without enhancing sub maximal or maximal aerobic-exercise performance in iron-depleted female athletes.
Peeling, Blee, Goodman, and Dawson are with the School of Human Movement and Exercise Science, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009 Australia. Claydon is with the Seacrest Medical Centre, Sorrento, WA 6020 Australia. Beilby and Prins are with the Western Australian Centre for Pathology and Medical Research, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands, WA 6907 Australia.