Professional Female Athletes Are at a Heightened Risk of Iron-Deficient Erythropoiesis Compared With Nonathletes

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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This study primarily aimed to quantify and compare iron status in professional female athletes and nonathletes. Furthermore, this study also aimed to identify differences in iron status according to sporting discipline and explore the relationship between ferritin concentration and weekly training volume in professional athletes. A total of 152 participants were included in this study, including 85 athletes who were members of senior teams (handball, n = 24; volleyball, n = 36; soccer, n = 19; and judo, n = 6) involved at the highest level of competition and 67 nonathletes. A significantly greater proportion (p = .05) of athletes (27%) demonstrated iron-deficient erythropoiesis (IDE) compared with nonathletes (13%). There were nonsignificant differences (p > .05) in the prevalence of iron deficiency (ID; 49% vs. 46%) and iron deficiency anemia (IDA; 2% vs. 4%) between athletes and nonathletes. Similarly, the prevalence of ID, IDE, and IDA was not significantly different between sports (p > .05). Furthermore, training volume was negatively correlated with ferritin concentration in athletes (r: −.464, moderate, p < .001). Professional female athletes are at a heightened risk of IDE compared with nonathletes; therefore, they should be periodically screened for ID to reduce the deleterious effects on training and performance. The similar prevalence of ID, IDE, and IDA found across athletes competing in different sports suggests that overlaps exist between handball, volleyball, soccer, and judo athletes regarding risk of disturbance in iron metabolism.

Ponorac and Bajić are with the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Banja Luka, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Popović is with the Institute of Occupational and Sports Medicine, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Karaba-Jakovljević is with the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia. Scanlan is with Human Exercise and Training Laboratory, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia. Stojanović and Radovanović are with the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Nis, Nis, Serbia. Stojanović is also with the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Kragujevac, Kragujevac, Serbia.

Radovanović (fiziologija@fsfv.ni.ac.rs) is corresponding author.
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