Blood biochemical indices of iron status were measured in venous blood from 20 runners and 6 control subjects. All subjects were.male, ages 20 to 40 years, and stable with regard to body weight and degree of physical activity. Dietary analysis was undertaken using a 7-day weighed food intake. There was no evidence of iron deficiency: hemoglobin concentrations and serum femtin levels were within the normal population range for all individuals. However, serum ferritin was negatively correlated with the amount of training. Daily iron intake appeared to be adequate; iron intake was correlated with protein intake but not related to training or energy intake. Serum ferritin, an indicator of iron status, was significantly correlated with vitamin C intake but not iron intake. Serum transferrin concentration was higher in the group of athletes undertaking a high weekly training load compared with the control subjects, suggesting an alteration in iron metabolism although there was no evidence of increased erythropoiesis. The biological significance of this is unclear.
Robertson and Maughan are with the Dept. of Environmental & Occupational Medicine, and Davidson is with the Haematology Unit, University Medical School, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, AB9 2ZD Scotland. Milne is with Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, AB2 9SB Scotland.