Both iron supplements and B12 vitamins can give your workout performance and general health a boost, however not all individuals will benefit from taking either or both of these supplements. In this article I take a look at each of the supplements in turn, describing what role iron and B12 have in your body, addressing the question of whether you need to take them and how they can aid you in your fitness.
Remember, Fitness Review is simply an info / entertainment website – you should always consult qualified medical professional before changing your diet or taking any kind of supplement.
Iron, as a mineral, is needed in maintaining your overall health. It plays an integral part of the hemoglobin molecule, which has a vital role in transporting oxygen from your lungs. Iron is found naturally in two forms, heme iron which is found in animal products and non-heme iron which is found in plant foods. So a diet which might include tuna, chicken, soybeans, lentils and fortified foods such as cereal and oatmeal may well see you reach your recommended daily intake. In this case, generally there would be no need to take an iron supplement at all, as it would only have an effect on your pocket and too high levels of iron can actually be dangerous.
However, a number of fitness enthusiasts may actually fall foul of iron deficiency, especially those whose activity of choice is running endurance races. The act of running can cause muscle damage and hemolysis, or the destruction of red blood cells. This may sound dangerous, but in fact it’s completely normal. However if excessive running or training is performed, the destruction of these red blood cells is higher than usual and can lead to an iron deficiency.
Another reason that some fitness enthusiasts might lack iron in their diet is because of the concentration of carbohydrates in their diet, which in turn means less protein consumption, this being the premium source of iron for much of the population. Athletes whose focus is on strength training tend to eat more protein naturally, so will usually have enough iron in their diet.
If you consider you might fall into the iron deficient category, consult your doctor or sports physician before going ahead and taking an iron supplement.
Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin and is a water-soluble vitamin. B12 is part of the B group of vitamins which is necessary for healthy skin, hair, eyes and a healthy liver, while vitamin B12 itself will help in maintaining red blood cells and healthy nerve cells while also ensuring a proper immune function, while also assisting in the production of DNA.
B12 is found in animal foods such as fish, dairy products, eggs and various types of meat. This is the reason why vegetarians can be prone to a B12 deficiency. There are a number of effects which a B12 deficiency can lead to and some of these are outside of the fitness realm, such as vision problems and mood swings and disturbances.
When it comes to fitness, there are a number of reasons why a B12 deficiency can have an effect. Symptoms include muscle weakness, fatigue and shaky movements. The reason for this is because B12 will assist your body in converting carbohydrates into glucose, which the body will use to give you energy. So even if you are doing the right thing and consuming carbohydrates before that workout, a B12 deficiency could be undoing the good work, as those carbs will not be properly converted into the energy you’ll need.
Obviously a lack of B12 could have other effects, as it can have an effect on your immune function, potentially making you too ill to exercise in the first place, while you’ll also be more prone to infection.
If you consider that you might be deficient in B12 consult your doctor, who might decide that a change of diet which might include more animal based food stuffs might be sufficient. If still lacking in B12 it might be suggested that you move onto B12 supplements.
Although performing very different roles, both Iron and B12 are essential in ensuring that your body remains fit and healthy. If you are lacking in either of the two fitness and exercise can be greatly affected. An iron deficiency can lead to a lack of oxygen reaching your body, which will leave you fatigued and unable to exercise, while a lack of B12 might see those energy levels decrease as the carbs aren’t converted into glucose. If worried you are in either iron or B12, consult a qualified medical professional.
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