by Ruth McKean, Sports Nutritionist
Nutrient Concerns for Vegetarian Athletes
Vegetarian athletes are at more risk of iron
deficient anaemia than non-vegetarian athletes who eat red
meat. In terms of quantity, red meat is a fairly average source
of iron but the quality of iron is far superior to that found
in plant sources.
The main risks groups for Iron Deficiency are
adolescent males and females, vegans, vegetarian athletes
and adult female endurance athletes. Coaches should be aware
that underlying iron deficiencies can be noticeable in athletes
as they become more lethargic and their performance reduces.
Sources of Iron
There are two types of iron: heme iron
and non-heme iron.
Heme iron is found in meat, fish
and poultry and is well absorbed by our bodies.
Non-heme iron is found in some vegetables,
cereals, pulses, beans and fruit. It is poorly absorbed
but when taken with vitamin C or heme iron, absorption will
Soyabean and diary products are poor
sources of iron, so vegetarians should include other
non-heme iron sources in their diets daily through:
Dark green leafy vegetables
Fortified breakfast cereals
Dried fruits - dates, apricots,
Strategies to meet iron needs
Do not consume tea or coffee with meals
as these can interfere with iron absorption (only drink
1-2 hour before or after).
Enhance non-heme iron absorption by including
vitamin C in the same meal (taking a small glass of orange
juice with your breakfast cereal)
Cooking in cast iron cookware every so
often rather than stainless steel. Iron cookware can leach
absorbable iron into simmering food.
Make sensible use of iron supplements
- too much iron can be toxic so seek advice from a well-qualified
nutritionist or dietician if you are unsure
Back to top
content within this website is provided by independent third parties,
either as part of a feature or through links to other websites. ScottishSport.co.uk
does not accept responsibility for the content of those sites or the
accuracy of any information contained within this site.
Scottishsport.co.uk. All right reserved.