Sports Nutrition: Frequently Asked Questions (cont.)

The RDA for iron is 15 milligrams a day for women and 10 milligrams a day for men. Red meat, fish and poultry are good sources of iron. Vegetarian sources of iron include: fortified breakfast cereals, beans and green leafy vegetables.

Should I take an iron supplement?

Taking iron supplements will not improve performance unless an athlete is truly iron deficient. Too much iron can cause constipation, diarrhea, nausea and may interfere with the absorption of other nutrients such as cooper and zinc. Therefore, iron supplements should not be taken without proper medical supervision.

Why is calcium so important?

Calcium is needed for strong bones and proper muscle function. Dairy foods are the best source of calcium. However, studies show that many female athletes who are trying to lose weight cut back on dairy products. Female athletes who do not get enough calcium may be at risk for stress fractures and, when they are older they will be at risk for osteoporosis. Young women between the ages of 9 and 18 need about 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day. Adults aged 19 through 50 need 1,000 milligrams daily, while those 51 and older should aim for 1,200 milligrams. Low- fat dairy products are a rich source of calcium and are low in fat and calories.

For additional information, please visit the Nutrition and Vitamins and Calcium Supplements Centers.

Last Editorial Review: 6/19/2003

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