Iron Tired

June was a rough month in the energy department. It always is, but this time it was worse than normal. Every ride since June 6th has been a struggle. I thought it was because that was a 50+ mile ride on the first day of very hot weather. I thought it was because of the consistently hot weather. I thought it was sleep deprivation from waking up at 6 am every day to ride before the weather got too hot.

— danielindustries (@danielindustri4) June 19, 2020

Two days ago, without much hope or intention, I took an iron supplement, and it seems to have made all the difference.

When I was young I was diagnosed with anemia. I was prescribed iron supplements and took them regularly until about the time I graduated from college. In my adult life, I have rarely felt the need…to the point I forgot what that bone-tired anemic feeling felt like.

I’m still just forming hypotheses, but perhaps whatever causes my body to be prone to anemia – despite eating red meat and green vegetables – is returning? Perhaps something with the hot weather messes with my ability to absorb iron? There seems to be zero science suggesting that could be it. Not even dehydration is listed as an iron absorption inhibitor. However, minerals that compete with iron for absorption: calcium, zinc, magnesium, and copper are all culprits, apparently; and while I’ve been taking zinc for a long time, I recently changed brands; I need to look into how much zinc the new one has. I have also been drinking a lot of electrolyte drink mix on my rides and otherwise. They all contain calcium and magnesium.

So I’m going to skip the zinc supplement, drink less electrolyte drink mix, and take a few more iron supplements over the next week (washed down with orange juice–vitamin C increases iron absorption) and see how I do. Maybe I’ll try eating more spinach salads, too.


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