Iron, Zinc, and Physical Performance
Iron and zinc are nutritionally essential trace elements that function through incorporation into proteins and enzymes; many of these proteins and enzymes affect physical performance. Poor iron status (iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia) is prevalent in both developed and developing nations. Zinc deficiency has been reported in clinical and population studies, although the incidence is difficult to quantify due to the lack of a reliable zinc status indicator. The objective of this manuscript is to review the relationship between iron and zinc status and physical performance. In sum, numerous reports indicate diminished physical performance in individuals with poor iron and/or zinc status, whereas, in individuals with adequate status, evidence supporting a beneficial role of iron or zinc at levels beyond the recommended dietary allowance for optimizing physical performance is lacking.
KeywordsExercise Iron Physical performance Nutrition Zinc
The author acknowledges Ms. Alyssa Kelley for her critical review of the manuscript.
This work was supported by the U.S. Army Medical Research Material Command’s Military Operational Medicine Research Program.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The author declares that there are no conflicts of interest.
The views, opinions, and/or findings in this report are those of the authors and should not be construed as official Department of the Army or Department of Defense position, policy, or decision unless so designated by other official designation.
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