Four Weeks of IV Iron Supplementation Reduces Perceived Fatigue and Mood Disturbance in Distance Runners

David Hughes, Ruth Fazakerley, Bev Anderson, Christopher Gore, Kevin THOMPSON

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


    Purpose: To determine the effect of intravenous iron supplementation on performance, fatigue and overall mood in runners without clinical iron deficiency.

    Methods: Fourteen distance runners with serum ferritin 30-100 μgL21 were randomly assigned to receive three blinded injections of intravenous ferric-carboxymaltose (2 ml, 100 mg, IRON) or normal saline (PLACEBO) over four weeks (weeks 0, 2, 4). Athletes performed a 3,000 m time trial and 106400 m monitored training session on consecutive days at week 0 and again following each injection. Hemoglobin mass (Hbmass) was assessed via carbon monoxide rebreathing at weeks 0 and 6. Fatigue and mood were determined bi-weekly until week 6 via Total Fatigue Score (TFS) and Total Mood Disturbance (TMD) using the Brief Fatigue Inventory and Brunel Mood Scale. Data were analyzed using magnitude-based inferences, based on the unequal variances t-statistic and Cohen's Effect sizes (ES).

    Conclusion: During 6 weeks of training, intravenous iron supplementation improved perceived fatigue and mood of trained athletes with no clinical iron deficiency, without concurrent improvements in oxygen transport capacity or performance.

    Results: Serum ferritin increased in IRON only (Week 0: 62.8621.9, Week 4: 128.1646.6 μgL21; p = 0.002) and remained elevated two weeks after the final injection (127.0666.3 μgL21, p = 0.01), without significant changes in Hbmass. Supplementation had a moderate effect on TMD of IRON (ES -0.77) with scores at week 6 lower than PLACEBO (ES -1.58, p = 0.02). Similarly, at week 6, TFS was significantly improved in IRON vs. PLACEBO (ES -1.54, p = 0.05). There were no significant improvements in 3,000 m time in either group (Week 0 vs. Week 4; Iron: 625.6655.5 s vs. 625.4652.7 s; PLACEBO: 624.8647.2 s vs. 639.1659.7 s); but IRON reduced their average time for the 106400 m training session at week 2 (Week 0: 78.066.6 s, Week 2: 77.266.3; ES-0.20, p = 0.004).

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere108042
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2014


    • Adolescent
    • Adult
    • Fatigue/blood
    • Female
    • Ferric Compounds/pharmacology
    • Ferritins/blood
    • Hemoglobins/analysis
    • Humans
    • Injections, Intravenous
    • Male
    • Maltose/analogs & derivatives
    • Mood Disorders/blood
    • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
    • Running/physiology
    • Treatment Outcome
    • Young Adult
    • anemia
    • fatigue
    • ferritin
    • hemoglobin
    • human performance
    • intravenous injections
    • iron deficiency
    • sports

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