Plasma ferritin levels are an indication of the body’s iron stores. 2/3 of the body’s iron is in the hemoglobin molecules of the red blood cell. Oxygen is transported in the body bound to the iron in hemoglobin. Luther College studies show that cross country runners do best with ferritin levels at 50 or greater. Recovery time for ferritin levels can take several weeks.
Stages of Iron Depletion
1. Storage iron depletion – ferritin levels less than 12 μg/l
2. Iron deficient erythropoiesis – ferritin levels in range of 20-30 μg/l
Possible causes of poor iron status in athletes