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).