Why Endurance Athletes Need Iron

Why Endurance Athletes
Need Iron

Iron deficiency can create a number of problems for athletes, such as exhaustion, diminished performance, and poor recovery. Iron is an essential nutrient that is vital to good health. Given that iron supports a number of important functions within the body – including brain and immune function, oxygen transport, and energy metabolism – endurance athletes should take special care to ensure their iron levels are adequate.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, and some groups are more vulnerable to developing it than others. Endurance athletes are one such group, given the physical intensity of their lifestyle. Athletes may lose iron through dehydration causing gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding or bleeding in the bladder, through sweat, or red blood cell destruction. Red blood cell destruction can occur due to circulatory stress from muscle activity. Low iron may also result from a phenomenon known as foot-strike hemolysis, whereby blood vessels burst in the foot due to repeated strikes against a hard surface. Foot-strike hemolysis is prevalent among runners and triathletes.

If you are an athlete – particularly one who trains at the sub-elite or elite level – there are a few factors that can further increase your risk of developing iron deficiency. These include being a woman, menstruation, or following a plant-based diet.

The physical intensity of being an endurance athlete demands an extremely conscientious approach to nutrition. Though eating iron-rich foods can be an effective strategy for helping to keep your iron levels in check, many people, especially women, struggle to consume the recommended daily amount of iron (8mg for men and 18mg for women). Supplementation, such as the Lucky Iron Fish, can help support your iron stores, giving your body the nutrition it needs for peak performance.

There are many reasons a woman may suffer from excessively heavy blood loss during menstruation. If you suspect that your periods are abnormally heavy, it is important to speak with your doctor. If your iron levels are low, know that there are ways to replace some of the iron lost through heavy periods. The Lucky Iron Fish can be used throughout your entire cycle, keeping your iron stores high so they can better deal with times of stress, such as during your period.

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What is the Lucky Iron Fish?

The Lucky Iron Fish is a palm-sized cooking tool made of solid, natural iron. When used as directed (boiled for 10 minutes in slightly acidified liquid), the Fish releases a safe and consistent amount of bioavailable iron (4-7mg). The Lucky Iron Fish will not alter the flavour, smell, or colour, of the water or dish you are cooking, unless misused. The Fish also will not cause side effects frequently associated with traditional iron supplements, like gastric distress.

Clinical research shows that consistent use of the Fish over 3-12 months increases levels of circulating and stored iron. Our trials found that women reported feeling better within three months of use. We also found positive changes in blood iron levels after six months of continual use.

We recommend using the Lucky Iron Fish daily, or at least three times per week. For best results, use the Fish over a 3-12 month period. Your daily recommended intake of iron will vary based on your age, gender, dietary habits, and health status. If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, take extra care to ensure your iron stores are adequate.

The Lucky Iron Fish is:

A safe way to add iron to your diet, without side effects like constipation or nausea

Made from natural bioavailable iron

Reusable for up to five years

Thoroughly tested – in addition to batch testing, third party laboratories conduct random spot tests

An affordable alternative to conventional iron supplements (tablets)

How to use the Lucky Iron Fish

The Fish can be easily used in a number of convenient and nutritious recipes. As an athlete, you may opt to use the Lucky Iron Fish to create Lucky Iron Fish Water. Enjoy it chilled before, during, or after training for iron-enriched hydration. Because the Fish will not impart any flavour, it makes a great, nutrient-fortified substitute to plain drinking water. You can even create a natural alternative to conventional sports drinks by adding fresh citrus juice, a pinch of sea salt, and a small quantity of honey or maple syrup to your Lucky Iron Fish Water.

Making Lucky Iron Fish Water by boiling the Fish in one litre of water with 2-3 drops of acidity (e.g., fresh citrus juice or vinegar) for ten minutes is the fastest, easiest, and most common way Fish Fans use the Fish; however, you may also use it to prepare carbohydrates for carb-loading days (e.g., rice, quinoa and oatmeal), smoothies, and much more.

The Lucky Iron Fish is a more economical solution to conventional iron supplements, as it can be reused for up to five years, even with daily use. To maximize the life span of the Fish, wash it with soap and water before each use. This will help ensure the Fish does not release an “iron-y” taste. After each use, remove the Fish from the pot, clean it, and dry it thoroughly. This protects the Fish from rusting. If rust does occur, it is harmless and easy to remove by scrubbing the Fish with soap and water, or lemon juice, and drying it thoroughly.

Is the Lucky Iron Fish Safe for Endurance Athletes?

Yes. The Lucky Iron Fish releases a gentle dose of iron and is safe for most people.* In fact, the Fish is likely the ideal alternative to traditional iron pills for athletes, as it will not cause unpleasant side effects commonly associated with iron pills that negatively impact training (such as digestive discomfort).

Research has confirmed that, when used as directed, the Fish delivers iron without the risk of iron overload. The only way overload would occur is by intentional misuse (e.g., boiling multiple Fish in a single litre of water for more than ten minutes).

As you would with any new supplement, consult your doctor before using the Fish.

*Those with Hemochromatosis should not use the Lucky Iron Fish. This genetic disorder makes it difficult for the body to process iron. Your doctor can tell you whether you have this condition.

How the Lucky Iron Fish has Helped Real Athletes:

"I know that at times when I’ve been iron deficient, I’ve felt exhausted and it’s been a struggle to be myself. Especially as female athletes are at an increased risk for low iron, I’ll notice that when my levels are deficient, I simply can’t hold on with the same aggression at the tail end of a workout. When I keep up with the habit of using the Lucky Iron Fish and making sure that I’m getting the appropriate rest, I’m able to push through and get every last drop out of that workout. Even with recovery, I notice that when I come back the next day and my iron levels are at an appropriate state, I can recover far faster and maximize the workout."

Canadian Olympic Hurdler & Fish Fan, Sarah Wells

"Knowing the importance of iron as an athlete and lower absorption of non-heme (plant based) iron, our family carefully monitors the iron content of all our meals (along with everything else). The Lucky Iron Fish is a simple, effective and non-intrusive cooking tool that helps ensure we have adequate iron levels each day.

Cute packaging, fast delivery and proven effectiveness (using iron tools in cooking) means we will be purchasing more of these as gifts for our athletic no-meat friends."

Kevin J., Fish Fan

Lucky Iron Fish FAQs

1. What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?
2. How can I find out for sure if my iron levels are low?
3. Should I get my iron levels tested even if I don’t have symptoms of low iron?
4. Why are athletes who follow a plant-based diet at greater risk for developing iron deficiency?
5. What are some examples of iron-rich foods that I can include in my diet?
6. When should I use the Lucky Iron Fish?
7. Can I use the Lucky Iron Fish if I become pregnant?


  • Donating Lucky Iron Fish to communities and organizations
  • Providing men and women with training opportunities to address iron deficiency in their communities. This includes diagnosis, training, shipment and impact measurement to help organizations distribute Fish to families in need and help reduce the impacts of iron deficiency

The Power Of Fish

The Power of Fish

Families that use the Lucky Iron Fish three times per week showed increases in iron levels

Alleviating iron deficiency anemia increases household income by 20%

Families who use the Lucky Iron Fish decreased prevalence of iron deficiency anemia by 46%

The Lucky Iron Fish can eliminate anemia in 80% of those using it


Are you a company, individual or or- ganization looking to get involved and donate fish? Or perhaps you're a small non profit, charity or health clinic looking to learn more.

Either way, please contact us by emailing info@luckyironfish.com.


We strive to realize this mission in a socially and environmentally responsi- ble way. That’s why we’re committed to hiring local staff, using recycled and biodegradable materials, and supporting like-minded businesses and organizations. As a result, we are a B-Corp certified company. With this, we have high standards for the partners we work with, too.