One cause of anemia can be blood loss through menstrual bleeding, but if you have RED-S / REDs (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport), you most likely have amenorrhea. Since you’re not losing iron because of a period, sports nutritionist Nancy Clark advises that you examine your iron intake. She has suggestions about what may be lacking in your diet, and what you can do to raise your iron levels while minimizing stomach discomfort.


Read the transcript

[Tina]  I’m anemic. Is there a best way to raise my iron level? 

[Nancy]  If you’re anemic, you’re one of many, many runners who are anemic, so it’s not unusual. Sometimes female runners become anemic because they lose iron through menstrual bleeding. If you have RED-S, you probably aren’t having the menstrual bleeding, so that I would look more at your iron intake than at your iron loss. 

So why are you anemic? Are you eating red meat or dark meat chicken, salmon, you know, animal sources of iron? Are you cooking in a cast iron skillet? Are you eating “all-natural” foods like Kashi or granola that are not enriched with iron? So certainly by meeting with a registered dietitian, you could get your diet checked out to see if you are consuming adequate iron. If you are in a hole, if you are anemic, it’s very, very difficult to get out of the hole without taking an iron supplement. 

And sometimes iron supplements are hard on the stomach; sometimes it feels like a brick in my stomach. Experiment with different brands of iron so that if one doesn’t digest comfortably, try another brand. That can make a big difference. Also, the research is showing that you can take iron every other day, as opposed to every day, and that that might be easier to tolerate. And if you take it after your exercise, then that’s a good thing to do. Take it with a source of vitamin C, so you have some berries, or orange juice, or fruit, or broccoli, or peppers,or whatever other sources of vitamin C, along with your iron. You will feel so much better once you’re not anemic and it’s like, what a great way to enhance performance. Just correct a nutritional deficiency. 

[Tina]  Yes, thank you so much, and  is there any time you recommend getting injected iron? Or do you not believe in  getting that checked out, not getting that?  

[Nancy]  Well, if your iron is that low, certainly  you want to have a good talk with your physician to figure out why is it this low.  Are there blood losses going on through your stools, and so that would be certainly a medical concern and the doctor would have the answers to that. 

 [Tina] Okay, thank you.

check it out

Recovering from RED-S is hard. It’s even harder if you’re working through it alone. Even if you have professional support, they’re not available 24-7, and that can lead to going down search engine rabbit holes that have the potential to derail everything.

Our online resource, RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover, will answer all those questions swimming around in your head about recovery. It will give you the opportunity to connect with the experts you’ve come to know here, and to surround  yourself with a community of others who are going through it too. THANK YOU! to Athletic Greens and Tracksmith for supporting this YouTube series and RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover.

Go to to get five free travel packs of AG1 and a free one year’s supply of vitamin D3+K2 with your subscription!

When you go to and use the code TINA15 at checkout, you’ll get free shipping and Tracksmith will donate 5% of your order to Rising Hearts, the Indigenous-led nonprofit founded by Jordan Marie Daniels.

more about nancy:

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD has a successful sports nutrition private practice in the Boston area. She has years of experience helping active clients—from “ordinary mortals” to Olympians—win with good nutrition. Her best-selling “Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook” has sold over 800,000 copies. It is a popular resource for reliable sports nutrition information, as is her online sports nutrition workshop. Nancy is a sought-after nutrition counselor for athletes who struggle with food-and weight issues, as well as a nutrition speaker popular with dietitians, trainers, coaches, and other health professionals. You can find her at

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