Iron, Zinc, and Physical Performance

James P McClung

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2019 Mar;188(1):135-139. doi: 10.1007/s12011-018-1479-7. Epub 2018 Aug 15.


Iron and zinc are nutritionally essential trace elements that function through incorporation into proteins and enzymes; many of these proteins and enzymes affect physical performance. Poor iron status (iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia) is prevalent in both developed and developing nations. Zinc deficiency has has been reported in clinical and population studies, although the incidence is difficult to quantify due to the lack of a reliable zinc status indicator. The objective of this manuscript is to review the relationship between iron and zinc status and physical performance. In sum, numerous reports indicate diminished physical performance in individuals with poor iron and/or zinc status, whereas, in individuals with adequate status, evidence supporting a beneficial role of iron or zinc at levels beyond the recommended dietary allowance for optimizing physical performance is lacking.

Keywords: Exercise; Iron; Nutrition; Physical performance; Zinc.

Resource from PubMed