Dietary Iron and the Elite Dancer

Caitlin Attwell, Cory Dugan, Alannah K.A. McKay, Joanna Nicholas, Luke Hopper, Peter Peeling

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Dancers are an athlete population at high risk of developing iron deficiency (ID). The aesthetic nature of the discipline means dancers potentially utilise dietary restriction to meet physique goals. In combination with high training demands, this means dancers are susceptible to problems related to low energy availability (LEA), which impacts nutrient intake. In the presence of LEA, ID is common because of a reduced mineral content within the low energy diet. Left untreated, ID becomes an issue that results in fatigue, reduced aerobic work capacity, and ultimately, iron deficient anaemia (IDA). Such progression can be detrimental to a dancer’s capacity given the physically demanding nature of training, rehearsal, and performances. Previous literature has focused on the manifestation and treatment of ID primarily in the context of endurance athletes; however, a dance-specific context addressing the interplay between dance training and performance, LEA and ID is essential for practitioners working in this space. By consolidating findings from identified studies of dancers and other relevant athlete groups, this review explores causal factors of ID and potential treatment strategies for dancers to optimise absorption from an oral iron supplementation regime to adequately support health and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1936
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


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