Single versus split dose of iron optimizes hemoglobin mass gains at 2106 m altitude

Rebecca Hall, Peter Peeling, Elizabeta Nemeth, Dan Bergland, Walter T.P. Mccluskey, Trent Stellingwerff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Web of Science)


Purpose: To determine if a single versus a split equivalent daily dose of elemental iron was superior for hemoglobin mass (Hbmass) gains at altitude while minimizing gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort. Methods: Twenty-four elite runners attended a 3.1 ± 0.3 wk training camp (Flagstaff, AZ; 2106 m). A two-group design, randomized and stratified to baseline Hbmass, sex, and ferritin (>30 μ·L -1 ), was implemented daily as: 1) single dose of 1 × 200 mg (pm only, SINGLE) versus 2) split dose of 2 × 100 mg (am and pm; SPLIT) elemental iron (ferrous fumarate). The Hbmass and venipuncture assessments were completed upon arrival and departure (±2 d) from camp for ferritin, hepcidin, and erythroferrone (ERFE) concentrations. Validated food frequency, GI distress, menstrual blood loss (MBL) and training questionnaires were implemented throughout. Univariate analysis was used to compare Hbmass, with baseline ferritin, dietary iron intake, MBL, and training volume used as covariates. Results: Both conditions increased Hbmass from baseline (P < 0.05), with SINGLE (867.3 ± 47.9 g) significantly higher than SPLIT (828.9 ± 48.9 g) (P = 0.048). The GI scores were worse in SINGLE for weeks 1 and 2 combined (SINGLE, 18.0 ± 6.7 points; SPLIT, 11.3 ± 6.9 points; P = 0.025); however, GI scores improved by week 3, resulting in no between-group differences (P = 0.335). Hepcidin significantly decreased over time (P = 0.043) in SINGLE, with a nonsignificant decrease evident in SPLIT (22%). ERFE significantly decreased in both groups (28.5%; P < 0.05). No between-group differences existed for ERFE, hepcidin, food frequency, MBL, or daily training outcomes (P > 0.05). Conclusions: A single nightly 200-mg dose of elemental iron was superior to a split dose for optimizing Hbmass changes at altitude in runners over an approximately 3-wk training camp.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-759
Number of pages9
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


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