Iron Maiden: Enhancing Performance and Well-being in Female Athletes (Pediatric)


Iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. It is estimated that of 30% of all females experience iron deficiency, with a greater prevalence in female endurance athletes. Sub-optimal iron stores can lead to anemia which causes fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and pale skin. It can have several consequences to an individual's health, and in the case of female athletes, sport performance. The prevention and treatment of sub-optimal iron levels depend on the underlying cause and severity of the deficiency. While a balanced diet adequate in iron-rich foods is essential, diet alone is often insufficient to correct the problem. In such cases, iron supplements are recommended for individuals with sub-optimal iron status or those who are at high risk of developing it. The rate of absorption from currently available iron supplements is generally very poor and ranges from 2-20%. Furthermore, supplementation from these sources is commonly associated with side-effects including gastrointestinal distress, nausea, and constipation. As a solution, this research aims test a new novel, food-based iron-yeast supplement. The administration of iron as a part of a pasteurized nutrition yeast is thought to shift the site of absorption (from upper to lower gastrointestinal tract), enhance iron absorption and result in fewer side effects. The purpose of this research study is to determine if 8 weeks of consuming a yeast-iron complex-fortified cookie every other day can improve iron status and if that may improve exercise status. We are also interested in assessing how our unique supplement influences the bacteria that reside in the gastrointestinal tract (i.e., the gut microbiome).


Currently recruiting participants: Yes

Eligible ages: 14 to 17

Accepts healthy participants: Yes

Inclusion criteria:

To participate in this study, participants must meet the following criteria:

1. Aged 14-17y
2. Biologically female and at least one year past your first period
3. Sub-optimal ferritin levels (<60 μg/L)
4. Engage in moderate-vigorous endurance exercise for 3 or more hours per week
5. Complete and pass the Get Active Questionnaire (GAQ)
6. Provide informed consent for the participation in this study.
7. Have access to a smartphone.

Exclusion criteria:

Participants will be excluded from the study if they meet any of the following criteria:

1. Non-English speaking
2. Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant for the duration of the study
3. Antibiotics use within 4 weeks prior to study enrollment
4. Current laxative use
5. Regular prebiotic, probiotic, or synbiotic use within 4 weeks of study enrollment
6. Current consume an iron containing supplement
7. Are a smoker or use tobacco products
8. Consume >21 units of alcohol per week
9. Have donated blood in the previous 3 months
10. Have a BMI <16 but >30kg/m2
11. Are dieting for weight loss or are following a low carbohydrate diet
12. Have participated in another clinical trial within the 30 days preceding study enrollment.
13. Are taking medications known to affect cardiovascular or metabolic responses to exercise such as beta-blockers, anti-coagulants etc. as assessed by the Principal Investigator.
14. Have any of the following conditions: renal or gastrointestinal disorders, metabolic disease, heart disease, vascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, poor lung function, uncontrolled blood pressure, dizziness, thyroid problems, or any other health conditions that are being treated and deemed to be able to significantly interfere with study intervention and assessment in the opinion of the Principal Investigator and Qualified Investigator
15. Have current musculoskeletal injuries that limit exercise capacity
16. Self-identifying with any kidney or gastrointestinal issues, metabolic disorders, cardiac conditions, vascular illnesses, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, compromised lung function, unregulated blood pressure, episodes of dizziness, thyroid complications, or any other health conditions under treatment that might potentially interfere with the study results
17. Orthopaedic issues that limit exercise ability
18. Currently/last 3 months taking prescription medications that are known to affect iron absorption (i.e. Antacids/PPIs (e.g., omeprazole), H2 Blockers (e.g., ranitidine), Tetracycline Antibiotics (e.g., doxycycline), Quinolone Antibiotics (e.g., ciprofloxacin), Cholestyramine, Colchicine, Methyldopa.)
19. Allergies to the cookie ingredients
20. Currently/last 3 months taking iron containing supplements.


Fill out the following form if you want to participate in this research

Method of contact

Additional information

Contact information

Keely Shaw

Principal investigator:

Jane Shearer, Vice-Chair

Clinical trial: