Red blood cells, running and iron supplementation

Most years when I get my blood work from my physical I’m most eager to check the cholesterol, especially in the last two years since starting Soylent (This year 201 total, 111 HDL, 80 LDL… 4th year in a row with higher HDL than LDL).

As a runner and endurance athlete as well as being prompted by the extreme lethargy I felt after a “double red” blood cell donation a few weeks back I decided to take a closer look at my red blood cell and hemoglobin count…

It seems I’ve always been on the low side…

RBC (4.20-5.80 norm)
2013 4.42
2014 4.63
2015 4.61
2016 4.16 (ten days after double red donation)

Hemoglobin (13.2-17.1 norm)
2013 13.4
2014 14.1
2015 13.9
2016 12.7 (ten days after double red donation)

I can’t seem to find ferritin levels in any of these tests.

As an endurance athlete, I would guess higher RBC/Hemoglobin numbers would be beneficial…
As I seem to be consistently on the low side, should I consider an iron supplement?
I do get at least 2000kcal of Soylent (powder+2.0) every day.


Taking excess iron has been shown to be kinda bad, but on the other hand athletes tend to have low iron more often than non-athletes (example source). So, since your RBC and hemoglobin are both on the low side, seems worth it. When will your blood work be done next? It would be nice to try it for a month or two then get the blood work done and see if your numbers improve.

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Good resource, thanks!
Yeah I really wish I’d known to ask for the serum ferritin check when they did my CBC (which I also had to ask for… Seems blood cell counts aren’t required anymore).

I’m also bummed the whole Theranos thing blew up… If I could get many of these tests for a few bucks and a few drops of blood I’d be checking this stuff all the time!

Dug deep in my records and found data from 2003 before I started running. While my HDL cholesterol was terrible, my WBC count was 7.4 and my RBC was 5.15… Both substantially higher than at any point since becoming an endurance athlete.