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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2014 Apr;54(2):179-85.

New parameters and reference values for monitoring iron status in Middle Eastern adolescent male athletes.

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Aspire Academy, Sport Science Department, Doha, Qatar -



Hematological and biochemical parameters of 160 Middle Eastern adolescent male athletes (aged from 12-18 years) were tested in order to investigate their iron status and to establish reference values for this population. A focus of this study was also the investigation of Reticulocyte hemoglobin (RetHe) and soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR).


Complete blood count, reticulocyte and sera parameters were analyzed at the beginning of the training season for these adolescent athletes. As the diagnosis of iron deficiency in adolescents is extremely difficult subjects were subdivided in three age groups (12-13, 14-15, 16-18).


For most of the parameters our results confirmed the existing reference values reported in young athletes. Exceptions were however found with lower Mean Cell Volumes (79.9±4.3 fl) in this group when compared to other age matched data. RetHe, ferritin and sTfR levels were monitored for the interpretation of the iron status in this population and reference values for these parameters were also established.


Information to help evidence based decision making about the need for supplementation or further investigations is provided to physicians and nutritionists. RetHe with a proposed threshold value of 25 pg expands the list of parameters which can be used to monitor athletes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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