Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Ethan A. Bergman

Second Committee Member

Kelly Pritchett

Third Committee Member

Timothy Englund

Fourth Committee Member

Jeff Hashimoto


The purpose of the present study is to determine whether the circulating markers of iron status differ between vegetarian or non-vegetarian adolescent female high school cross-country runners. Fifteen non-vegetarian and six vegetarian female cross-country runners completed questionnaires used to obtain anthropometric data, health history, menstrual status, diet history and training history. Dietary intake was determined by self-report, using a food frequency questionnaire and a 3-day diet record. Blood samples were analyzed for serum iron, total iron binding capacity, serum ferritin, and transferrin saturation. No significant difference was found between vegetarians and non-vegetarians for serum iron or transferrin saturation. However, TIBC was significantly higher in vegetarians (p < 0.05). Ferritin was lower in vegetarians, trending toward significance (p < 0.10). Study results suggest the need for routine pre-season iron screenings as well as nutrition education, aimed at improving iron status for vegetarian and non-vegetarian adolescent female endurance athletes.