Boost Your Iron Level - Before You Donate!

iron information graphicIt is important to increase your iron intake in the weeks before you donate. Low hematocrit is the most frequent reason those wanting to donate are disqualified. Low hematocrit can be related to a low iron level. The great news is that it is usually temporary!

How to help your body absorb iron:

- Add fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C can enhance the iron absorption by as much as 20 times.
- Refrain from tea drinks since tannic acid can interfere with iron absorption.

Recommended daily dietary iron intake:
Females 19 to 50 - 18 mg
Females 50 and over - 8 mg
Males 19 and over - 8 mg

What is hematocrit?

Hematocrit is the percentage of blood volume that is red blood cells. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), your hematocrit must be at least 38% to donate blood for another person. This is to protect donors from becoming anemic by donating blood.

Common reasons for low hematocrit (a possible sign of low iron) are:
- A low-iron diet
- Menstrual blood loss
- A diet low in folate, vitamin B6 or B12

People with chronic illnesses such as arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease may also have a low hematocrit. Some health conditions are not readily apparent but may cause a low hematocrit and possible low iron levels in your body.

What can I do if my diet seems to be the only reason for my low hematocrit?

Eat more of these high-iron foods:
- Red meat (especially liver), pork, chicken, turkey
- Fish and shellfish (oysters, clams, shrimp, scallops)
- Dried fruit (raisins, apricots, prunes, peaches)
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Beans, peas, nuts
- Iron-fortified breads and cereals

Eating foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruits, broccoli and tomatoes) helps in iron absorption. Avoid drinking tea while eating high-iron foods.  Coffee, milk, fiber and soy protein may also block the absorption of iron. Over-the-counter iron supplements can be taken after consulting with a doctor to determine the exact cause of low hematocrit.

Following the steps on the reverse side may help raise your percentage just a few points within just a few days. 

YOUR COMMITMENT TO BEING A LIFE-SAVING BLOOD DONOR IS IMPORTANT.

Bob Grant