It is important to increase your iron intake in the weeks before you donate. Low hemoglobin disqualifies you from donating and it is tested prior to blood donation. 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
We will test hemoglobin prior to donation.
What is hemoglobin?
Hemoglobin is a special protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen. According to the FDA, to donate blood, men must have a hemoglobin of at least 13 g/dL (grams per deciliter) and women a hemoglobin of at least 12.5 g/dL. This is to protect donors from becoming anemic when they give blood.
Common reasons for low reading:
- 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 low readings. Some health conditions are not readily apparent but may cause low iron levels in your body.
What can I do to add iron to my diet?
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 hemoglobin readings.
Following these steps 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.