Have you ever been unable to donate blood or plasma at our blood center due to low iron levels? Most of our donors know that their iron levels have to be kept in a healthy level to donate blood, but don’t understand why healthy iron levels are important.
Iron is essential for our bodies. Without a sufficient amount of iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that makes it possible to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. If you do not have enough oxygen in your body, it will cause you to become tired and groggy. Iron also helps keep your hair, skin and nails healthy.
The Right Amount of Iron
Kids Ages 9-13: 8 mg each day
Men Ages 19-50: 8 mg each day
Women Ages 19-50: 18 mg each day
Women need a much higher amount of iron each day due to loss of blood each month for their menstrual cycle. It is more common for women to get turned away at donor centers for low iron, but we will provide you with tips to help boost iron levels for donation. Many pregnant women and young children have an iron deficiency. Anemia is a health condition that develops when your blood has a deficiency of red blood cells or of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin makes up two-thirds of the body’s iron levels.
Symptoms of Anemia:
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Rapid heart beat
It is best not take iron supplements without consulting with your doctor. We highly suggest going to the doctor to discuss iron supplements so he or she can recommend a certain dose based on your current state of health and iron levels. Though iron supplements are over the counter, it can be very unhealthy and dangerous to take too much iron. According to a New York Times health blog, the body cannot easily get rid of iron and will start depositing itself in the heart, pancreas and liver. This can cause liver cancer, cirrhosis, diabetes and arrhythmias. The only way to shed excess iron in your body is by donating blood.
Iron Rich Foods
- Beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans
- Red meat
- Liver (pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, beef)
- Mollusks (oysters, clams, scallops)
- Egg yolks
- Dark, leafy greens (spinach, collards)
- Dried fruit (prunes, raisins)
- Iron-enriched cereals and grains (check the labels for high iron)
- Squash and Pumpkin seeds
- Dark Chocolate (our favorite!)
If you have had problems with low iron levels when trying to donate blood in the past, try adding the above foods to your diet a couple of weeks prior to your blood donation. Schedule a blood donation appointment at your local Carter blood center today, and start boosting your iron levels!