Blood donors should be Strong As Iron

Protecting your health is important to us, which is why we check your hemoglobin/hematocrit before you donate. Each time you donate a unit of blood, it removes iron from your body. Iron is a part of hemoglobin, which is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to nourish the tissues throughout your body.
 
It is important to maintain a healthy iron level so your body can build new red blood cells daily, and replace the ones you donate. Iron is also important for normal growth and development, energy level and brain function.
 
Recommendations for a successful donation:
  • Replace iron loss by taking an oral iron supplement daily for 60 days immediately following your donation. We recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) supplement or multivitamin containing 18mg of elemental iron per day.
  • Although iron supplements are safe and compatible with most medications, consult your doctor or pharmacist if iron is appropriate if you are taking other medications.
  • You should not take iron if you have hereditary hemochromatosis or other diseases or conditions related to iron overload.
  • Eat a nutritious diet rich in iron and vitamin C.

Iron for Blood Donors

Why is iron important?

It is important to keep a healthy iron level so your body can build new red blood cells daily and also replace those you donate. Iron is also important for normal growth and development, energy level, and brain function.

Should I take an iron supplement?

Yes. Replace iron loss by taking an oral iron supplement daily for 60 days immediately following your blood donation. We recommend taking an over-the-counter (OTC) supplement or multivitamin containing 18mg of elemental iron per day.

How long does it take to restore iron post-donation?

Approximately 6 months or more with a healthy diet. 1-2 months with an iron supplement.

Can I overdose on iron? 

No, if the iron supplementation is taken as recommended.

Are hemoglobin and iron the same thing?

No! Hemoglobin is the protein that functions within red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is an essential mineral important for the structure and function of hemoglobin and several other proteins in the body. 

What is the difference between testing for hemoglobin and testing for iron?

Your hemoglobin level tells us how many red blood cells are circulating in your body right now, and how much will be left after you donate one unit of blood. 

When iron is measured by ferritin level, it is an indicator of the body’s total iron stores and therefore your capacity to make more red blood cells to replace the ones you’ve donated. 

Ferritin testing must be performed at a laboratory and cannot be performed at the time of your donation. Blood centers are now evaluating how to utilize this test in assessing a donor’s ability to be a frequent blood donor.

Post Donation

How long will it take to replace my iron?

Approximately 6 months or more with a healthy diet.  1-2 months with an iron supplement. Replace iron loss by taking an oral iron supplement daily for 60 days immediately following your blood donation. We recommend taking an over-the-counter (OTC) supplement or multivitamin containing 18mg of elemental iron per day.