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Giving Blood/Iron


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On Monday I will be donating blood.  This is my third time and the other two times my iron level was low, but acceptable to the Red Cross' standards.  What diet-friendly foods can I eat to knock up my iron intake?  I do not want to be turned away.

Also, should I take giving blood into consideration as far as my caloric consumption is concerned?  I was just going to eat/drink whatever they gave me there and call it even.
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#1  
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I have been declined once for iron deficiency, after being told twice that my iron was low.  My doctor, and the Red Cross, suggested many foods (you can see them here).  After I was 'warned' by the Red Cross, I increased my intake of iron rich foods, but not regularly enough.  When I was declined I spoke with my doctor...he suggested I take an iron supplement, which did not help much in my increase of iron, so I stopped taking it.  I'm very careful to consume many naturally iron rich foods, and that seems to make a bigger difference than taking the supplement.  I'm not anemic, but 'close enough' by the Red Cross' standards.

I don't know about the caloric consumption. :-P  I'm a big fan of the white cheddar cheez-its the Red Cross gives out up here, so I would down a couple bags of those and call it good myself. ;-)
I have donated many times and was rejected many times too due to iron deficiency. When I asked the nurse about it, she told me to eat a lot of beans, raisins and all that. Your nurse should give you a piece of paper that says you didn't donate due to iron deficiency (with your iron stat on it) and on the back, it has a list of food that you should eat to increase iron in your blood.

Another nurse also told me that drinking teas and coffees decrease iron in some people so if you are drinking teas/coffees, you might want to stop for a few days.

As of pills, well... I just don't like pills. =\ Keep on donating! (:

-Lemon Jello
to be honest, I think you should be worried more about the iron deficiency than dieting.. well I had to be because I'm a teenage-girl runner [the demographic MOST susceptible to anemia and iron deficiencies apparently]. just try to get more red meat in.. beef jerky's a great snack! and if your diet doesn't allow room for that, try high-iron vegetables--leafy greens like spinach. dried fruit is high in iron too. drinking a glass of orange juice with high-iron foods will help you to absorb them better. and AVOID coffee for now. hope that helped!
I went as soon as I was old enough to donate blood and was deffered because my iron was too low (like a 2).  They immideatly told me to go to my doctor to be checked for anemia.  Turns out I had anemia HORRIBLY.  I was put on a strict diet of clams,pork liver, Oysters, Chicken liver, Mussels, Beef liver, Beef, Shrimp, Sardines, Turkey, Enriched brekfast cereals, Cooked beans and lentils, Pumpkin seeds, Blackstrap Molasses, Canned beans, Bake potato with skin, Enriched pasta, Canned asparagus

Now, I wasn't willing to eat most of what was on this list but here are some really good ideas.

I was also put on a iron suplement, but it made me extremely sick so I pulled myself off of it.  When I go to donate blood I take my iron pills for 2 days before so that I can put more iron in my system the Red Cross said there was nothing wrong with that and that they would still accept the donation.  That might be a good option for you, they sell many over the counter iron supplements that you can take.

Good Luck!

-Laura Mae
#5  
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Have any of ya'll passed out from giving blood or almost passed out? I tried to give blood a few years back and was told I was borderline in iron but for some reason they let me give blood anyways. About 10 minutes into it, the room started spinning, and i couldnt squeeze the ball for the life of me. My face was white as the walls. I had nearly every nurses and attendants attention in the room and they started shoveling juice, crackers, and cookies in my direction.
Ahh, just the idea of it taking 10 minutes is bad enough (you can normally be done between 5-8 minutes) but fainting is bad... that's why I make sure to eat and drink before and after (even drink OJ during). This last time they poked around in my arm alot- the person didn't hit the vein right, so the needle popped out and poked a muscle... hurt like hell, and still does a bit, I had some wicked bruising too.
About a year ago, just after I stopped eating red meat, I was unable to donate because of my iron level.  I was not yet paying as much attention to nutrition as I do now, and was a bit sloppy about making sure I got all my needed nutrients.

A few months later I was doing enough better with nutrition that I was able to donate, but I passed out.  It was after I had filled the bag completely, they had clamped it off, but hadn't removed the needle yet.  One second I'm fine, the next they are yelling at me to tell them my name.  :)  I couldn't figure out why they were so freaked for a few seconds, as I didn't realize I had passed out.  I was apparently out for quite a few seconds, and they were agitated that I didn't come to immediately.

Since then I have really increased my whole foods consumption, and switched to pescetarianism.  But, I only eat fish once or twice a week.  I eat a lot of beans and legumes though, and as much green leafy veggies I can get.  Last week I donated again and my little test blob literally flew down to the bottom of the blue test vial.  :)  And, I felt perfectly fine throughout the process, biked home from work with no problem at all. 

No iron supplements, no red meat, no meat at all except the occasional seafood.  It can be done!  :) 

And yes, you should consume at least at maintenance calories on the day you donate, your body will need the extra nutrition as well as additional water to help build the blood supply back up.
Haha, it's funny that you mention passing out.  My first time donating I almost fainted after they removed the needle from my arm.  I didn't fully pass out but I was pretty close.  The nurse told me I filled the bag too quickly (about 5 minutes) and should refrain from squeezing the ball in the future. 

I should also mention that I've never been told that my iron is low; but they scrutinize the test blood so much that I figure it's borderline.  Last time the nurse had to get a second opinion, but she also mentioned she was new.  This time I will specifically ask how my iron level is.

Unfortunately, I cannot bring myself to eat any type of liver (gross!), but I do have some steak that I would gladly cook up.  Maybe this is an excuse to try more seafood as I've only ever eaten shrimp.  Thanks for the advice!
Clams are a really excellent source of iron, although I eat them seldom.  For me it is more about the legumes, spinach, and vitamin C I tend to get at meals that keeps me doing well on the iron front.

http://www.fwhc.org/iron.htm
http://www.uhs.uga.edu/nutrition/iron.html
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-Fact/5000/5559.ht ml
When I was anemic I was put on iron pills. One then two then three... they weren't working. Later I found out that your body needs a good amount of vitamin C to absorb the iron (otherwise you are just peeing it out). So make sure you are taking in enough Vitamin C with your iron rich food!

=>
Spinach and broccoli...apparently mushrooms with spinach aid the iron absorption but vitamin C hinders it...something like that.
Well, I had my 2nd blood draw for this month today (checking on the anemia) turns out that my levels have dropped DRASTICALLY again (in the alst 2 weeks went from a 12 or 13 to a 4.  I havn't changed my diet or antyhing except i'm consuming a few less calories.  I know that your period can effect your iron levels but that was 2 weeks ago DURING my last blood draw.  They want me to go have some kind of biopsy done to see if my liver isn't letting my body absorb it or what, they also want me back on the pills :( ... I really hope they don't make me as sick this time around.  No blood donation next month if my levels don't improve

:(

Hope all the best with donations!

-Laura Mae
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