By Dr. Molly Brass, ND
08 Feb 2019
Most of our bodyâ€™s supply of iron is found in our blood, so when we donate blood we lose iron. Our bone marrow replaces this blood using the iron stored in our liver.
A single donation takes approximately 10% of our blood. The iron lost is equivalent to an average femaleâ€™s entire supply of stored iron and a quarter of a manâ€™s iron supplyÂ (1). If we donâ€™t replenish our iron stores before donating again we will become iron deficient. Iron deficiency symptoms include fatigue, restless leg syndrome, bruising, hair loss, and impaired concentration.
Before giving blood, a potential donor has a finger prick test for hemoglobin: the iron-containing protein that carries oxygen to tissues. A normal hemoglobin reading allows the donation to proceed. However, a hemoglobin test doesnâ€™t reflect iron stores as accurately as testing ferritin, the major iron storage protein in the body. In a recent study of 12,000 Canadian donors, ferritin testing revealed 65% of repeat female donors and 42% of repeat male donors had low iron storesÂ (2).
Iron supplementation can replenish iron stores more quickly than an iron-rich diet alone. If you donate blood, inform your doctor so that your iron levels can be monitored.
Blood donors with a higher risk of iron deficiency include:
â€“ people following a vegan or vegetarian diet
â€“ women with heavy or prolonged menstruation
â€“ individuals with impaired absorption (e.g. celiac disease, past gastric bypass surgery)
â€“ people on long-term proton pump inhibitor therapy
Replenish Your Body
See how you can benefit from our unique line of products.
Find a Store
Find our products at your nearest PLV retailer.