Add iron to your diet prior to blood donation

steakSeveral healthy people who signed up to give blood during Upstate University Hospital’s blood drive in October were turned away because of low levels of hemoglobin, a protein in the blood that carries oxygen.

Abnormally low hemoglobin — also known as anemia — can develop when your body does not make enough red blood cells or when you lose blood, such as through frequent blood donation. The most common cause of mild anemia is a low level of iron. And since your body will need to make new red blood cells after a donation, you especially need a healthy level of hemoglobin beforehand.

One way to increase your hemoglobin level is to eat a well-balanced diet with extra iron-rich foods prior to your donation date, say officials from the American Red Cross.

Heme and nonheme are the two forms of dietary iron.

Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin and is found in red meats, fish and poultry. It is absorbed better than nonheme iron, the type found in plant-based foods such as lentils, beans and vegetables.

Vegetables that are rich in iron include broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes, spinach and chard.

To help your body absorb iron, eat foods high in vitamin C, including leafy greens, peppers and citrus fruits.

The Red Cross recommends iron supplements for frequent blood donors. “Frequent” means:

* women age 16 to 50 who donate two or more times per year,

* women older than 50 who donate at least three times a year, or

* men who donate at least three times a year.

Upstate’s next blood drive takes place Jan. 8, 9 and 10.

The hospital’s Community campus hosts a blood drive from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9 in classroom A and B. Register by calling Upstate Connect at 315-464-8668.

The hospital’s Downtown campus hosts a drive from 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9 and from 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10 in Cafe 750 on the second floor of the hospital. Register by contacting Brenda Poehlman at 315-464-5738 or a

Learn about iron and blood donation

 List of iron-rich foods from the Office of Dietary Supplements

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