Low Iron

Some donors, especially women, struggle with a lack of iron – or low hemoglobin in their bodies.

Iron is needed for your body to produce hemoglobin. This is important because the hemoglobin in your red blood cells carries the oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body.

If your body does not have enough iron, you may develop iron deficiency anemia. Having iron deficiency results in fewer red blood cells being produced by your body and less oxygen is transported from your lungs, making you feel tired.

Your hemoglobin level plays a role in your ability to give blood and must be at a certain level to donate. We will check your hemoglobin levels and if the count is too low you will not be able to donate that day.

The good news is that low iron is usually a temporary condition and can often be improved simply by eating more iron rich foods. If this does not help, you can also consult with your physician about taking an iron supplement.

Meat is one of the best sources of iron. Dried beans, fortified cereals and breads as well as dark leafy vegetables are also good sources of iron. Dried fruits, nuts and seeds make healthy snacks and can also help improve iron levels.

Iron Rich Foods

On average, a woman needs 18 mg iron a day and a man needs 10 mg. See the table below for a basic reference for iron rich foods:

FOOD AMOUNT AVG. MG. IRON
GrainsGrains Wheat germ
English Muffin
Bran Muffin
Tortillas
Cooked Cereal
Bread (white or whole wheat)
Dry cereal
1/2 cup
1
1
1
1/2 cup
1 slice
3/4 cup
4
1.5-1.9
1.5
1
0.7
0.5
Read Label
MeatMeat Liver
Organ meats
Liver Sausage
Shellfish
Red meats
Fish and Poultry
3 oz.
3 oz.
3 oz.
3 oz.
3 oz.
3 oz.
8-9
7
4-6
4-5
4
2-3
Meat SubstitutesMeat Substitutes Pumpkin seeds
Tofu
Cooked dry peas
(beans, lentils, lime beans)
Sunflower seeds
Nuts
Eggs
Peanut butter
1 oz.
4 oz.
1/2 cup

1 oz.
1/3 cup
1
1 tbsp.
3.2
2.3
2-3

2
0.5-2.0
1
0.3
Fruit and JuicesFruit & Juices Prune juice
Raisins, dates, prunes
Figs, apricots
Watermelon
Tomato juice
Strawberries
Apple juice
Banana
3/4 cup
1/2 cup
1/2 cup
6" x 1/2" slice
3/4 cup
1 cup
3/4 cup
1 cup
7.4
3-4
3-4
3
1.6
1.5
1.1
1
VegetablesVegetables Cooked dark leafy greens
(spinach, collards, kale)
Raw dark leafy greens
(spinach, collards, kale)
Jicama
1/2 cup

1 cup

1/3 cup
3

2

0.8
Fast FoodsFast Foods Pizza (cheese or pepperoni)
Beef burrito
Beef taco
Bean burrito
Hamburger
Cheeseburger
1/2 of 10"
1
1
1
1 reg.
1 reg.
4.5-5.4
4.6
2.9
2.8
2.5
2.5
 

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