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Healthy Iron Levels for Women 

Sara Martinez
May 14, 2024 

Low iron levels can be an indicator of iron-deficiency anemia, a condition most common in women. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin, the substance in your red blood cells that carries oxygen. Without enough iron in the bloodstream, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin to get the oxygen it needs.

How much iron do women need?

On average, a woman needs 18 mg of iron a day to maintain normal iron levels. This amount is different for men because they tend to store more iron in their bodies than women.

What is a normal iron level for women?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a normal blood iron level is between 10 to 30 micromoles per liter.

The amount of hemoglobin in your blood is also commonly used as an indicator of the iron stores in your body. A normal hemoglobin range for women is generally defined as 12 to 16 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter of blood.

To donate whole blood, female donors must have a range of 12.5 to 20 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter of blood. Prior to donating, your hemoglobin levels will be tested to make sure you can donate that day.

Ready to donate? Find a blood drive near you.

What is iron-deficiency anemia?

If your body has low iron levels, you can develop a type of anemia called iron-deficiency anemia.

Iron-deficiency anemia is a result of not having enough iron in your body to make a healthy amount of red blood cells. Without enough red blood cells, your body cannot carry enough of the oxygen that it needs from your lungs to the rest of your body.

There are several factors that make iron-deficiency anemia more common in women, including pregnancy, significant menstrual bleeding, and uterine fibroids.

The NHLBI states that, “Girls and women between ages 14 and 50 tend to need more iron than boys and men of the same age.” According to the World Health Organization, nearly 30% of women ages 15-49 suffered from anemia in 2019.

If you have mild or moderate iron-deficiency anemia, you may not have any signs. If you have a more severe case, common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, or even chest pain.

Pink iron supplement pills laying on top of an image of the periodic element for iron

How can you increase your iron levels?

If your iron-deficiency anemia is caused by low iron body reserves, it can often be corrected with a change in diet. You can try adding more iron-rich foods, including:

  • cooked or raw dark leafy greens
  • prunes or raisins
  • red meats or fish
  • pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • watermelon

See our complete list of recommended iron-rich foods. Try pairing these with foods high in Vitamin C, like oranges, papaya, or blueberries. Vitamin C can help your body absorb iron.

Iron supplements and even blood transfusions are other ways to combat low iron levels. If you are concerned about your iron levels, you may want to speak with your doctor and test your iron.

Did you know you can get a free iron test when you donate blood? Before you donate, you will receive a wellness check that includes an iron screening to ensure your hemoglobin levels are adequate for you to be able to donate blood.

Stay on top of your health while helping others in need! Schedule your next blood donation appointment today.

Sara Martinez, OneBlood Digital Marketing Specialist

Sara Martinez 

Sara Martinez is a Digital Marketing Specialist at OneBlood. From creating strategic online campaigns to writing engaging stories, she is passionate about raising awareness to inspire others and helping make a difference in our community. #ShareYourPower

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