Low Iron

While iron deficiency will defer you from donating blood, including iron-rich foods in your diet can help prevent or correct iron loss

It happens about 10% of the time: people who are eager to donate blood through our 3 Lives blood drive program are deferred because their hemoglobin count is too low. Since iron is the critical mineral used by the body to form hemoglobin, and hemoglobin is the primary component of oxygen-rich blood cells, low iron means less oxygen circulating through the body. That’s why people with iron deficiency anemia typically feel tired and weak.

Low iron is commonly the result of a nutritional deficiency that can be addressed simply by eating more foods rich in iron. See a list of foods below – some might surprise you! However, the body doesn’t absorb iron from vegetable sources as readily as from animal sources, so vegetarians and vegans need to watch their iron intake carefully.

Your doctor can also indicate if an iron supplement would be right for you, or if there is another factor reducing the iron in your system.

The Foods (1)

  • High (4 to 9 mg of iron per serving): red meat, organ meats like liver, shell fish, prune juice
  • Moderate (2 to 4 mg): fish and poultry, wheat germ, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, cooked legumes, raisins, dates, prunes, figs, watermelon, cooked dark leafy greens like spinach, cooked legumes like beans/peas
  • Fair (1 to 2 mg): muffins, eggs, nuts, strawberries, bananas, apple/tomato juice
  • Note: Many foods like cereals are iron-fortified, meaning iron has been added. Read the labels to find out if these foods are good sources of iron.

The 4-1-1 on Low Iron

  • Who: anyone
  • What: less iron means lower hemoglobin production which means less oxygen in the body
  • When: anytime someone eats a less than optimum diet or suffers from certain conditions, such as some gastrointestinal issues
  • How: increase your intake of iron rich foods like those listed above; speak to your physician for more information about treating iron deficiency
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