Low Iron Levels

Photo of foods high in iron
Foods High in Iron

One of the most common reasons people are turned down from donating, which is called being deferred, is because of low-iron levels in the blood, which is known as anemia. This is especially true for women.

What You Can Do

  • Increase your intake of iron-rich foods, such as meat, green vegetables, seafood and others.
  • Drink orange juice or eat foods high in Vitamin C when eating iron-rich foods. Studies show this increases your body's ability to absorb iron.
  • Discuss taking an iron supplement with your healthcare provider.
  • Consider limiting your intake of tea and coffee before giving blood, as some studies indicate they may block the body's ability to absorb dietary iron.
  • Wait a week or two before trying to give blood again. Many people who eat more foods high in iron can increase their levels enough to be able to donate within a week or two of being deferred.

Foods High in Iron

  • Red meat
  • Dark, leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards)
  • Seafood (shrimp, oysters, clams, scallops, sardines)
  • Dried fruit (prunes, raisins)
  • Iron-enriched cereals and grains (check the labels)
  • Beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans
  • Eggs
  • Molasses