There are some guidelines of what to expect when giving blood and some of those include nutrients components that you can "beef up" with your daily diet. That said, since I have been in attempts to shun meat and don't eat many fortified foods, who knows if I will even make the cut? And by that, I mean will my hemoglobin, hematocrit, and blood count be high enough? Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Therefore, it is of huge importance to the function of blood in the body. Hematocrit is a test which gives you a percentage form showing the number of red blood cells as well as the size of the cells. Your blood is not all actual red blood cells, so knowing the percentage tells quite a bit about your blood count. The general guidelines are as follows:
Acceptable if you have a hemoglobin at or above 12.5 g/dL.Luckily my hemoglobin came in at a solid 13.8 g/dL. Thank you double serving of Cheerios and Rice Dream this morning! However, young Melissa fell short of the mark in the blood iron exhibition and was banished to the waiting room to eat jelly beans and contemplate politics. So here's how one could prevent that from happening in the future. Basically, make sure to incorporate food iron sources into your diet on a regular basis but more actively so the week or few days before you plan to donate. It is plentiful not only in animal sources (Heme iron) but in many vegetarian and vegan sources (non-Heme iron) for those who don't do meat or are avoiding red meat for health reasons or personal preference. There are also tricks to increase your absorption. Do you get enough? The RDA is as follows:
Acceptable if you have a hematocrit at or above 38%.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron for non-vegetarian pre-menopausal women is 18 mg/day. The RDA for non-vegetarian men and post-menopausal women is 8 mg/day. Because of iron absorption issues in a healthful, high-fiber vegetarian diet, the RDAs for vegetarians are higher - 14 mg/day for vegetarian men and 33 mg/day for vegetarian women. The upper level of intake should not exceed 45mg/day.A simple google search can show you a little over a half million lists of iron rich foods. I enjoy this one the most as it organizes all the listings into nice neat little columns:
|FOOD||AMOUNT||AVG. MG. IRON|
|GRAINS||Bread (white or whole wheat)||1 slice||0.5|
|Cooked cereal||1/2 cup||0.7|
|Dry cereal||3/4 cup||read label|
|Wheat germ||1/2 cup||4|
|MEAT||Organ meats||3 oz.||7|
|Liver sausage||3 oz.||4-6|
|Red meats||3 oz.||4|
|Fish and poultry||3 oz.||2-3|
|MEAT SUBSTITUTES||Tofu||4 oz.||2.3|
|Sunflower seeds||1 oz.||2|
|Pumpkin seeds||1 oz.||3.2|
|Cooked dry peas (beans, lentils, lima beans)||1/2 cup||2-3|
|Peanut butter||1 tbsp.||0.3|
|FRUIT||Water melon||6" x 1/2" slice||3|
|DRIED FRUIT||Raisins, dates, prunes, figs, apricots||1/2 cup||3-4|
|JUICES (CANNED)||Prune juice||3/4 cup||7.4|
|Tomato juice||3/4 cup||1.6|
|Apple juice||3/4 cup||1.1|
|VEGETABLES||Cooked dark leafy greens (spinach, collards, kale)||1/2 cup||3|
|Raw dark leafy greens (spinach, collards, kale)||1 cup||2|
|Brewer's yeast (dry)||1 tbsp.||1.4|
|FAST FOODS||Pizza (cheese or pepperoni)||1/2 of 10"||4.5-5.4|
Therefore, Miss Melissa can have a nice dinner of naturally iron abundant or iron-fortified foods tonight and attempt once again tomorrow!
And you should too if you are healthy and eligible to donate. New York is currently experiencing a shortage of blood and blood products (also reported by the Red Cross with a chance to win Yankees v. Red Sox tickets...) and you never really know when you are going to be on the receiving end. Instant Karma!
~beth who is stoked to finally know her blood type and will donate again in 56 to 60 days!