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Rita G is sailing

Give blood
A question about this goal: As a vegetarian how can i improve my hemoglobin levels to become an acceptable donor? November 8th, 2007 10:43


Pages: 1

Your hematocrit depends on the level of iron in your blood. Normally I’d say to chow down on red meat, but being a vegetarian gets in the way of that, doesn’t it?

Try eating lots of bran flakes and lentils. You can Google “iron rich foods” and lots of lists will come up.

Good for you for wanting to donate blood!

hey! i’m also a vegetarian so after donating a bunch of times, there were 2 times where my hemoglobin was too low to donate.
the best advice i can offer you is to take iron supplements…usually multivitamins have a huge amount of iron in them. i eat fish, so thats another good way to up your iron levels.
the blood bank had a really good handout with lists of foods that are good and bad, and the amounts of iron they have.

If you eat fish you are NOT a vegetarian.
Just check out the vegetarian society’s website if you don’t believe me.
I think if you make the decision to become a vegatarian you should at least know what one is!!!
This really gets my goat

I am a pescatarian only because after meeting with my doctor I was in a preanemic state. The reason I became “vegetarian” wasn’t to be ra ra don’t kill animals-political activist but because of religious beliefs. Jews do not consider fish to be meat, so while according to the vegetarian society i may not be a pure vegetarian but a pescatarian, according to Judaism, I am….and that’s more important to me.
don’t wanna start a fight…just defend myself and explain.

I agree with kristenkaye. I used to be a vegetarian, and there were times when I could not give blood, due to low iron. Taking iron supplements is the best way to battle that, or else yes, find iron-rich foods. But I always found the supplements to be the easiest route.

And yes, talk to the people at the blood center about it, as they will have loads of good suggestions for you.

You can do it! It’s a great feeling to know you are helping up to three people with every pint! :)

Spinach is a slightly controversial answer but it seems to work for me (I’m vegetarian and I had no problem giving blood).

spinach!! and if you sautee it in a cast iron skillet this will supposedly add more iron. lots of beans. i think black beans have a good amount of iron. a supplement like “slow fe” found at the drug store will also be beneficial. good luck

I didn’t know there was controversy surrounding spinach?

Rita G is sailing

Well it is quite a controversy indeed…
Despite what Popeye led a lot of people to believe (includding me)spinach is not particularly rich in iron.
The idea that it contained exceptional levels of iron resulted from a misplaced decimal point leading the figures to remain unchangelled until 1937 :(
So spinach has about the same iron content as any other green vegetable(and sadly enough it also contains oxalic acid, which prevents more than 90 percent of the iron from being absorbed by the body)

Ahhh. I have learned something new thanks to 43 Things! Thanks!

I know about this! I completely depleted my iron stores donating, and ended up making myself anemic.

A lot of fruits and vegetables have a lot of iron (broccoli, asparagus, oranges, cantaloupe, raisins, etc). But only CERTAIN multivitamins have iron in them—usually ones designed for women, since women are more prone to be low in iron. Check your multivitamin to see if there’s any iron content at all.

When I depleted my stores, they had me on iron supplements for about three months. Now I take iron for a week before donating, and maybe a few days after. You may want to get some iron supplements and take them for just a few days before donating. This will help keep your body from pulling iron out of stores to replace what’s been lost. Also, give yourself more time than they recommend to recover. This will help your body recover more fully.

Wheat grass juice!

lots of dark leafy greens or iron supplements will do the trick!

Todd Schoonover will miss all his 43T friends

I had a slow drop a couple times ago when I donated and then when I had my normal blood tests it came back slightly anemic. This was while I was working hard at dropping weight and wasn’t eating much red meat. My doctor told me that there are things you can eat that have iron in them like spinach, kidney beans, lentils that will give you the iron you need without having to eat a lot of meat, or in your case, any meat.


I learned something new! Apparently I had a slow drop, I didn’t know that meant you could be anemic! They just said if it FLOATS you’re anemic…hmm, I will have to keep an eye on it. Thanks!!!

A good thing to do is to also AVOID things that can lower your iron—caffiene is notorious for this. One morning I went to donate and specifically had a big iron-rich breakfast.. but I had also had some soda in the morning, and that was enough to disqualify me. So, try to avoid any sodas, energy drinks, coffee, tea or hell, even chocolate just to be safe before you donate that day.

There are some vegitarian friendly iron tablets that can help. In fact, I’ve found more sucess with iron tablets than I have with changing my diet.

I’m vegan and never had a problem with hemoglobin levels at all. My advice would be to add more iron rich food to your diet, like dark leafy greens. If that doesn’t do the trick you can try supplements, but a well-balanced vegetarian (and vegan) diet shouldn’t present any problem regarding your iron levels.

purplefibermom looking forward and not back

While many plant based foods do have iron – they may be more difficult for the body to store. Cooking in a cast iron pan is a great idea. Also – citrus can help your body absorb the iron in plant foods.

Here’s an article from Vegetarian Times for more detailed information

Nicole Forsi is skulking around 43 things

Couple of things I’ve been told to try:

Iron Supplement + vitamin C (no caffiene and no calcium)

Molasses – spoonfull a day in a glass of water or make an ice cube out of it and chomp down. Only have to do this the week before you try and donate. Ick.

Good luck. I’ve been rejected the last 3 times I’ve been in, but I’m gonna keep trying!

my nutritionist told me to take the iron supplement SLOW FE, which is released throughout the day.(but the max is 3 a day.. so, start with one)but be sure not to take too much. also the green veggies have a lot of iron, and also couliflour. there are a lot of foods that have iron added to them, like milk and orange juice… good luck

I’m vegan and have not had a problem with iron levels interfering with blood donating. If your iron is too low to donate, then your iron is too low, period, and that’s bad for you, especially as a woman. Like others have said, a balanced vegetarian/vegan diet provides all the iron you need, assuming you know where to look.
Taking vitamin/mineral supplements for deficiencies is generally a bad idea. For one thing, the supplements are often made from synthetic molecules, which are harder for your body to recognize. For another, taking a high concentration of a mineral makes it harder for your body to absorb it, because it increases blood iron levels too quickly. Also like others have said, decrease the foods in your diet that cause iron loss: refined grains, sodas, caffeines, etc. Incidentally, decreasing these same foods also makes it easier for your system to absorb calcium, again a good thing for you as a woman.
Ideally, the vitamins and minerals you need should come from whole foods, not synthetic molecules. And this is not harder on vegetarians who know how to eat properly. You do not have to eat beef to have good blood iron levels.

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