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  • Hemoglobin too low, couldn't donate blood



    I feel like a total reject! I've been donating blood every two months since I was 18 years old, and today my hemoglobin level was beneath the required 12.5. The first test was 12.2, the second test was 11.7. Two months ago, I was 14.5.


    Of course, the nurse asked if I'd changed my diet, and I told her that I no longer eat grains or sugar. She seemed mystified, as am I.


    After doing a little research, the primal foods that are on the American Red Cross iron-rich list are: shrimp, beef, spinach, tomatoes, and broccoli. I eat all those foods regularly, even more than I did before I started eating primally 3 months ago. Anyone have any additional advice for me?


  • #2
    1



    I am not a doctor, but I do teach Anatomy, so I play one in my classroom Low hemoglobin can be due to anemia, excess hydration, hemorrhage, or pregnancy. I am assuming you would be aware of the last two, so maybe excessive hydration if you have no symptoms of anemia?

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    • #3
      1



      Thank you for putting on your doctor hat, lbd. My daughters are always chiding me for not drinking enough water, so this morning it was unusual for me to drink about 10 oz. of water before heading off to the Bloodmobile. But I always do that before donating, so excessive hydration seems unlikely.


      Definitely not pregnant, and I'm unaware of any hemorrhages, my energy levels are fine, so this is mysterious. I found a chart, and I'm just on the low side for my gender and age (F, 54) so I don't think I'm anemic.


      From http://www.medicinenet.com/hemoglobin/page2.htm

      The normal ranges for hemoglobin depend on the age and, beginning in adolescence, the gender of the person. The normal ranges are:


      Newborns: 17-22 gm/dl


      One (1) week of age: 15-20 gm/dl


      One (1) month of age: 11-15gm/dl


      Children: 11-13 gm/dl


      Adult males: 14-18 gm/dl


      Adult women: 12-16 gm/dl


      Men after middle age: 12.4-14.9 gm/dl


      Women after middle age: 11.7-13.8 gm/dl

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      • #4
        1



        I have been having similar difficulties. When I go to give blood... I /just/ pass. I fail the drop test, but the machine says I'm just good enough. Which is wierd, because I eat lots of iron rich meat. I suppose I should count myself into the middle aged and heading towards 'after'. So maybe that's normal.


        On the other hand, they also give you your overall cholesterol score. Mine was 127.

        Start weight: 250 - 06/2009
        Current weight: 199
        Goal: 145

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        • #5
          1



          I'm always anemic... but then again, I'm only just starting to eat meat. If it persists, your doctor will probably want to check you for internal bleeding (perhaps endoscopy and colonoscopy)... slow leaks add up, it doesn't need be a major hemorrhage. I will never donate blood again as the last time I did, when I was at the minimum level allowed, I ended up needing iron transfusions.

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          • #6
            1



            I can't give blood either... my veins are just way too small and my blood flow is slow.

            I had to fill several vials for tests at the hospital and it took forever... and when I had to get an IV placed for my surgery in June, it took 3 different people and 3 different veins before they finally got one in....


            So my question - somewhat related to the topic - is what's a person to do if they can't donate blood, to get rid of excess iron and whatnot that is "solved" by regularly giving blood?


            It also just sucks that I can't help people in that way, but ... oh well.

            Eating lots but still hungry? Eat more fat. Mid-day sluggishness? Eat more fat. Feeling depressed or irritable? Eat more fat. People think you've developed an eating disorder? Eat more fat... in front of them.

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            • #7
              1



              You help people in so many other ways, FNW <3

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              • #8
                1



                aw thanks teri.

                but what about a different way to reduce excess iron in the blood?


                leeches? hehehhe. grossssssss. those suckers are nasty and they HURT too.

                Eating lots but still hungry? Eat more fat. Mid-day sluggishness? Eat more fat. Feeling depressed or irritable? Eat more fat. People think you've developed an eating disorder? Eat more fat... in front of them.

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                • #9
                  1



                  I didn&#39;t know there was such a thing as too much iron in the blood.

                  Start weight: 250 - 06/2009
                  Current weight: 199
                  Goal: 145

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                  • #10
                    1



                    Yep, if blood levels of iron get too high, your body dumps it in the liver, where doesn&#39;t usually do too much harm. But if the liver gets filled up, that&#39;s no good. Iron starts getting sent elsewhere, to the heart muscle, the pancreas, etc. At that point it can wreak true havoc, causing cirrhosis, liver cancer, diabetes, cardiomyopathy, and a whole bunch of other unpleasantness.


                    Iron overload is most often the result of genetic mutations in a handful of genes involved in iron metabolism. These mutations cause you to absorb/retain more iron than you need from your diet. The pattern of inheritance is most often recessive, meaning that you need to have inherited mutated genes from both parents. (A single mutated gene may actually confer an advantage, as it protects against anemia.)


                    HH can start to affect men in their 40s-50s, but women are spared a little longer because menses naturally keeps iron levels a little lower. Phlebotomy (removal of blood) is the main treatment. Unfortunately, once diagnosed with HH, blood banks won&#39;t accept your blood for donation. For that reason some people with a family history of HH choose to donate regularly beginning in early adulthood, which will prevent them from ever developing HH.

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                    • #11
                      1



                      FNW, there really aren&#39;t any good options aside from blood donation. Do you have reason to think your iron is on the high side? If so, skip vitamins with iron and rely on food for iron intake.


                      During pregnancy, high normal iron levels will be to your benefit, but you might wish to avoid supplemental iron even during pregnancy, unless you start trending towards anemia. Yeah, yeah, I know prenatals all have iron, and your caregiver will grumble if you stop taking them. But really, the only things you might need during pregnancy are extra folate in early pregnancy, vitamin D, maybe calcium if dietary intake is low, and omega-3&#39;s.

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                      • #12
                        1



                        I did a little more reading on this last night, and have realized some things that might help me easily raise my iron levels. It seems that I&#39;m already eating lots of iron-rich foods (eggs, beef, liver, Brussels sprouts, spinach) but not taking in important nutrients that allow me to absorb it. Plus, I may be drinking too much coffee, which leaches iron.


                        My current multi-vitamin does not have iron in it. I&#39;m adding an additional multi-vitamin to my supplements, but instead of taking it in the morning when I take my calcium pill, I&#39;m going to take this one in the evening as calcium leaches iron. I&#39;ve also cut all fruit out of my diet, and cut way back on tomatoes, so I&#39;m probably not getting enough Vitamin C, which is required to absorb iron. I never knew that, so I&#39;m going to add tomatoes back to my eating plan. So this new vitamin has iron, C, and B12, which is also important for iron absorption.

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                        • #13
                          1



                          Pikaia I&#39;m not worried or anything... I just know that for long-term health it&#39;s a good idea to donate now and then. High iron levels (which naturally happens if you live for a long time) are linked to all sorts of diseases in older age.


                          And "women naturally keep iron levels lower" ... I wonder if that&#39;s because most women eat less meat than men... but doesn&#39;t really go for me. haha.

                          Eating lots but still hungry? Eat more fat. Mid-day sluggishness? Eat more fat. Feeling depressed or irritable? Eat more fat. People think you've developed an eating disorder? Eat more fat... in front of them.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            1



                            Sharonll - I think you might have hit the nail w/ the stuff on absorption. Just like calcium requires Vitamin D to absorb, Iron is sensitive to Vitamin C and B12.


                            If you think about it, for meats, one of the best sources of iron is in organ foods (esp. liver) which ALSO happen to be a great source of vitamin C & B12. So, theoretically, if you&#39;re eating the "whole" animal incl. the organs, plus cooking minimally (since Vitamin C tends to be destroyed by heat), you&#39;d be enjoying the best absorption.


                            The more I read about organ meats the more I think it&#39;s critical for us to consume them, esp. for those who are going very low-carb or "carnivore"-like in their foods.

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                            • #15
                              1



                              Fortunately, I love liver, so I think I&#39;ll raise my consumption of it. Just got some nice grass fed beef liver, so I&#39;m having that for supper tonight. I&#39;m going to work hard at increasing my hemoglobin for the next two months, and I&#39;ll update when the bloodmobile comes back in two months.

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