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Prepare for a healthy donation

Get ready to give a life-saving gift to someone in need! Careful preparation, good nutrition, and a healthy iron-rich diet are the first steps to a great blood donation experience.

For blood donors, iron is needed to make new red blood cells to replace those lost during donation—using iron either already in your body (called iron stores) or available from the food you eat. 

Maintaining an adequate reserve of iron

If you are a regular donor (women who give two or more times per year, and men who give three or more times per year), you may consider taking multivitamins with iron, or iron supplements that can be purchased over the counter at your local pharmacy. Current dosing recommendations vary—consult your physician or pharmacist to determine what dose, type, and duration of iron supplement to choose, and to determine whether taking supplements is right for you.

Including iron in your diet

Dietary iron can be found in the following foods:

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Iron-fortified cereals
  • Whole Grains
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Dark green vegetables

Iron loss affects each donor differently

Women naturally have a lower hemoglobin level than men. In fact, many pre-menopausal women have only a small amount of iron stored in their body, which may not be enough to replace the red blood cells lost from even a single donation. As a result, female blood donors are often deferred more than men because of low hemoglobin.

Learn More

Download the Iron and Blood Donation brochure
Find iron-rich recipes on Memorial Blood Centers’ Pinterest page 
Read about Memorial Blood Centers participation in a Iron Depletion and Replacement Study