Iron Information

Important Information about Iron Stores

Donors who give whole blood or an automated donation with red blood cells at least twice a year should consider taking a multivitamin with iron or an iron supplement.

Pump Up Your Iron Banner 648X270

Your body needs iron to make new red blood cells to replace those you lose from donating. Donating red blood cells regularly (at least twice a year) can reduce the iron stores in your body. The health impact of this iron loss can vary among donors.

Does The Blood Center measure my iron levels before I donate?
No. The Blood Center measures your hematocrit, which is the percentage of your total blood volume that is composed of red blood cells. (Iron is needed to make new red blood cells.) Your hematocrit level may be high enough for you to donate, but you could still have low iron stores. There is no simple way to measure your iron stores at the time of donation.

What can I do to maintain my iron stores?
The most important thing frequent donors can do to maintain their iron stores is to take a multivitamin with iron or an iron supplement. Your body can only absorb a limited amount of iron at a time; please talk to your pharmacist or physician about the appropriate type and dose of iron for your body.

Eating a diet that includes iron-rich foods can also help your body maintain its iron stores over time. However, simply eating iron-rich foods may not replace all of the iron lost with blood donation for donors who give whole blood or an automated donation with red blood cells at least twice a year.

What dose of iron supplement or multivitamin with iron should I take?

Iron supplements vary in name and proportion of iron within the tablet/caplet. The most effective dose, type of iron supplement, and length of treatment are currently being studied. Our current recommendation is 18-19 mg of iron once a day. Your physician or pharmacist may be able to assist you in deciding what dose, type and duration of iron supplement to choose.

Because people have a limit in iron absorption (i.e., 2 to 4 mg per day), taking iron in larger doses for a shorter period may not lead to better absorption (and may result in more side effects). The overall goal is to replace, over one to three months, 200 to 250 mg of iron lost during donation.

What if I was deferred due to low hematocrit?
Having low hematocrit levels is one of the most common reasons individuals are deferred from donating blood. Female blood donors must have a minimum hematocrit level of 38 percent, and the minimum hematocrit level for male donors is 39 percent. This minimum level is set by the FDA for the safety of the donor. Hematocrit levels below 38 percent for women and 39 percent for men may be normal for you or they may mean you have a condition called anemia.

  • For Men: If you are a male and you were deferred due to low hematocrit level, you should talk to your doctor about your hematocrit level before attempting to donate again.
  • For Women: Low hematocrit levels are normal for some females, particularly those under 50. If you are a woman and you were deferred due to low hematocrit, you should consider taking a multivitamin with iron or an iron supplement. Please talk to your pharmacist or physician about the appropriate type and dose of iron for your body.
Blood Center News
Overcoming fear: Donating blood for the first time

I’m a scaredy-cat. I readily admit it. I hate needles. That’s always been my excuse for why I don’t volunteer for anything with a needle. Flu shot? No way. Vaccines? I still remember the sheer terror I felt from them growing up. 

We are always #HoustonStrong

We never know when the next tragedy will strike, but we have to be ready when it does come. 

Meet Eden

CYPRESS – There is nothing more American than baseball and saving lives. Everyone who participates in The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s Home Run for Life competition will get a chance at both through June 30.

SuperMax is the hero Houston needs!

Max was born with a genetic disorder (neurofibromatosis type 1) that can cause tumors to grow on his nerve endings, and SuperMax has been his alter ego ever since. 

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center mourns Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush helped save lives in our community, and we celebrate her lifetime of accomplishments. The former First Lady set the bar high in her commitment to helping others.

Dr. Charles Drew: A Blood Banking Pioneer

Here at The Blood Center, we pride ourselves on being an organization of diversity. We work together to save and sustain lives, and we each bring a unique perspective when it comes to fulfilling our mission.

Tying the knot and saving lives

Hurricane Harvey destroyed homes, cars and many other things, but one thing it couldn’t destroy is the compassion for others in newlywed couple Gilbert and Stefanie Cruz. Gilbert and Stefanie were set to get married just a few days after Harvey passed, but due the storm’s aftermath they had to alter all of their plans on a moment’s notice.

Holiday Hugs

Our Holiday Hugs promotion is in full swing. Thanks to our volunteers coming together to attach the messages of well wishes from donors to the bears, our employees have been able to begin delivering the bears to patients at area hospitals. The process of delivering the bears is a heart-warming experience that every employee who participate really enjoys.


Blood on ambulances helps EMS agencies save more lives

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has partnered with two local agencies providing emergency medical services to help save more lives when time is of the essence, now administering whole blood to patients on the ground.

Donor coaches hit the road sporting new look, features

In the last two years, five of The Blood Center's donor coaches have been refurbished. Find out why this is such an important process.

Circle of Life Bike Tour celebrates life

The Lone Star Circle of Life bike tour visits Texas cities to raise awareness of the need for blood, marrow, organ and tissue donations to honor those impacted by these donation types. This year’s eight-day, 600-mile tour included stops in Houston and College Station.

New Steps, New Rewards in Commit for Life Program Update

Beginning Sept. 6, 2017, the Commit for Life program is changing, to help ensure every donor can be rewarded for contributing. Learn more.

2017 Commit for Life Scholarship Winners

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is excited to announce the 2017 Commit for Life Scholarship recipients.

Blood Center Resources

Our mission is to partner with the community to save and sustain lives by providing a safe supply of blood, blood components and related services.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center
1400 La Concha Lane
Houston, TX 77054

© Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center - Houston, Texas. All rights reserved. Powered by ContentActive