Nutritional advice for anemic who wish to be blood donors

Sankalp has been organizing plenty of blood donation drives in the past few years. Thousands of donors have donated blond. However there is always a small section of people who don not get to donate blood. Many of them specially ladies are anemic and hence not eligible for blood donation. It is determined by the amount of Hemoglobin present in the blood. In India as per NACO (National Aids Control Organization), which is the governing body for blood donation in India specifies that for a person to be eligible to donate blood the Hb level in the blood must be greater than or equal to 12.5mg/dL. For many donors this limit is too high!. They are discouraged by the fact that they are turned down. However, the good part of this is the fact that they know the problem. Moreover the solution is in our own hands. A balanced diet is the right prescription. The article below is a must read for all, specially for blood donors who are anemic. It covers some of the most crucial aspects to look into to overcome anemia

What does low hemoglobin level means?

Hemoglobin (Hb) is iron containing protein in Red Blood Cells (RBCs).[1] Almost 2/3rd of body iron is found in hemoglobin.[2] It helps is supplying oxygen to other body tissues. Low hemoglobin condition is known as Anemia.[1] The common symptoms are feeling of tiredness, headache, dizziness, fatigue and lack of concentration.[3] And therefore hemoglobin level should be maintained in the required range for normal day to day activity. Anemia is considered to be present if the hemoglobin concentration is below the lower limit of the 95% reference range for the individual's age, sex, and geographic location.[4]

What is the normal Hb level?

Normal Range of Hemoglobin differs in males and females.

Male: 13.5gm/dl - 18gm/dl [5]

Female: 11.5 gm/dl -16gm/dl [5]

To be able to donate blood safely the required hemoglobin level is 12.5 gm/dl [6]

Note: gm/dl stands for gram per deciliter of Blood

How can it be improved?

In case Hemoglobin is found to be less than 12.5 gm/dl, blood donor is deferred from donating blood. Anemia or low hemoglobin condition caused by poor or bad dietary habit can be rectified by including iron rich food item and excluding item which reduce iron absorption.

Things to be included in the diet

Please note: Iron from animal sources are absorbed more easily then from plant source[7]

For Vegetarians

Cereals: Bajra, Jowar, Ragi, Rice Flakes, Puffed Rice, Whole Wheat Flour, Whole Wheat Bread, Lentil (Masoor)

Pulses: Peas, Horse Gram, Channa, Black Gram dal, Cow Peas (Black Eyed Peas), Belagram (whole), Roasted Belagram

Vegetables: ALl green leafy vegetables, palak, fenugreek, amarnath, curry leaves, coriander leaves, drumstick, drumstick leaves, bitter gourd, capsicum, onion stalks, broad beans, sundekai

Oil Seeds: Watermelon seeds, dates (limited), almonds (limited), raisins, gigelly seeds

For Non-Vegetarians

Chicken, liver, egg-yolk, fish

Also Include:

Vitamin A helps mobilize iron from its storage sites, so a deficiency of vitamin A limits the body's ability to use stored iron.[7] Source of Vitamin A are yellow orange fruits and vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, papaya, mango, sweet potato, winter squash, cantaloupe and spinach.[9] Vitamin C helps in better absorption of iron. Foods containing vitamin C are orange juice, tomato, all citrus fruits, lemon juice, pineapple, guava etc. Therefore just after the meal, its recommend to eat Vitamin C rich food. [7]

Lack of vitamin B12 also contributes to anemia, so in addition to adding iron, increasing the intake of foods containing vitamin B12 is advised. Vitamin B12 containing foods are Cheese, Milk, Yeast extract, Egg.[7]

Foods to be excluded:

Few food items deplete the iron absorption or reduce the iron-reserve in the body. The consumption of such items should be reduced or avoided. These foods include: tea, coffee, bran or bran cereals[7]









8. Manipal Hospital Blood Bank’s Nutrition chart on Iron rich food



Submitted by pooja on Fri, 04-Jun-2010 - 21:05


i sincerely appreciate this post .... it is very useful for all the anaemic ppl wanting to donate blood.... as i know how it feels to be turned down when u are fully inspired to donate blood! hoping to increase my hb and go ahead with my first blood donation very soon:)