I'm an avid blood donor so I get to see iron levels often.


Q: I'm an avid blood donor so I get to see my iron level often. Usually my iron levels are in the 40s and I think in the 50s and I'm always told that's great. Within the proper amount of time waited I went back to give blood and it was first at a 37. I went back in a week and it barely made it to give blood at a 39. I'm wondering what could be causing this?


A:   Hi welcome to Ask The Doctor,

You appear to be one of those people who are not strictly speaking anaemic but have iron levels at the lower range of normal without having symptoms. If you were anaemic you would be pale, breathless, feeling very tired and totally unable to perform anything like the level of exercise you are used to. Some people do just seem to have a low blood count.

Provided it is within the normal range, even on the low side, it may not require treatment at all. Whilst lean red meat is the best source of iron in the diet, you will obtain enough by eating fruit, wholemeal bread, beans and green vegetables, etc. You also need to take sufficient B12 and folate in your diet and you can do this by eating plenty of fish and dairy products. The centrifuge test you had measured the packed cell volume. This is the volume of red blood cells in your blood expressed as a fraction of the total volume. The blood is centrifuged in a tube and the height of the red cell column is measured as a fraction of the total.

Hope this helps. Wish you good health.

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