Iron from meat or fish may better protect against low hemoglobin

Blood donors who receive more iron from meat or fish (heme iron) may be better able to maintain their iron storage. On average, their iron storage is larger and their hemoglobin (Hb) value higher than that of donors who consume no or less heme iron. So concludes the thesis of Tiffany Timmer, researcher at Sanquin Research.

Timmer investigated how Hb is influenced by nutrition. In addition, she looked at whether genetic factors could predict the Hb and iron storage. The aim is to be able to better assess how often each donor will be able to donate safely in the future.

Big data avaiable to Hid network

During her PhD research, Timmer investigated if it made a difference whether donors ate more iron contained in meat or fish (heme iron) or iron that is mainly found in vegetables (non-heme iron). Her research included data from 2,323 donors from the Donor Insight study. Thanks to the special position of Hid’s neighbour Sanquin Blood Bank, which has been accurately tracking the data of hundreds of thousands of blood donors for decades, researchers have access to a large amount of interesting data for their scientific research.

Nutritional advice

The main reason for postponing a blood donation is a too low hemoglobin (Hb) level. “Donors lose about 250 milligrams of iron with a whole blood donation,” PhD student Timmer explains. “By donating regularly you can get a shortage of iron. You have to supplement this from your diet”

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