published Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Ask a doctor: I tried to donate blood, but my hemoglobin was too low. What does that mean?

Dr. Liz Culler
ASK AWAY

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com. See this space each week for answers.

Q: I tried to donate blood, but my hemoglobin was too low. What does that mean, and what should I do?

A: Hemoglobin is an indicator of how many red cells you have. Approximately 10 percent of potential blood donors are deferred from donation because their hemoglobin does not meet the 12.5 grams per deciliter (g/dL) hemoglobin requirement to donate.

A hemo-globin level of less than 12.0 g/dL in women and less than 13.0 g/dL in men indicates anemia, meaning the red cell count is low. It is important to rule out serious causes of anemia. The most common cause is iron deficiency. If iron deficiency is the cause of your anemia, then consume iron-rich foods such as meat, eggs, dairy products, dried beans, peas, iron-fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and seeds. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C can help your body absorb the iron more effectively.

-- Dr. Liz Culler,

Blood Assurance;

member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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