I tried to donate blood today at the monthly office Bloodmobile visit, and was told that I was too low in iron to qualify for the first time since August 1996. The last time this happened to me, I was a month into US Army basic training. Because I was technically overweight by Army standards (5’6″ and 148 lbs), I had been trying to cut back on red meat when I made my meal choices. I’d pretty much only had chicken, turkey, and fish for 4 weeks, and I was working out 2 hours a day (real PT) and on my feet and moving for the remaining hours. When I had a chance to bring red meat back into my diet at my permanent duty station and later as a civilian, I didn’t have any problems passing the floating blood drop test when donating blood. I was fine two months ago when I last donated, but that was before I began BFL on May 31.
My question is: Could the BFL fitness and nutrition regimen be affecting my iron levels the same way now? I am not working as hard as I was in basic training, but I AM exercising significantly more than I was for the past 2 years as a civvie. Also, I’ve been having mostly chicken and fish for the past 2 weeks instead of red meat. I have been eating a lot of spinach, however, and my multivitamin is supposed to provide 100% of my daily iron needs (though I’ve read that only 2-24% of non-meat based iron sources are absorbed).
I’m sure it’s just a combination of recent circumstances: drastically-increased physical activity which results in more nutrients like iron being sweated out before they are absorbed, just getting through that time of the month a week and a half ago (right when I stopped having red meat), residual blood loss from my LEEP last week, and the change in my diet.
80% of female athletes show some degree of iron deficiency according to this article: http://www.physsportsmed.com/issues/2002/09_02/sep02news.htm
Women in general are at higher risk of being anemic just because they consume fewer calories, less red meat, and have to recover more iron due to the losses experienced through menstruation.
I am kind of bummed about being dissed by the Bloodmobile, but I don’t think I am too deficient yet. I think my blood is just a bit diluted right now thanks to all of the things that have been happening in the past 2 weeks. I am, however, going to work the red meat back into my BFL eating plan at least 3 days a week to try to raise my iron levels to normal again.
Has anyone else had this sort of problem? (I know that most people don’t have a convenient way to check iron levels, but I thought I would bring up my experiences.)
Maggie the Bloodmobile Reject 😛