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Iron Supplements Speed Blood Donation Recovery

Finding could allow people to donate again sooner to help keep blood supply adequate

TUESDAY, Feb. 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Low-dose iron supplements speed blood donors’ recovery of iron and hemoglobin, new research shows. The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-funded study was published in the Feb. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study included 215 adult blood donors at four blood donation centers in the United States. The participants were divided into two groups — those with higher iron levels and those with lower iron levels. In each of those groups, half of the participants took low-dose iron supplements (38 mg) daily for 24 weeks after donating blood, while others took no iron supplements.

Compared to those who didn’t take supplements, participants who took supplements returned to pre-donation hemoglobin levels much faster in both the lower iron group (five weeks versus 23 weeks) and the higher iron group (four weeks versus 11 weeks). Donors who took iron supplements also recovered lost iron sooner than those who did not take supplements (11 weeks versus more than 24 weeks). After 24 weeks, two-thirds of the participants who did not take supplements had not recovered the iron lost from donating blood, the investigators noted.

“This research brings us another step closer to understanding how to maintain healthy iron levels in blood donors. Maintaining healthy iron levels will allow donors to safely continue donating, thereby ensuring a robust blood supply for patients in need,” Simone Glynn, M.D., M.P.H., chief of the Blood Epidemiology and Clinical Therapeutics Branch at NHLBI, said in an institute news release.

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