Iron Supplementation Shortens Hemoglobin Recovery Time After Blood Donation

A new study assessing low dose iron supplementation to no supplementation in blood donors identified that supplementation considerably decreased the time to recovery of post-donation lost iron and hemoglobin — an iron-rich protein that provides oxygen in red blood cells all over the body.

The outcomes of the Hemoglobin and Iron Recovery Study (HEIRS) backed by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Blood donors are allowed to give one pint of blood every 8 weeks. A main issue is that about 25-35 % of frequent donors develop iron deficiency. Since iron is required for red blood cell production, low iron can lead to fatigue and anemia — a situation in which the blood has a reduced than regular number of red blood cells — and can result in short-term ineligibility for future contributions. It can take several weeks to months to restore the lost iron. New study signifies a possible solution.

“This study provides us one more step closer to understanding how to manage healthy iron ranges in blood donors. Keeping healthy iron levels will enable donors to properly continue giving thereby providing a robust blood supply for sufferers in need,” stated Simone Glynn, chief of the Blood Epidemiology and Clinical Therapeutics.

The randomized trial was performed from 2012 April to 2012 December at 4 blood centers in the United States and involved 215 blood donors aged 18 and older. The research was performed by the NHLBI-supported Recipient Epidemiology and Donor Evaluation Study-III (REDS-III), a huge, multi-center study program that seeks to boost health outcomes in donors and transfusion individuals and to assist make sure the safety and accessibility of transfused blood products in the United States and globally.

Principal Investigator Joseph kiss explained, “Donating blood is risk-free and important for health care. This research highlights the significance of preserving iron levels following blood donation, and indicates that additional iron successfully restores hemoglobin, even in donors with greater iron levels.”

The research assessed the impact of low dose daily iron supplementation on the time to recovery of lost hemoglobin and iron following donating a unit of blood. Individuals involved 136 females (63%) and 79 males (37%); 52 donors (24%) were 60 years or older. Even though all were blood donors, none had donated blood in the previous 4 months.

Investigators divided the blood donors into two groups dependent on their iron levels: a reduced iron and a higher iron group.  50 percent of each group was randomized to take one pill of ferrous gluconate (38 mg of low dose iron) everyday for 24 weeks following their blood donation. Hemoglobin and iron levels were assessed 7 times throughout the study. In comparison to donors who did not get iron, the donors taking iron supplements came back to pre-donation hemoglobin levels quicker in both the lower iron (five weeks versus 23 weeks) and higher iron groups (4 weeks vs 11 weeks). In the same way, donors taking iron supplements restored lost iron more quickly than those not getting supplements (11 weeks versus more than 24 weeks). Without iron supplementation, two thirds of the donors failed to recover the iron lost from giving blood after 24 weeks.

“The NHLBI is assisting further research to address concerns like as who benefits most from iron supplementation, how much iron must be taken, and for how extensive. This study can assist encourage blood centers to assess best methods on how to assist donors maintain iron levels and prompt all donors to discuss iron supplementation with their doctor,” concluded Dr. Glynn.