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Pump Up Your Iron

What is Hemoglobin?

Iron combines with certain proteins to become hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Iron is present in small amounts in the body. It carries oxygen to the body's tissues. Too little iron - and hemoglobin - can trigger an internal energy crisis because oxygen helps convert food into energy. The Blood Center checks your hemoglobin level before you donate blood.

How do I boost my hemoglobin level?

Iron-rich foods help promote blood regeneration. You can increase the amount of iron in your body by eating foods high in Vitamin C as well as ones rich in iron. Drinking tea and coffee decreases iron absorption, and should be avoided by people who suffer from anemia.

Food poor in iron generally have a noticeable lack of pigment. With a few exceptions, such as the potato and enriched white bread, a rule-of-thumb is that white foods are not good builders of red blood cells. Foods to focus on are:

  • Beet greens
  • Chard
  • Chicken
  • Clams
  • Dates
  • Dried apricots and peaches
  • Dried beans or peas
  • Dried prunes or prune juice
  • Eggs
  • Enriched breads
  • Ham
  • Iron-fortified cereal
  • Liver and liver sausage
  • Lean beef and pork
  • Molasses (blackstrap)
  • Oysters
  • Raisins
  • Sardines
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Spinach
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole-grain breads