Frequent Blood Donations and Injury Recovery

I’m currently reading Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield and although I don’t think I’m the target audience for the book (endurance athletes) or agree with a lot of what he writes, I did land on a gem of an idea.

Ben writes about how endurance athletes can deplete their iron levels through high levels of training and this could cause injuries or slow their recovery. A quick search confirms all this information, as well as the fact athletes, require more iron than the general population. I’m no longer an endurance athlete, so why should I care?

With a few exceptions, I’ve been donating a pint of blood every 8 weeks for 9 years. In the past year, I have either hit the lowest iron level possible to donate or I’ve been turned away for being just under. In my quest to get my 5-gallon pin for the state of Washington, I have been “studying for the test”, by eating sunflower seeds and orange juice for a few days prior, just to bump up my iron levels for the test.

Note that my iron levels are not low. They are just a bit too low to donate. About two years ago the iron level required to donate was increased here in Seattle. Not to help the recipient of the blood, but so the person donating is still healthy after donating a pint.

I started actively donating blood not only to help others but to help myself. Now, I may have pushed it too far. As of now, I’m going to reduce my blood donations from 6.5 a year to 2. I’ll also make more of an effort to pair iron-rich foods with Vitamin C rich foods. If bumping up my iron levels helps me recover faster, that would be great. It is worth a try.

Has anyone had experience with increasing iron levels to increase recovery times or reduce injuries?



Add yours

  1. Do you eat liver?

  2. Yes. Searching on “liver” will return many results on this blog.

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