T Nation

Benefits of Blood Donating?


Is there any real truth behind donating blood. Obviously it helps others, but is there any health improvements in the donator?

I read the following:

"The letting of blood removes iron from the blood stream through increased red blood cell production which is a potential health benefit. It is believed that excess iron can cause cholesterol to oxidize quickly which damages arteries and contributes to heart disease."

Any truth to this?


uuhhhhh... i guess it depends on where you got that information. if you got from a doctor or researcher that specializes in a field that would study things like than then i would believe it. otherwise, no.


I have no expertise on the matter, but from what I understand, yes, its true. Men tend to have levels of iron in their blood that are too high. That is why multivitamins made for men do not include iron. Women do not generally have the problem of excess iron, in part because of regular bleeding through menstruation. Or so I have read.


That's what I've heard (from nurses when I donate) and from reading around (though there does seem to be some debate as to whether or not reducing blood iron is actually beneficial).


Personally, I'm not concerned with health benefits when I donate. I'm just happy when there are oatmeal raisin cookies and apple juice afterwards.


Ha! Funny. I would have to pass on them as if I ate that I would pass out in the chair in a sugar coma. :slightly_smiling:


Where I give blood, they give you a short blood panel including cholesterol and a couple others for free. You also get a free blood pressure check from a professional at it. Also, if you're concerned about the people you're potentially giving blood to, you'll be less likely to do things that can potentially compromise your health (getting tats at dirty places, sex w/out protection, etc) since you won't be the only person to hurt for it. So yeah, I can see how giving blood can improve your health.


The way that I see it, removing a pint of blood does not resolve the issue of having 'too much iron' per volume of blood, unless this is done in conjunction with dietary changes, to keep iron levels appropriate.

Iron is a necessary and strongly bound part of haemoglobin in erythrocytes, and it is generally very well complexed in transferrins and ferritin (iron transport proteins) - as free iron is a very valuable asset for infectious agents. These facts tend to make me think that there is little that a temporary reduction in blood volume can do to get rid of excess iron, that the body cannot do by itself!