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Maintain healthy iron levels

If you donate blood regularly, it is important for you to replenish the iron lost through donation and maintain healthy iron levels in your body. Find out how.

How to increase your iron levels

To get enough iron and improve your body's ability to absorb iron, follow these tips:

  • Eat well-balanced, iron-rich meals, and take the iron supplements you were given. Iron supplements are the most effective way for you to replenish your iron levels.
  • Take iron-rich foods together with foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits and vegetables.This will improve the body's absorption of iron. 
  • Avoid drinking tea or coffee and consuming calcium-rich foods (milk, cheese, yogurt) with iron-rich meals or iron supplements. Tannins in tea, caffeine in coffee and calcium reduce iron absorption. Have your coffee or tea after your meals. 
  • If you are a vegetarian, you should consume plenty of iron-rich foods. This is because the iron found in plants, such as fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts, is harder for the body to absorb.

Iron requirements for regular donors

The average adult male requires 10 mg of iron daily while the average adult female requires 18 mg daily. If you are a regular blood donor who donates blood every 12 weeks, your daily iron requirement will be higher.  

Only 5% to 10% of the iron in your diet is actually absorbed by your body. Regular donation may not allow enough time for the iron intake from food to make up for the iron loss. Iron supplementation helps to recover your iron stores and haemoglobin to adequate levels. 

List of iron-rich foods

Here's a list of foods that you can eat to get more iron in your diet.


Food Serving Weight (g) Iron content (mg)
Fish 1 fillet 90 1.2
Egg yolk, hard-boiled one 17 0.8
Egg, whole, hard-boiled one 50 0.9
Ikan Bilis 2 tablespoon 15 0.6
Prawns, dried 1 teaspoon 5 0.7
Oyster, fresh 12 60 3.7
Sardine, canned in tomato one fish 40 1.8
Soya bean curd, tau hoo 1 small square 85 1.9
Cashew nut 1/2 cup 65 5
Pistachio 1/2 cup 65 2.5
Walnut 1/2 cup 50 1.5
Lotus seed 1/2 cup 15 0.6
Almond 2 tablespoon 30 1.2
Sunflower seed 1/2 cup 70 3.2
Watermelon seed 1/2 cup 50 3.1
Soya bean, White 1/2 cup 50 3
Lentil 1 cup 180 14.4
Gram, green 1 cup 250 13.8
Gram, red 1 cup 250 10.5
Pork, lean 1 palm sized piece 90 1.2
Beef, lean 1 palm sized piece 90 2.8
Mutton, lean 1 palm sized piece 90 2.1
Chicken, skinless 1 palm sized piece 90 0.8

Food Serving Weight (g) Iron content (mg)
Kale, Chinese (kai lan) 1 cup 65 1.3
Spinach (bayam pasir) 1 cup 30 1.5
Kang kong 1 cup 30 1.6
Chinese cabbage (bok choy) 1/2 cup 85 0.8
Mustard leaves, chye sim 1 cup 55 0.7
Seaweed, dried (hai tai) 1 sheet 15 3.3
Sea moss (fa chai) 1 pinch 10 9.9
Food Serving Weight (g) Iron content (mg)
Apricot, semi-dried 10 halves 35 1.2
Dates, black, dried 10 90 3.3
Dates, red, dried 10 90 3
Raisins 1 packet 42 1.5
Longan, dried 1/2 cup 65 3.5
Fig, dried 10 85 3.6
Prunes, semi-dried 10 85 2.2
Peach, fresh one 155 1.6
Food Serving Weight (g) Iron content (mg)
Rice, brown 1 bowl 200 1
Pasta, wholemeal 1 portion 100 1.8
Bread, wholemeal 1 slice 30 1
Wheatgerm 1 teaspoon 15 1.1
Wheatbran 1 tablespoon 15 1.8
Branflakes 3/4 cup 30 5
Cornflakes 1 cup 30 3.6
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