View Full Version : High iron levels...

Chris Forbis
06-20-2007, 09:31 AM
Went to donate blood today (8 weeks to the day since my last donation). Whatever blood iron test they run, it has an upper limit of 18.0. I came in at an 18.6 (on both fingers). So no blood donation for me. They advised me to see a physician.

Any thoughts? Besides infecting myself with parasites...

Dr. G?

Paul Findley
06-20-2007, 09:33 AM

Scott Kustes
06-20-2007, 09:38 AM
How did you get your number? All they do for me is prick my finger and watch the blood sink to the bottom of some liquid.

Chris Forbis
06-20-2007, 10:53 AM
They've got some fancy little machine that analyzes the hemoglobin count.

Mike ODonnell
06-20-2007, 12:02 PM
Don't go outside during a thunderstorm

Robert Allison
06-20-2007, 12:45 PM
You might consider inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), also know as phytic acid. Taken between meals, it can leech excess iron out of the blood. If you Google IP6, you'll find a ton of info.

You could also try a therapeutic phlebotomy, but I am pretty sure you need a doctor's referral for that.

Garrett Smith
06-20-2007, 05:19 PM
Several suggestions/ideas:

First, go to donate again and see if it was a fluke test before undergoing any "corrective" measures.

Are you taking any iron in your supplements or is it all from the massive amounts of red meat you're eating?

Have you started doing a significantly increased amount of metcon lately? Running in particular?

Robert's IP6 could be a good idea. As would be more raw spinach.

Chris Forbis
06-20-2007, 06:45 PM

I take no iron supplements. I eat about 10 pounds of red meat a week. I eat about 3/4 a pound of raw spinach a week.

I have increased metcon quite a bit the last two weeks. From zero metcon a week to 2 or 3 metcons a week. Not really any running specifically (a few 400s). What effect would the metcon have?

I'll go back later this week or early next week to the donation center to get tested again. Should I aim to go fasted, a few hours after a meal or what?

PM #20 talks about blood donation and says that a serum ferritin test is more reliable. Pending another too high hemoglobin result, is that what I should look into with a doctor?

To keep iron levels in check was part of the reason I was donating. D'oh!

Robert Allison
06-20-2007, 07:25 PM

I take no iron supplements. I eat about 10 pounds of red meat a week. I eat about 3/4 a pound of raw spinach a week.

If you do have iron overload and plan on continuing to consume that quantity of red meat, you might try drinking some red wine, or green or black tea with your meals. They all contain tannins which can hinder the absorption of iron.

While that won't really help with your current situation, it might prevent a recurrence.

Regarding tests, from Mercola's site:

The most useful laboratory test to ascertain hemochromatosis is measuring serum iron concentration, total iron binding capacity, transferrin saturation and serum ferritin. These should be done together.


Chris Forbis
06-20-2007, 08:12 PM
If I need to, I have no problems with cutting back on the red meat consumption. I'll just have to find a replacement...

Garrett Smith
06-21-2007, 05:48 AM
From Iron Status in Elite Athletes (http://www.sportsci.org/encyc/drafts/Iron_status.doc)

Assessment of Iron Status in Athletes.

Traditionally, parameters such as hemoglobin, Mean Red Blood Cell Volume (MCV), total serum iron, total iron binding capacity (TIBC, the capacity of transferrin to bind free iron), serum ferritin, and free erythrocyte protoporphyrin (FEP, a protein made in the red blood cell during hemoglobin production) have been used to evaluate iron status. However, physical activity may confuse the assessment of some of these parameters. In fact, all of these criteria are altered when a blood sample is taken too soon after a training session. This is mainly due to hemoconcentration (concentration of RBCs and other blood components as a result of loss of plasma components), but there are other factors, listed below, that can also interfere.


Hemoglobin levels within the normal range are not adequate for athletes. It has been suggested that the Hb concentration of high-performance athletes ought to be higher than in non-athletes in order to achieve more efficient oxygen delivery (7). Thus, levels of hemoglobin above the lower limit of the normal range (14 g.dl-1 in males and 12 g.dl-1 in females) but below 16 g.dl-1 in males and 14 g.dl-1 in females are considered as suboptimal for athletes (7).

My initial thoughts:
Fluke test, do it again on a non-exercising day
Dehydration causing hemoconcentration
Too much red muscle meat in your diet--switch to more organ meat, fish and/or poultry

Chris Forbis
06-21-2007, 06:05 AM
Awesome info. I'll try again on Monday morning, when I'll have had about 48 hours free of exercise. I'll be sure to hydrate really well beforehand too.

This may be the first time I have shown any symptoms similar to those of "high-performance athletes" though...

Robb Wolf
06-21-2007, 05:27 PM
Vit-c can enhance iron absorption if taken at the time of ingestion...like some London broil and a supp. Just a thought.

Chris Forbis
06-21-2007, 07:26 PM
No vitamin C supps either. Though the veggies I eat with my meat (broccoli/brussels sprouts) do have a decent amount of it... In fact, the only supps I take are probiotics, digestive enzymes, fish oil, and some apple cider vinegar.

Robb Wolf
06-22-2007, 06:15 AM
Looks like you need to bleed more Amigo...We have a nice "safe" MMA 101 course that can be of assistance...

Garrett Smith
06-22-2007, 06:19 AM
Let us know how the "retest" goes, once those other factors are removed from the equation...

Chris Forbis
11-01-2007, 03:25 PM
So things got busy, and it took me awhile to get around to this...

I tried waiting a few days after working out and went to the blood bank to try again. They wouldn't even test my hemoglobin until I went to the doc to get checked.

*several months later*

I went this week to the doc and got tested, and all my iron levels were in range, with hemoglobin of 16.7 (<18 needed to donate). So I go back to the blood bank today and they test my hemoglobin... and it's 18.3.

They tell me to come back another day to try again. I plan on going fasted and ridiculously hydrated.

Garrett Smith
11-01-2007, 05:44 PM
I've actually been going to the blood bank too often, every 8 weeks on the nose. I went in last time and had a hemoglobin of 12.8 (>12 needed to donate) and they made a point of telling me my number. I shrugged it off. Only after sleeping horribly starting that night and one week later figuring out I had symptoms of "heart blood deficiency" in Chinese medicine, did I decide that maybe their machines were at least close to accurate and that I need more time between donations.

I'm waiting at least six months before I go back this time. I'll probably double the 8 weeks to 16 in the future.

chris hill
11-02-2007, 01:55 AM
you may be interested to know that every 16 weeks is the recommended period between donations here in the UK.

Garrett Smith
11-02-2007, 05:30 AM
Thanks Chris, good to know!

Gosh, I can't imagine a group in the good ol' USA recommending something that might be detrimental for my health... :-P

Scott Kustes
11-02-2007, 06:34 AM
How do they get your number? At my blood bank, they just drop my blood into a solution to see if it sinks. I'd like to know what my iron level is as that's my main reason for donating.

Garrett Smith
11-02-2007, 06:43 AM
The Red Cross location I go to has the machine. I believe American Blood Services (?) does the "how fast does a drop of blood sink" test.

You aren't going for the free STD tests??? :D

Scott Kustes
11-02-2007, 08:30 AM
Damn you and telling everyone my secrets!

I go to a Red Cross and they do the sinking blood test. I'll ask if there's any way to find out my reading.

Chris Forbis
11-17-2007, 05:28 AM
Eight days after I last tried to donate (1 Nov) and my hemoglobin was too high (18.3) I went back. I was fasted and ridiculously hydrated and my hemoglobin came in just under (17.9). Jackpot.

The doctor's office called me in for the genetic test results for hemochromatosis. Turns out I have a genetic mutation for it. I only have one of the genes, and generally it takes a few others, though sometimes one alone is sufficient to cause it (says the Doctor). He advised me to donate blood regularly and check back in a year to get my iron levels tested again. Being genetic, he also said it is something to remember for when I start having kids.

Iron, total: 134
Iron binding capacity: 306
% saturation: 44

Garrett Smith
11-17-2007, 07:32 AM
There may be some pearls from functional medicine that you can utilize in your situation.

Their website is www.functionalmedicine.org, you can find the book on http://www.amazon.com/Textbook-Functional-Medicine-Sidney-MacDonald/dp/0977371301 . The big functional medicine seminar (6 days!) is what I want to go to next--dang thing costs $3000+!!!

I'd suggest you look for a practitioner on the IFM website and/or get that book to try to help yourself. Wish I could help more, I still need to get that book.

Scott Kustes
12-26-2007, 06:00 PM
Ok, so I asked for my iron level today....she told me my hematocrit was 44, which is good according to her. What's that mean?

Garrett Smith
12-27-2007, 06:16 AM

Scott Kustes
12-28-2007, 08:27 AM
And what exactly does that have to do with my iron? I'm thinking nothing.

Garrett Smith
12-28-2007, 09:20 AM
If one had an iron-deficiency anemia, they would tend toward a low hematocrit. Yours is just fine.

There are more specific tests (ie. ferritin and Total Iron Binding Capacity TIBC) to look more closely at your blood's functional iron status.

Knowing generally what you eat, I'd say your iron levels are just peachy.

Scott Kustes
12-28-2007, 03:03 PM

Chris Forbis
01-05-2008, 05:40 PM
Eight weeks since my last donation (to the day) so I went back in to donate again. Hemoglobin came in at 16.5, well under the 18.0 limit.