Iron supplementation for menstruating female blood donors
Depletion of body iron stores is a major factor limiting regular blood donations by menstruating females. To determine if regular iron supplementation would solve this problem, we conducted a double-blind study in which menstruating female donors were randomly placed into one of three groups: one taking 39 mg elemental iron, a second taking 39 mg of iron plus 75 mg vitamin C, and a third taking 100 mg vitamin C daily. The women were requested to donate every 8 weeks for at least 1 year. Blood samples were taken on each donation for measurements of hemoglobin, total iron binding capacity (TIBC), and ferritin. In the two groups taking iron supplements hemoglobin and ferritin increased from baseline values and the TIBC decreased. The vitamin C control group showed decreases from baseline for hemoglobin and ferritin and increases in TIBC. Differences between groups taking iron supplements and the group not taking supplements were highly significant. Drop-out from the study was due to various causes; however, iron intolerance was uncommon. Minimal daily iron supplementation was beneficial in maintaining body iron stores and hemoglobin levels in menstruating females on a schedule of blood donation as often as every 8 weeks.