The Best Foods to Eat After You Give Blood

Doctor talking to man giving blood in hospital
The Best Foods to Eat After You Give Blood (Image: Keith Brofsky/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Giving blood is a potentially life-saving act that helps trauma and surgical patients maintain healthy blood levels. While the donor process only uses qualified individuals and investigated practices, you can experience side effects like lightheadedness, fatigue and loss of consciousness after giving blood. One way to minimize these risks is to monitor what you eat following blood donation. Eating the right foods afterward can help replenish lost iron and vitamin stores.

Iron-rich Foods

Boy With an Orange in His Mouth at Breakfast and His Father in the Background
Eating foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, increases absorption from plant sources of iron. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Iron is a component in your blood needed to carry oxygen to your tissues. Without iron, your body cannot maintain or produce healthy red blood cells. Because your body must begin to make new blood cells, eating foods that contain iron after giving blood can give you a good start. Examples of iron-rich foods include spinach, red meat, fish, poultry, beans and raisins. Nuts and peanut butter also contain it. Iron also fortifies some cereals -- read the nutrition labels to ensure the food contains iron. Eating foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, increases absorption from plant sources of iron.

Foods Containing Folate

Bowl of cereal with spoon and edge of plate with pastry on it, close-up
Fortified breads, cereals and rice also can contain this vitamin. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Your body uses folate, also known as B-9, folic acid or folacin, to manufacture new red blood cells. This helps to replace blood cells lost during donation. Foods that contain folate include liver, dried beans, asparagus and green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens. Orange juice is another source of folate. Fortified breads, cereals and rice also can contain this vitamin.

Foods With Riboflavin

close-up of a strawberry yoghurt and spoon
Dairy products like milk and yogurt also are good sources of riboflavin. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Riboflavin or vitamin B-2 is another vitamin necessary to produce red blood cells. Riboflavin helps your body turn carbohydrates into energy for the body. Since giving blood can make you feel weakened, this energy can benefit you. Foods containing riboflavin are similar to those that have iron and folate and include eggs, peas, nuts, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, asparagus and vitamin-fortified cereals. Dairy products like milk and yogurt also are good sources of riboflavin.

Vitamin B-6 Foods

Close-up of a peeled banana
Examples of vitamin B-6 foods include potatoes, bananas, seeds, nuts, red meat, fish, eggs and spinach. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Foods with vitamin B-6 have a number of benefits after you give blood. Your body needs the vitamin to build healthy blood cells and it helps the body break down proteins. Because proteins contain many of the nutrients you need after giving blood, eating vitamin B-6 foods can be helpful. Examples of vitamin B-6 foods include potatoes, bananas, seeds, nuts, red meat, fish, eggs and spinach.

Don’t Forget Fluids

Eating a meal after giving blood can help you regain energy and start your body on its way to rebuilding lost blood cells. Don’t neglect the importance of fluids along with the foods you eat. Drinking fluids 24 to 48 hours after giving blood is vital in helping your body to readjust. During the 24 hours after blood donation, the American Heart Association recommends that you avoid alcohol and increase your water consumption by 4 cups.

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