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Transfusion. 2004 Oct;44(10):1427-32.

Daily doses of 20 mg of elemental iron compensate for iron loss in regular blood donors: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

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  • 1Institute of Transfusion Medicine, Charité-University Medicine Berlin, Germany.



A considerable number of regular blood donors develops an iron deficiency, and the exact amount of iron required to compensate for the iron loss from whole-blood donation in males and females is still unknown.


A total of 526 regular blood donors (289 male and 237 female) were randomly assigned to treatment with either 40 mg, 20 mg, or 0 mg per day of elemental iron as ferrous gluconate for a period of 6 months, during which one unit of whole blood was collected on four occasions (males) or three occasions (females). Hemoglobin level, serum ferritin, and soluble transferrin receptor levels were measured before each donation.


Daily doses of either 40 mg or 20 mg of elemental iron adequately compensated for iron loss in males, who gave blood at 2-month intervals, but did not result in a positive iron balance or an increase in storage iron as reflected by the logarithm of the ratio of transferrin receptor to ferritin concentration. In females, who donated at 3-month intervals, the same daily doses not only restored the iron balance but also led to an increase in storage iron. The number of gastrointestinal side effects due to iron supplementation (12%) was only slightly higher in both iron groups than in the placebo group.


The results of this study indicate that 20 mg of elemental iron per day can adequately compensate for iron loss in males and females who donate whole blood up to four (females) or six times per year (males).

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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