The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

Number 152

This issue:

Iron Age Blood Giving


Consider giving blood periodically–as a good deed and to improve your health.


What if you could perform one of the most generous good deeds possible, help your health at the same time, and it would not cost you anything? Chances are that you can. Philosopher Rabbi Moses Maimonides would add that giving blood is one of the highest forms of charity as the recipient is anonymous.

Too much iron: Most Americans have higher than optimal levels of iron in their blood. Iron is an oxidant that oxidizes LDL cholesterol and contributes to atherosclerosis and heart disease. It impairs utilization of zinc, which is vital to memory, immune functioning, healing, sexual functioning, and healthy skin. Excess iron increases the risk of cancer and most cancer cells consume more iron than other cells. One in 250 people have a common genetic disorder that causes very high levels of iron. Very high levels or iron damages the heart, liver, and other organs and can be fatal.

Too little iron: Iron is essential to red blood cell production. Iron deficiency causes anemia, which brings weakness and fatigue and increased vulnerability to illnesses. Iron is vital to several enzymes, energy production, metabolism and DNA synthesis.

Common sources of concentrated iron:

  • Iron supplements
  • Many multiple vitamin pills (use ones without iron unless you need iron)
  • Cereals, pasta, and other foods fortified with iron
  • Red meat
  • Clams
  • Soybeans, lentils, tofu, and beans

While people fret about whether vegetarians get enough iron, most get plenty from soybeans, lentils, tofu, and beans. Popeye tried to popularize eating spinach for iron and strength. One serving (1 cup) of spinach has 2.9 milligrams of iron. Red meat and soy foods, however, have about twice as much iron as spinach. Three ounces of clams has a walloping 23.8 milligrams of iron.

Do you have an optimal amount of iron?

When you get your annual physical (You do get an annual physical don't you?), make sure at least every few years you check iron levels. There are several possible tests. Your doctor can choose the one that is most pertinent for you.

Women who menstruate and children have to make more blood and hence need more iron than men and postmenopausal women. The reason premenopausal women are less prone to heart attacks may be from menstruation reducing iron in their blood. External or internal bleeding also would require building more blood.

Donating blood:

Giving blood is the quintessential act of giving of yourself and giving life to others. If your iron levels are higher than optimal, it can also help you lower your iron levels. One study found that men who donated blood at least once a year had an 88% lower risk of heart attack than non-donors. It seems to be a tradition to reward blood donors with donuts or sweets. When you give blood, bring healthy food with you, e.g., fruit or nuts, and pass on the junk food.


There’s a saying in medicine, which is that you are only as old as your blood vessels.

~Michael West

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

~(source unknown)


Children say there are three kinds of blood vessels: arteries, vanes and caterpillars.

Why did the Vampire get fired from the Blood Bank? He was caught drinking on the job.

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