BEEF Daily

America’s Increasingly Low Iron Levels Could Be Improved With Beef


Blood banks are hungry for donations, but they're turning away many blood donors due to low iron levels. One cure is eating iron-rich beef.

I hope you all had a blessed Easter weekend. We spent the weekend with friends and family. Of course, we're also busy weighing and tagging new calves. Before the weekend got started, though, I had an appointment to donate blood at our local blood bank.

I try to donate blood every eight weeks because I feel it is a small thing I can do to help save lives in our community. What convinced me was a story about a farmer who required 60 units of blood after his leg was caught in an auger. The story made me realize how important such donations are, and how I or one of my loved ones might one day be in a similar need.

As I was sitting in the donation chair, the technician talked to me about the increasing number of people who are unable to donate because of low iron levels in their blood. She said this is a growing problem in the U.S., as more and more people have a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia. This problem escalates for those who don’t eat meat at all.

According to the Mayo Clinic, menstruating women, infants and children, vegetarians and frequent blood donors have an increased risk of becoming anemic. Luckily, this problem can be improved by eating iron-rich foods. The technician at the blood bank encouraged me to eat raisins, spinach or eggs.

“What about beef?” I asked her.

She said, “Of course! A steak the night before a blood donation will really help.”

There is a new blog post on Facts About Beef titled, “Top 10 reasons to eat beef. Because if you didn’t...”

The blog carries a wealth of information. It cites beef as a low-calorie, nutrient-packed food source. It also compares the protein levels of different foods, such as peanut butter, black beans and tofu cubes.

But, what intrigued me the most about the blog was this tidbit on iron: “Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide; in the U.S. alone, a significant number of girls aged 9-16 (75%) and adult women (50%) consume less than the recommended amounts of iron. Beef is the most readily available and easily absorbed source of iron in the American diet. A 2005 analysis showed beef eaters were 26% more likely to meet nutrient requirements for iron than non-beef eaters.”

Whether you're a blood donor or just want a little more energy to get through your day, look to iron-rich beef. What’s more, according to Beef It’s What’s For Dinner, “Not only does beef taste great, it is one of the best ways to fuel your body. Beef is a major contributor of  protein, zinc and vitamin B12, vitamin B6, iron and niacin. By supplying a nutrient bundle in every bite, eating beef is a great way to make the most of your calories. A 3-oz. serving of lean beef contributes less than 10% of the calories in a 2,000-calorie diet. At the same time, it supplies more than 10% of the daily value for these nutrients.”

Were you aware of these beef facts? Are you a regular blood donor? What led you to the decision? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 1, 2013

In Mississippi, county chapters of Mississippi Cattlemen's Association sponsor blood drives with the theme "Beef Up the Blood Supply" and give out t-shirts with that slogan. Nutrition information about beef is provided, as well as recipes and coloring books, etc., for children, all provided by the Mississippi Beef Council and supported by our check-off dollars.

on Apr 1, 2013

I also try to donate on a regular basis. I recently hit 120 whole blood donations during my life.

I donate because of the need, just like you do, but I also do it for a selfish reason. I think it is good for the body to have a "blood crisis" where we quickly lose a pint of blood. This forces the body to "kick in" and replace that blood.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 1, 2013

this is good, amazes me that the tech wouldn't mention beef until you brought it up...i've seen this before. An execise/nutrition forum that I sometimes visit has a thread by women who are all iron deficient and how they are taking iron pills but still can't get their iron levels up...most either don't eat meat or very little and they make their kids eat that way too....beef gives these folks a nutritional edge but they won't take advanteage of it. you can lead a horse to water but you can't make 'em drink. At some point it may hit them in the face but what damage has been done...especially to a growing children needing nutrient dense foods.

on Apr 1, 2013

Just another example of how we in agriculture see the world as it really is while it seems those outside agriculture can't see the forest for the trees. It saddens me that youth is not getting the proper nutrition to develop into the people that have to make this world work in 2040.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 1, 2013

While I am a huge proponent of beef in a diet, there are a few things about this article that need to be brought up.
1. As a physician, I disagree that beef is consider a "low-calorie" food
2. Very rarely does one only eat a 3 oz serving of beef
3. One thing that isn't mentioned is that many cuts of beef are also high in saturated fat

I am whole-heartedly for beef in my diet, and I probably enjoy more steaks than I should. Beef is a fantastic source of iron, and the author notes that, but it should also be mentioned that there are other very good sources of iron (eggs, spinach, scallops, etc.)

on Apr 1, 2013

Nutritional profile of beef

Highest quality “essential” amino acids (ALL of ‘em)
Best natural sources of (heme) iron and required trace minerals
Low in Ca but high in Phos
Essential B vitamins (B12)

Fat in Beef

30% Stearic Acid
40% Oleic Acid
Both lower “small dense” LDL and raise HDL
Remaining 30% neutral
Fat in beef is heart healthy

Beef is very nutrient dense calories

Fat does not make us fat. Carbs make us fat. Anyone who spent any time in the kitchen with their grandmother should know this.This society has been on a low fat/high carb diet for 50 years.

Results of 50 years of “low fat/high carb” diet strategies

15% of children between 6 and 19 are overweight
70% of Americans are overweight
½ of this figure is nearing obese
19 million adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (1/2 of all adult Native Americans)
79 million are pre-diabetic
90 million suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease

Throw another rib steak on the grill for me please.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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