Backstory: I've been donating blood for the last 5 years; since i'm O+, the blood center lovvvves me and about a year ago I started doing this automated blood donation in which they take 2 units of red cells and return the plasma/white/platelets/etc and some saline back to me (machine looks like donating plasma, but works a little different obviously) around new years, I decided to go vegetarian (note, I never ate that much red meat to begin with, and never had anything approaching an iron problem, if anything I had almost higher than normal iron levels) and the first donation of the year went fine. I went back this weekend for the second donation (you can only do about 3 of these a year) and my iron was too low. not only was it too low for the double donation, it was too low for a regular whole blood donation.
what I don't get here, is that I eat at least 2 servings each of broccoli and spinach per week, and try to sneak as green as i can get of a salad in every day. also, I don't drink much tea (as I know it reduces absorbtion of non-heme iron)
my only guess is that since I've started cycling (about a month and a half ago) I've changed my body's usual iron demand and that surplus is getting used for muscle/blood production. I feel better physically than I ever have, so I'm sure it isn't some random condition or ailment.
am I just not eating enough iron-rich veggies? am I possibly eating something else that messes with absorbtion?