Before you try to recreate the lifestyle of a vampire, first ask yourself if it is healthy to drink blood. The answer may not be what you expect.
Is it healthy to drink blood? Blood, a liquid necessary for human life, is ironically poisonous if you drink it. Medical experts warn that you can get very sick if you consume it daily, the blood favoring the appearance of numerous infections.
One of the reasons it is not healthy to drink blood is that it carries dangerous viruses. “Human blood is a biological hazard. By being exposed to someone else’s blood, you are potentially exposing yourself to infections that live in the bloodstream,” says Laura Purdy, a family medicine physician and medical director of telehealth company OpenLoop.
Is it healthy to drink blood?
Just a few drops of this fluid are enough to transmit infectious blood-borne diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. You can also contract syphilis through exposure to another person’s blood, although it is more commonly spread through sexual contact , says Purdy.
It’s not a big health problem if you swallow a drop of uncontaminated human blood, says Rosmy Barrios, a regenerative medicine specialist and medical advisor to Health Reporter. Celebrities such as Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox have admitted to drinking a few drops of each other’s blood for “ritualistic purposes” and seem to survive. But daily consumption could lead to the accumulation of toxins in the body, he notes Popular Science.
If you’ve ever had a cut in your mouth or tasted a drop of plasma and hemoglobin, you’ve probably noticed that the blood fluid has a bitter metallic taste. The metal comes from high iron levels in the blood; a normal range in adults is 60 to 170 micrograms per deciliter.
Unlike vampire bats, which have evolved to absorb large doses of iron, humans carry a gene that prevents absorption of the mineral. Barrios says humans can’t properly digest blood and its rich iron content, along with all the nutrients we get from our regular diet.
“Excess iron is toxic to humans and, in some cases, even fatal. An overdose of iron can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dehydration and even death in children,” warns Barrios.
The accumulation of too much iron, or hemochromatosis, can produce symptoms of fatigue, joint pain in the hands and knees, low sex drive, and a dark skin color, a stark contrast to the white, shiny skin of movie vampires. In addition, complications of hemochromatosis can lead to the development of cirrhosis, diabetes or heart failure.
Other reasons why it is not healthy to drink blood
Both Purdy and Barrios say there isn’t enough research to support any benefit of consuming human blood. (It won’t make you younger or give you a better high.)
And while blood is a cocktail of different vitamins and minerals, we can find the same nutrients in food. “There is no exclusive benefit that drinking human blood can provide that you cannot get from another food source. If you’re looking for iron, you can eat red meat or spinach,” explains Purdy.
In addition, the blood does not have sufficient amounts of all the nutrients a person needs to survive: the human body cannot produce vitamin C, which is usually obtained from citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables and supplements.
Blood type mismatch
Another complication that can prevent you from living the vampire lifestyle is mismatched blood types. Under normal circumstances, the blood consumed would be processed and eliminated through the gastrointestinal tract. However, if someone has an ulcer or other open wound in their digestive system, Purdy says there’s a chance the blood could mix with yours.
If the other person has a blood type that doesn’t match yours, you risk an intense immune reaction. “If the incompatible blood types mixed, the red blood cells would break down and form antibodies that attack each other,” she explains.
If you still have a morbid curiosity to taste human blood, both experts suggest trying just a few drops. But before you experiment, consider getting the sample tested to make sure the blood type is compatible with yours and there are no communicable diseases.
Purdy says that “as with all body fluid exchanges, you need to proceed with wisdom and a well-informed understanding of the other person’s medical condition.”