Hemoglobin is a protein molecule in the red blood cell that is rich in iron, which is responsible for the movement of oxygen throughout the body. It does this by carrying oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues and then carries carbon dioxide from these tissues to the lungs. The hemoglobin also plays an important role in maintaining the proper shapes of the red blood cells (round with narrow centers). Therefore, when there is an improper hemoglobin structure, the functions and movement of the red blood cells through the body is impeded.
It is therefore very important to consciously ensure that you maintain the right amount of hemoglobin in your body. There are many consequences for having shortage of hemoglobin in the human body and they include fatigue, dizziness, weakness, and reduced energy, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, poor appetite, and headache, among others. This condition is referred to medically as anemia.
Red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma – these four are the primary elements that determine our overall health. All of them float in our blood vessels, and each one has a specific purpose to fulfill. Here, we will specifically discuss hemoglobin, which plays a vital role in maintaining the shape of the red blood cells and helps transferring Oxygen in our blood.
But, before you start reading how to increase hemoglobin, let me throw some light on some other important factors, such as the relationship between hemoglobin and red blood cells, the importance of hemoglobin, various levels of hemoglobin, etc. I believe it is important to have knowledge about them too.
Hemoglobin and Red Blood Cells
Have you seen a donut? Red blood cells resemble donuts because they have a round shape with narrow centers. (Unlike a donut, they don’t have a hole in the middle though!) However, abnormal Hemoglobin structure may disrupt the natural shape of red blood cells and also impact the normal blood flow from the blood vessels negatively. If we talk about the functionality, red blood cells carry fresh Oxygen throughout the human body. These cells can also return Carbon Dioxide from the tissues.
Four internally connected protein molecules make hemoglobin. These protein molecules are also known as globulin chains. Each chain includes an iron-containing porphyrin compound, known as Heme. The iron atom is the primary element in transporting O2 and CO2 in our blood. It is also responsible for the red color of our blood.
Normal Range for Hemoglobin
The level of hemoglobin depends on age and gender. The usual range for newborn babies is between 17 and 22 grams/deciliter, and for children, it is between 11 to 13 grams/deciliter. For adult men, it lies between 14 and 18 grams/deciliter and women; it is between 12 to 16 grams/deciliter. It also changes once a person reaches middle age.
A low hemoglobin level is referred to as anemia or low red blood count. So, whenever you face issues such as loss of blood, nutritional deficiency, or even some bone marrow problems, etc.; you should go for a quick blood test.
Lower Level of Hemoglobin
A research conducted by The Mayo Clinic shows that one can be considered under the category of “Low Hemoglobin” if a man has the hemoglobin count of less than 13.5 grams per deciliter and a woman has less than 12 grams. There are several reasons for low hemoglobin levels. They include anemia, pregnancy, liver problems, urinary tract infections, and more. So first, you have to find out the issue. Consulting a professional at this point would be a good idea.
There are many ways to increase the level of hemoglobin. However, every person has different metabolism and adaptation capacities, which is why the normal Hemoglobin count is different for different people. Underlying problems are also a factor here. Also, interestingly, some people don’t have any specific reason for low level of hemoglobin. They just have naturally a low count. I have seen a few people who have low hemoglobin without having any serious issues or symptoms in their routine life.
How Is Hemoglobin Measured?
Having established that it is important to constantly ensure that you maintain the right amount of hemoglobin in your body, it becomes important to determine how to measure it. Hemoglobin is usually measured as part of a blood count test from a blood sample that is provided. There are several ways and methods by which hemoglobin levels are measured, most of which are done presently through the help of automated machines that have been designed to conduct tests on the blood.
The process is simple. After the blood sample has been introduced to the machine, within it the red blood cells are dissected/broken down to get the hemoglobin into a solution. It is then treated with a cyanide compound which forms a bond with the hemoglobin molecule to produce cyanmethemoglobin. By casting a beam of light through the solution and measuring how much light is absorbed, the amount of hemoglobin can be ascertained.
Standard Or Normal Level Of Hemoglobin In The Body
When the amount of hemoglobin in the body is measured, it is expressed in grams per deciliter (gm/dL). The right or normal amount of hemoglobin in the body depends largely on the age or gender of a person.
Here is a list of the normal range for different ages and genders:
|Age and Gender||Standard or Normal Level|
|At birth/newly born||17-22 gm/dL|
|1 week old||15-20 gm/dL|
|1 month old||11-15 gm/dL|
|Adults (male)||14-18 gm/dL|
|Adult (female)||12-16 gm/dL|
|Post-middle age (male)||12.4- 14.9 gm/dL|
|Post-middle age (female)||11.7-13.8 gm/dL|
It is important to note that these figures and categories vary slightly across different laboratories. For example, not all laboratories or institutions bother to make a distinction between men and women on the post-middle age. Furthermore, for special situations like in the case of pregnant women, there could be a change in the level of hemoglobin that would be advised and considered as normal.
Causes Of Low Hemoglobin Level
Having the right/normal amount of hemoglobin in the body every time is very vital. Many people are suffering from anemia/low hemoglobin as a result of one thing or the other.
These causes include:
● Loss of blood through fatal injuries from accidents, surgeries, colon cancer, or stomach ulcer.
● Deficiency in vital nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, among others.
● Bone marrow issues as a result of cancer.
● Impediment of red blood cell synthesis as a result of drugs used in chemotherapy.
● Kidney failure.
Ways To Increase Hemoglobin In The Body
The effects of a low level of hemoglobin are terrible. However, like many other conditions in the body, through conscious choices, you can increase and restore the hemoglobin level in the body back to normal. The efficacy of these steps depends on the stage at which you detect hemoglobin shortage in your body. This is why regular medical checkup is important. Here are some ways to increase hemoglobin in the body:
1. Eat Food That Is High In Iron And Folate
Iron is pivotal for hemoglobin production in the body. As iron is transferred in the body via a glycoprotein known as transferrin, the body is enabled to produce more red blood cells which contain hemoglobin. Examples of iron-rich food include green vegetables, beetroot, tofu, apple, pumpkin seeds, apricot, egg, oysters, apple, pomegranate, watermelon, prunes dates etc.
Furthermore, an increase in the intake of folate in the body leads to an increase in hemoglobin. This is because folate is a vitamin B which is used by the body in producing heme. Heme is the part of the red blood cell that contains hemoglobin, hence high folate intake leads to higher hemoglobin production in the body. Examples of foods that are rich in folate are beans, spinach, lettuce, kidney beans, avocado, lettuce, spinach, beetroot etc.
2. Increase Your Vitamin C Intake
Vitamin C is most effective for hemoglobin production in the body when it is taken alongside iron. Vitamin C contains a molecule that helps it to absorb iron at a faster rate. There are several fruits that can be taken to help improve the amount of vitamin C in the body. These fruits include tomatoes, grapefruit, orange, lemon, papaya, broccoli, kiwis and a host of other fruits and meals. Get some oranges today and you are helping to increase the hemoglobin in your body!
If you have a low level of hemoglobin in your body, then it’s time to hit the gym or get some running shoes. Exercising has a direct effect on hemoglobin production in the body, since the body produces more hemoglobin in order to be able to meet up with the increased demand for oxygen in the body. The kinds of exercise that are recommended for this task includes moderate and high-intensity workouts that have the tendency to strain the body and cause a shortness of breath. You can’t go on a light workout if you intend to achieve the desired result.
4. Increase Your Intake Of Folic Acid
Folic acid is a kind of vitamin B that is vital in body functioning and production of red blood cells. It therefore, means that the lack of sufficient folic acid in the body automatically translates into a lack of hemoglobin. To increase the level of folic acid in the body, the following foods are very important: peanuts, broccoli, rice, vegetables, banana, and dried beans. You can also take in folic acid complements on the recommendation and prescription of your doctor.
5. Eat A Lot Of Apples
Apples can help increase and maintain the normal level of hemoglobin in the body. This is because the fruit is very rich in iron and other substances that are necessary for the proper functioning and production of hemoglobin. You can eat one apple a day (green apple is the best option) or you can take a fruit drink which contains half a cup of apple and half a cup of beetroot. Adding a little ginger and lemon to the drink would also be highly beneficial. Get some apples today because an apple a day is sure to keep the doctor away.
There are certain herbs that are very useful in the production of hemoglobin in the body because they are rich in vitamin B, iron and other necessary vitamins. An example is Withania somnifera which is a medicinal plant known to originate from India. It helps to increase hemoglobin in the body by improving the condition of the red blood cells. It also serves the purpose of calming the nervous system and dealing with irritation.
Another example is the nettle tea which is rich in iron, vitamin B and Vitamin C, all of which are necessary for normal hemoglobin level in the body. Take two cups of nettle tea every day and see the hemoglobin level in your body rise. There is also the ‘Dong Quai’ plant which has a root that helps to increase hemoglobin production in the body. All you need to do is prepare a soup with it.
7. Be Wary Of Food That Blocks Iron
Iron is very vital to hemoglobin production in the body. You must, therefore, ensure that you do not take in foods that would impede the absorption of iron into the body. Examples include coffee, wine, and cola. It would be extremely unwise to have been diagnosed with low hemoglobin and to go ahead and take any of the food and drinks highlighted above.
8. Increase Intake Of Vitamin B6 And B12
Vitamin B6 is very important in hemoglobin production in the body and as such, you should consume more of it. Examples of food and dietary items that help to increase vitamin B6 include beans, peas, nuts, banana, whole grains, cereals (fortified), lentils, liver, tuna fish, sunflower seeds, kidney, among others. Furthermore, Vitamin B12 is very useful and pivotal in the synthesis of hemoglobin; as such an increase of this nutrient in the body will also increase hemoglobin in the body. Food items such as eggs, fortified cereals, fish, etc. are very rich in Vitamin B12.
This is a fruit that is rich in protein, iron, calcium, and fiber and as a result, increases the proportion of hemoglobin in the body as well as the rate of blood flow. You can eat one middle-sized pomegranate a day or take a cup of pomegranate drink. You could also add crushed pomegranate seeds (two tablespoons) to a glass of milk every day. Either way, you are sure to increase the level of hemoglobin in your body.
This is very effective in the treatment of low hemoglobin since it helps to increase the amount of hemoglobin in the body. It contains, in rich quantities, iron, vitamin B and folic acid all of which are necessary for the production of hemoglobin in the body. All you need to do is mix two spoons of molasses with water and apple cider vinegar. Take this once a day and you would have an increased level of hemoglobin by the time you visit the doctor for another measurement.
11. Blood Transfusion
This is another way to improve the level of hemoglobin in the body, and it is used in severe cases. Where hemoglobin is severely low or where there is severe blood loss as a result of accident or surgery, blood transfusion is usually recommended. Blood transfusion is a largely safe medical procedure where blood is transferred through an intravenous line into an individual.
How to Increase Hemoglobin?
Some of the many ideas to increase hemoglobin include increasing the intake of food rich with iron, taking various supplements, transfusing red blood cells, or receiving erythropoietin, etc. But, natural ways to improve the hemoglobin count in blood are the best solutions till date. So, let’s start with some home remedies.
12. Iron-rich Foods to Increase Hemoglobin
Vegetarians can add broccoli, kale, spinach, green beans, cabbage, various lentils, tofu, potatoes, cereals, and bread to their diet. All of these items are rich with iron and can help you to maintain a healthy hemoglobin count.
You can also try some iron-rich fruits, such as,
If you are a non-vegetarian, you can also add whole egg, chicken liver and organ, oysters, shellfish, beef, clams, etc. with all the vegetarian food options mentioned above.
Apart from these, if you still want to increase your iron intake, then you can also try some other things such as;
Sesame seeds, etc.
13. Folate-rich Foods to Increase Hemoglobin
Folate is a B vitamin. The human body needs vitamin B to produce Heme. As mentioned earlier, Heme contains hemoglobin in red blood cells. So, it is apparent that you also consider taking Folate-rich foods to increase your level of hemoglobin.
You can get folate by eating more spinach, black-eyed peas, avocado, lettuce, rice, kidney beans, and peanuts. You can also add beef in your diet as it is a massive source of folate.
14. Increase Intake of Vitamin C and Vitamin A for Iron Absorption
Doctors and dieticians say that it is crucial for the body to receive a combination of iron and vitamin C. Basically, Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Thus, you should eat foods that are rich in vitamin C such as:
These food items carry rich nutrients which can help you absorb iron. If you don’t want to take them separately, you can also squeeze some fresh lemon over any iron food you take.
Apart from C, Vitamin A and beta-carotene can also help in the absorption of more iron. Any animal food sources or red, yellow, and orange vegetables can provide Vitamin A. Consider carrots, sweet potatoes, mangos, or winter squash in your diet. You can also add fish and liver to increase the amount of Vitamin A, which ultimately helps you with the iron absorption.
15. Folic Acid and Hemoglobin
Folic acid is necessary to make red blood cells. If you don’t have sufficient amount of folic acid, your body may not be able to make them. This automatically leads to a low level of hemoglobin. So, add a proportionate amount of folic acid in your daily diet. Try to include;
Green leafy vegetables
Chicken liver etc.
You may have heard about the importance of beetroot. It is highly recommended to increase the counts of red blood cells. It is a significant source of folic acid, iron, potassium, as well as fiber. Even if you don’t like the raw beetroot, you must find an alternative to consume it. You can also bake it or make beetroot juice. Both are equally nutritious.
16. “An Apple a Day, Keeps the Doctor Away”
Apples are rich in iron. They also contain nutrition, which helps increase the count of hemoglobin. Experts suggest having at least one apple every day. You can take it raw or in the form of juice. If you are taking it in liquid form, you can also add a ½ cup of beetroot juice in the apple juice. It is one of the best combinations ever to increase hemoglobin.
Apart from apples, you can try pomegranate. It is also rich in iron, calcium, fiber, and protein. Try adding some lemon juice and a pinch of ginger in your juice for added flavor. These ingredients can give some extra flavor to your juice. Pomegranate can also help to promote healthy blood flow.
17. Nettle Tea for Some Vari-tea
Nettle is a herb. It is a powerful source of B and C Vitamins as well as iron. It plays a vital role in improving the counts of hemoglobin. So, if you want to take a break from vegetables and juices, try drinking delicious Nettle tea. It’s easy to make! You just have to add two teaspoons of dried Nettle leaves into a cup of hot water. After that, wait for 10 to 15 minutes so that it can simmer. Finally, strain it and add a teaspoon of honey. Your tea is ready! Drink it twice a day for better results.
18. Say No to Blockers
There are many food items in the market which can block your body’s ability to absorb iron. This is quite risky for people who have low hemoglobin. So if you are trying to increase it, avoid consuming food items such as coffee, tea, or cola drinks.
Calcium: It is said that calcium is a significant source that stops iron-absorption. However, it is also one of the best nutrients for your body. Thus, you can’t eliminate it entirely from your diet, even for the sake of iron. But yes, you should avoid eating calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, seeds, and figs before or after taking iron-rich foods.
Phytic acid: You should also avoid phytic acid foods such as walnuts, brazil nuts, and sesame seeds while eating iron-rich foods. They can reduce the ability of iron-absorption, especially if you are vegetarian.. Just like calcium, do not eliminate phytic acid completely as it is also an essential nutrient for your body.
19. Exercise is a Key to Success
Doctors and dieticians suggest to workout, at least 40 minutes a day. Moderate or high-intensity exercises are highly recommended, as they increase the blood flow and produces more hemoglobin. Exercising also vital to meet the demand of Oxygen in the body.
20. Iron Supplements
All the remedies mentioned above take time. You have to be patient for a few months to see the difference in your level of hemoglobin. If you need to raise hemoglobin count in a short period, you will need to take iron supplements.
Always remember, if you have never taken supplements before you should consult the doctor first, Your doctor can guide you with a safe dosage to avoid any side effects. Generally, it is safe to take less than 25 mg at a time. Men need only 8 mg of iron per day while women need 18 mg. Pregnant women, though, need much more – 27 mg.
Taking too much iron is dangerous for your body. It can cause hemochromatosis, that is iron-overload. It can also cause liver disease, constipation, vomiting, or nausea.
The Bottom Line
Once you start this journey of increasing hemoglobin, you will start noticing a difference in your iron levels within two to three months. If you are taking oral iron-supplements, this process may be faster, and you will be able to see the difference within a week or a month, depending on your cause of deficiency of the Hemoglobin count.
As per my opinion, natural remedies are better than any unnatural treatments or operations. Let supplements be the last resort. Eat healthy food that’s rich in iron and exercise regularly. Your Hemoglobin levels will bounce back to normal pretty soon. Take care!
● Ensure that you take in Bread and other whole grains.
● After menstruation and during pregnancy, be sure to take food items that are rich in iron.
● Circulation of blood is aided by taking a cold bath twice a day.
● Avoid eating food that contains gluten.
Hemoglobin is very vital to the life of any individual and it must be measured regularly to ensure that you do not fall below or even above the normal level. Hemoglobin is so pivotal that the dreaded sickle cell condition stems from it. Sickle cell is simply a condition where the quality of hemoglobin in the body is defective. This then leads to abnormally shaped red blood cells that find it very difficult to go through blood vessels. The resultant effect of all these is that the body does not have enough oxygen flowing through it. It therefore, means that all the terrible symptoms of sickle cell such as bone pain, chest pain, and body ache are simply as a result of defective hemoglobin.
The sickle cell condition was used to explain the importance of hemoglobin so that you’ll take the matter very seriously. Consciously watch the food items and fruits you eat. Ensure that they are rich in iron and that they do not prevent the absorption of iron into your body. If you have been diagnosed of low hemoglobin, apply all the tips provided above and monitor your progress. You shouldn’t rely on your self-diagnosis alone; you need to take blood tests regularly. Lastly, don’t attempt to battle low hemoglobin on your own, contact your doctor anytime you notice it.
Diana Clark has gone a long path from being a recruiter to a successful career coach. She loves guiding people through their business practice and helps all confident women to make the transition from full-time employees to successful entrepreneurs. She also provides writing help at bestessaywriter. Connect Diana on Linkedin.