Haemoglobin is one of the major components of the red blood cells. It is due to the haemoglobin in our blood that oxygen is carried to the rest of the body. It also transports carbon dioxide out of the cells and back to the lungs to be exhaled. It is very important to have an adequate haemoglobin level in the blood to ensure its healthy functioning.
For men, HB level less than 13.5grms per deciliter and in women 12grms per deciliter is considered unhealthy. It is imperative to maintain a good level of haemoglobin. A person with low levels of haemoglobin is considered anaemic.
What can happen if your haemoglobin level is low?
Low haemoglobin levels can cause many problems in the body. Low levels of haemoglobin can cause weakness, fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, poor appetite and rapid heartbeat. A person who looks pale and feels sluggish all the time should get his/her haemoglobin checked.
Women are more susceptible to low haemoglobin. Why?
Women are more prone to anaemia than men. Menstruating women tend to lose blood every month which leads to dropping levels of haemoglobin. It is very important for women to be more cautious about their diet while they are menstruating because it can lead to anaemia.
Also, women who are pregnant and the teenage girls are prone to have low levels of haemoglobin. How can you maintain good haemoglobin levels at home without medication? Here are a few tips for you to follow:
How to increase your haemoglobin levels?
To increase your haemoglobin levels naturally the only way is through diet. A good diet can do a lot otherwise you will have to switch to medication if the situation gets worse. Here are a few simple tips to increase haemoglobin levels naturally:
Iron-rich diet: Iron-rich foods can help greatly in boosting your iron levels. But many of us are unaware of which all foods are rich in iron. Here is the list of foods that must be included in your diet:
- Vegetarian food: Spinach, tofu, asparagus, broccoli, green peas, avocado, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, cauliflower, lettuce and soybean
- Fruits: Beetroot, pomegranate, watermelon, apple, apricot, oranges, papaya, grapefruit, banana, guava, peaches, litchis, kiwis and mulberries.
- Non-vegetarian: Eggs, chicken liver, oyster, meat, seafood, and clams.
- Other foods: Dates, almonds, amla, raisin, prunes, pumpkin seeds, dried beans, sprouts, peanuts, brown rice, dark chocolate, whole grains, yoghurt, lentils, sesame seeds and legumes like soy nuts, red kidney beans, black-eyed peas, black beans etc.
Maximize iron absorption: The body cannot absorb iron on its own. It needs certain food supplements to ensure a 100% absorption of extra iron you are putting in. Here is the list of the extras that you need to have to ensure 100% iron absorption in the body:
- Vitamin C: When you eat something rich in iron it is also important to take some vitamin C rich food along. Vitamin C plays a major role in absorption of iron in the blood. Vitamin C foods include orange juice, lemon water, strawberries and all the green leafy vegetables. So make sure to have some vitamin C rich food along with iron-rich foods.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A also helps your body to absorb more iron. Vitamin A rich food includes fish, liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes and all the red, yellow and orange fruits.
Avoid things that decrease iron absorption: There are a few food items that decrease the iron absorption in the body. Calcium is very important for the body but it decreases iron absorption. You must not completely eliminate calcium from your diet but limit its intake if you are on an iron-rich diet. Other iron-blocking agents are tea, coffee, cola drinks, wine and beer.
Increase folic acid intake: Folic acid is a B-complex vitamin that is required to make red blood cells. A low level of folic acid means a low level of haemoglobin. It is important to add folic acid in your daily diet to maintain a healthy level of folic acid. Foods rich in folic acid are green leafy vegetables, sprouts, wheat gram, peanuts, bananas, broccoli and chicken liver.
Exercise: No diet can do anything if you don’t work out. To extract the nutrients from the diet you take, it is important to indulge in some physical activity. Moderate to high-intensity workout is highly recommended to produce more haemoglobin in the body.
How much iron is required?
Each day Iron requirement differs in accordance with age, gender, weight and nutrition level. On a general level, a male needs 8mg iron a day whereas a woman needs 19mg iron a day. The difference is because women tend to lose blood every month and that needs to be restored.
When to see a doctor?
Low haemoglobin levels can have adverse effects on an average person’s body. It is very important to ensure that your blood is rich in iron. Some cases of low haemoglobin levels cannot get fixed with diet and need special attention. So, contact your doctor if you have the following symptoms of iron-deficiency:
- Pale skin/ gums
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Frequent headaches
- Frequent on unexplained bruising
Some people have naturally low haemoglobin levels count without any underlying cause. Others have low haemoglobin but have no symptoms. That is why it is advisable to have a general blood test half-yearly. In chronic cases or pregnancy cases, your doctor may advise getting iron transfusion. But the situation never reaches there if you take care of yourself at home only.