It is estimated that at least 24.8% of the world’s population has anemia. This translates to about 1.62 billion people with low hemoglobin levels.
The most affected people are children and women, especially pregnant women.
What is hemoglobin?
Hemoglobin is a special protein found in blood cells known as red blood cells. Hemoglobin—an iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color—enables red blood cells to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide. Red blood cells do not have nuclei, allowing for more room for hemoglobin. Hemoglobin allows red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
But this is not all it does. Hemoglobin is also responsible for transporting the carbon dioxide produced by the cells of the body to take it to the lungs. Then the carbon dioxide will be expelled with each exhalation and the hemoglobin will fill with a new oxygen particle.
How to increase hemoglobin levels in the blood?
You can increase hemoglobin levels naturally by making a few changes to your diet:
1. Eat foods with iron
To increase hemoglobin levels, you have to eat more iron. This is because iron is a mineral that our bodies use to make hemoglobin. In fact, a low iron diet will sooner or later lead to low hemoglobin.
When your hemoglobin levels are low, a good way to improve your numbers is to increase your iron intake.
Iron-rich foods to increase hemoglobin levels:
- Liver and viscera.
- Lean meats such as turkey.
- Cow meat.
- Seafood and oysters.
- Lentils and beans.
- Green beans.
- Foods fortified with iron (cereals, bread, among others).
- Nuts like walnuts and dehydrated fruits like raisins.
2. Improves iron absorption
In addition to eating foods high in iron, it is important to help the body absorb as much iron as possible.
It includes foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and beta-carotene. These nutrients increase the amount of iron our body absorbs.
Foods rich in vitamin C:
- Oranges and grapefruits.
- Red and green peppers.
- Foods fortified with added vitamin C.
Foods rich in vitamin A:
- Liver and viscera.
- Fish like salmon.
- Dairy products.
- Sweet potato.
Foods rich in beta-carotene:
3. Eat foods rich in folates
Folates, also known as folic acid or vitamin B9, are water-soluble vitamins, that is, they can dissolve in water.
This vitamin plays an important role in the production of hemoglobin as the body uses folates to produce “heme.”
The heme group is a fundamental component of hemoglobin. The main function of heme is to store and transport oxygen and carbon dioxide. It is also responsible for coloring the blood.
Not getting enough folates causes red blood cells to not mature. As a result, there will be low hemoglobin levels due to folate deficiency.
- Cow meat.
- Cow liver.
- Brussels sprouts.
- Mustard greens.
- Nuts like peanuts.
How to increase hemoglobin levels quickly?
The most practical way to increase your hemoglobin levels quickly is through food supplements. Your doctor will recommend taking iron supplements when hemoglobin levels are extremely low. Iron supplements are not the first choice for people in general because too much iron is dangerous.
Iron in large quantities can be toxic. An iron overdose can cause respiratory problems, intestinal discomfort such as liver pain, diarrhea, nausea, among other symptoms. Excess iron can also affect the central nervous system.
Similarly, you can also take supplements of folates, vitamin A and vitamin C. The appropriate dose for you will be indicated by your doctor.
You can also consider using a multivitamin. Just be sure to check with your doctor especially if you are taking another medication.
How to increase hemoglobin levels during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, a woman’s body adapts to support the health of the baby. The need for iron in the woman’s body increases as it is necessary to contribute to the development of the baby and the placenta. In addition, there is an increase in the production of red blood cells.
It is normal to have mild anemia during pregnancy. However, much more serious anemia can occur if nutrient delivery is not improved.
For this reason, pregnant women should take prenatal iron, folic acid, and vitamin supplements as soon as pregnancy is diagnosed.
You can also improve the result by increasing the consumption of foods rich in iron and folic acid.
Having low hemoglobin levels is a common problem. Although you can also prevent and treat it just by modifying your diet. The best way to monitor the rise in your hemoglobin levels is to visit your doctor.
- Jimenez, K., Kulnigg-Dabsch, S., & Gasche, C. (2015). Management of Iron Deficiency Anemia. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 11(4), 241–250.
- Garzon, S., Cacciato, P. M., Certelli, C., Salvaggio, C., Magliarditi, M., & Rizzo, G. (2020). Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnancy: Novel Approaches for an Old Problem. Oman medical journal, 35(5), e166. https://doi.org/10.5001/omj.2020.108