Haemoglobin is a type of protein found in the body that is responsible for the production of red blood cells and transports oxygen to other organs. Having low haemoglobin count can make it difficult for your lungs to expel the carbon dioxide as your cells collect this from various tissues in the body in order to expel it. In short, a low haemoglobin blood count not only leads to fatigue, anaemia, and other symptoms, it could also be fatal to your well-being.
What Is Meant by Low Haemoglobin Count?
The normal haemoglobin count in men is 14 grams per decilitre of blood while for women the normal range is 12 grams per decilitre of blood. Low haemoglobin blood counts lead to consequences like anaemia resulting from iron deficiency, pregnancy complications, liver issues, and urinary tract infections.
Diseases related to a low haemoglobin blood count include:
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Hodgkin’s Disease
- Nutritional Deficiencies
In general, if your haemoglobin blood count is not too low, you won’t feel much of a difference, however, with lower levels, your quality of life will be impaired due to fatigue and other health complications arising from it. You could have low haemoglobin levels if you’re going through menstruation since severe blood loss is known to lead to a low haemoglobin blood count.
Ways to Increase Haemoglobin Count
There are various ways you can increase your haemoglobin blood count. Here are 8 ways to increase haemoglobin in your body:
1. Eat Foods Rich in Iron
Maximise your iron intake by eating foods like shellfish, kale, spinach, and fruits and vegetables. We recommend iron-rich foods like raisins, dates, eggs, green beans, and leafy vegetables like spinach. Nuts and seeds like Brazil nuts, almonds, chia seeds, and cashews are other fantastic options in terms of foods to increase haemoglobin fast. For those who like meats, ground beef and chicken breasts are popular iron-rich food sources.
When adding meat to your diet, go for low-fat lean meats and opt for grass-fed varieties. For 3.5 ounces of chicken breast, you get up to 0.7 mg of iron while 85 grams of ground beef supplies up to 2.1 mg of iron. Seafood like clams, oyster and caviar are also known to help you meet your everyday RDA for iron and clams are known to be the best go-to source for it – supplying a whopping 28 mg of iron and 22.1 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams of it.
2. Increase Your Folate Intake
If you are wondering how to increase haemoglobin in blood despite increasing your iron intake – the answer is folate.
Folate or Vitamin B9 is required to make red blood cells in your body. By increasing your folate intake through your diet, your iron levels and haemoglobin production will go up. To increase your folate intake, eat foods like beetroot, avocados, peanuts, kidney beans, beef, and lettuce.
3. Using OTC Iron Supplements
If you’ve got a severe case of anaemia or other health issues due to a low haemoglobin blood count, you may find it helpful to supplement. There are various supplements available like multivitamins and exclusive OTC iron supplements. If you’re planning to go for the over-the-counter ones, talk to your doctor regarding the required dosages based on your bloodwork. And remember, it literally takes months of supplementation for your body to yield results so don’t expect a turnaround in a few days.
4. Improve Your Iron Absorption Rates
All the iron intake in the world won’t make a difference if your body is not able to absorb it. This is where pairing Vitamin C-rich foods like lemon juice and strawberries and leafy green vegetables will help. Include Vitamin A and beta-carotene based foods in your diet, since these two nutrients aid in the absorption and use of iron in the body. Good sources of these include fish, liver, sweet potatoes, collard greens, mangoes, squash, and carrots. However, avoid consuming too much of these, as an overdose of this nutrient can lead to a condition called hypervitaminosis A which causes joint paint and headaches.
5. Drink Herbal Teas
Drinking herbal teas such as nettle tea can help in increasing haemoglobin levels in your blood. Just stir in two teaspoons of dried nettle levels and let it sit for 10 minutes. If you want some flavour, add a pinch of honey or dry date powder for taste. Drink it and make sure to have this two to three times a day for best results. You can also try dandelion tea. Buy the edible parts, powder them, and make herbal concoctions out of them. If you want, you could take these in the form of supplements form but ask your GP about it before doing that.
Improving your blood circulation is a surefire way to increase your haemoglobin production since your body creates more RBCs to meet the demand for increased oxygenation to various parts. If you’re looking for recommendations, HIIT and Cardio are your best bets. Opt for whole body workouts if you don’t know where to start and if you are facing health implications. Do low-Impact workouts or hire a professional trainer or physical therapist to help you out.
There are tons of options where workouts are concerned but the key takeaway is to start at a place and pace that works for you. With time, you can increase the intensity or difficulty levels but start easy, especially if you’ve been sedentary for a while.
7. Increase Your Vitamin C Intake
Vitamin C influences haemoglobin production in your body so if you up its intake, you’ll notice pleasant results. Eat fruits like apples, pomegranates, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons that are rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C basically boosts your haemoglobin absorption. And if you like to eat pomegranates, you’ll like its juice too. Drink a glass of fresh homemade pomegranate juice. Avoid processed foods and drinks since those are loaded with added sugar and are low in nutrients. Eat as natural as you possibly can to boost your absorption.
8. Befriend Lentils/Legumes
Lentils and legumes are not only excellent plant-based sources of protein, but they boost your iron intake and up your haemoglobin levels with time. Good sources are mung beans, fava beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and adzuki beans. Try pairing these with brown/black rice and you’ll have meals which are not only filling but ones that help you meet your daily nutritional requirements.
Some of these foods are also rich in zinc and selenium; these trace minerals can influence the haemoglobin production in your body.
Here are a few common questions with regards to your haemoglobin levels. Keep in mind that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to boosting your haemoglobin count which is why it is important to consult your doctor before eating anything. Now, without further ado here we answer your queries:
1. How Much Iron Do You Need Daily?
Your iron intake depends on your age, gender, weight, and overall well-being. Roughly, adults require a minimum of 8 mg iron a day while women between the ages of 18 and 50 need up to 19 mg per day.
2. What Causes Low Haemoglobin Levels?
Low haemoglobin levels are caused by various factors. The most common reasons are a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, and consuming substances which are iron blockers like caffeine, specific drugs, and medications. Having any medical diseases or health complications like hypothyroidism, diabetes, and anaemia could also influence and lead to low haemoglobin levels in the body.
3. What Happens If Your Haemoglobin Is Low?
If your haemoglobin level is too low you’ll experience symptoms like fatigue, weakness in the muscles, unexplained bruising, and recurring headaches. You’ll notice a rapid but irregular heartbeat and have pale skin. Ignoring these symptoms and worsening your condition could lead to complications like anaemia and in extreme cases, even death if left ignored. If your condition is serious, you may even require a blood transfusion or immediate medical treatment.
In a nutshell, if your haemoglobin levels are too low, your organs won’t get sufficient oxygen. This could lead to organ failure, impaired lung function, and cause other serious side effects and health complications. Hypercapnia is another condition which may arise from too much Carbon dioxide build up in your body.
We’ve talked about how to boost your haemoglobin production but you must also understand that poor lifestyle habits and nutrition are the root causes behind it. As long as you work on that, you won’t have to worry about low haemoglobin levels.