HEMOGLOBIN AND LOW COUNT: Hemoglobin is basically a protein in our body which is rich in iron. It makes most of the component of red blood cell which is responsible for carrying oxygen to the cells and carbon dioxide away from the cells in the blood. It is a very important component of blood, so if the count is low, you may suffer from various diseases. A normal hemoglobin range for males is 14-18 gm/dl. For females, it is 12-16 mg/dl. A pregnant woman may have it around 11-12gm/dl. With age, the count decreases by 2-3mg/dl. A newborn has 17-22gm/dl of hemoglobin.
CAUSES FOR LOW HEMOGLOBIN: Low hemoglobin may be due to the following causes:
- Insufficient consumption of iron in the diet leads to decreased hemoglobin synthesis.
- Excessive or prolonged bleeding
- Inability to absorb iron from intestine due to diseases such as Crohn’s or celiac disease
- Kidney disease, diseases like leukemia, or certain medications like chemotherapy, results in decreased red cell production.
- Cell destruction in blood in diseases like sickle cell anemia and thalassemia
TIPS TO INCREASE HEMOGLOBIN: To increase hemoglobin counts naturally, one should take in enough iron to be sufficient for body needs. Here are some foods which you can incorporate in your diet to get enough of iron. Men, 10mg, and women should get 8mg of iron every day.
1-Foods rich in iron like liver, meat, beef, and shrimps should be consumed. For vegetarians, foods like asparagus, dry fruits, pineapple, iron rich bread, grains, and spinach would do. Add nuts in your diet if you are not allergic to it for a quick boost.
2-Foods rich in vitamin C also help you absorb more of the iron. Fruits and vegetables like mangoes, oranges, strawberries, cabbages, grape fruit, tomatoes, spinach, and broccoli give you a good amount of vitamin C.
3-Vitamin B, especially folic acid is essential in the synthesis of red blood cells. Peanuts, wheat germ, sprouts, and seeds contain folic acid. If you are taking a lot of vitamin C, get enough of folic acid, as vit C causes its excretion.
4-Whole grains in the form of cereals, bread, pasta are a very good source of iron.
5-Over the counter supplements of iron, vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and folic acid help increase the production of red blood cells with a good amount of hemoglobin to fight with the deficiency.
6-Some herbs also help replenish iron stores and so hemoglobin to counter the low counts. Nettle leaf, Withania, and dong quai are amongst those herbs used for centuries to increase the red blood cells. One should consult with a doctor to prevent its interaction with any other medication.
7-Sometimes blood transfusions are needed when blood loss is due to trauma or surgery
8-Colas, coffee, milk, tea, and foods rich in fiber and calcium should be avoided as these are iron blockers.
9-Foods rich in oxalic acid, like parsley, also prevents iron absorption.
10-People with celiac disease should avoid gluten which in turns blocks iron absorption.