What happens to the body when the hemoglobin level drops? How does this affect women particularly? Dieticians and nutritionists cannot stress enough about women’s health and the importance of healthy foods for promoting blood cells. Anemia is a health issue for most women. Here hemoglobin plays an important role. Maintaining hemoglobin levels is easier said than done. However, a drop in the level causes more than just a crook. It takes many medications and much more patience to follow up with the treatments. So How to Increase Hemoglobin level quickly? In this article, we shall learn all about that. 

What is hemoglobin- its structure and function?

There can never be enough studies about the importance of hemoglobin. The hemoglobin found in red blood cells is not sentient beings. So how do they know when to pick up and drop off the oxygen? Hemoglobin comprises globin proteins and an iron-rich compound known as haem. It is found in red blood cells and is involved in transporting oxygen around the body. Red blood cells do not have a nucleus, increasing the space for hemoglobin. There are approximately three hundred million hemoglobin molecules in each red blood cell of the human body. 

The structure of hemoglobin enables it to carry oxygen with high efficiency. It has a quaternary structure of four globin subunits, most commonly two alpha and two beta subunits. In the center of each globin subunit, there is a haem group where oxygen binding occurs. Each hemoglobin molecule can therefore bind with four molecules of oxygen, one on each hem group. Oxygen binds to hemoglobin in the lungs, where oxygen concentration is high. The binding of oxygen is a coordinated process. This implies that when an oxygen molecule connects to one of the haem groups, the protein undergoes a conformational shift, making it simpler for oxygen to bind to the other haem groups.

Quick facts:

  1. Hemoglobin A is the most common type of hemoglobin found in adults. 
  2. A developing fetus also needs oxygen from its mother’s blood. Fetuses and young infants have different types of hemoglobin from adults. Fetal hemoglobin is called hemoglobin F. 
  3. People with sickle cell disease have hemoglobin S. 
  4. Individual red blood cells last about 120 days in our circulatory system before their function declines, and they are removed from the body. 
  5. During the lifespan of a red blood cell, the hemoglobin molecules inside accumulate a form of modification called glycation. Glycation is the unregulated attachment of a sugar molecule, glucose, to amino acids in a protein. People with diabetes have a higher generation of glycation. 

What are High and Low Hemoglobin Counts? 

The normal hemoglobin value for a healthy male adult should be between 13-17 g/dl. And the normal value of hemoglobin for a healthy female adult should be between 12-15 g/dl. When the value of hemoglobin is higher than the normal range, it is called high blood count; when the value is lower than the normal range, it is called low blood count. Usually, there is a decline in an individual’s hemoglobin or blood count, especially in women.

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Chest pain
  3. Cold hands and feet
  4. Swelling of hands and feet
  5. Fatigue
  6. Dizziness
  7. Skin or eye paleness
  8. Headache

Also, Read How to cure shortness of breath due to acid reflux?

What causes low hemoglobin count?

  1. Deficiency of iron in the diet- hemoglobin formation declines
  2. Deficiency of vitamin B12- RBC production reduces
  3. Leukemia
  4. Sickle cell anemia
  5. Blood loss due to surgery or major injury
  6. Internal bleeding
  7. Spleen infection
  8. Heavy period flow in case of women

How to Increase Hemoglobin level quickly?

There are certain over-the-counter medications and supplements available to increase hemoglobin. The most common medications include multivitamins, iron, folic acid, or supplements. 

  • Most multivitamin supplements do not contain iron as it reacts with zinc and calcium. It is better to select one which does not contain iron in it. 
  • Iron boosts the formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells as they are made up of protein and iron components. On average, an adult should consume 17 to 19 mg of iron every day.
  • Iron tablets which are gentle on the stomach, should be consumed separately, ideally an hour before the afternoon or evening meal. 
  • Do not consume it on an empty stomach before breakfast. Iron side effects can cause constipation and stomach irritation. 
  • You should also include a regular folic acid supplement. Folic acids do not cause side effects and can be consumed at any time of the day. Folic acid boosts red blood cell production, which affects the hemoglobin count. 

Take these supplements under the supervision of your doctor or nutritionist. 

Dietary measures to increase hemoglobin – 

  1. Hemoglobin can be increased through two sources. One is heme iron, and the other is nonheme iron. Heme sources of iron come from animals. Heme sources include food such as fish, salmon, tuna, and meat, including chicken, pork, beef, eggs, and dairy milk. On the other hand, non-heme sources are found in plants. They include food such as green vegetables, leafy vegetables, Brussels sprouts, raisins, dates, whole grain wheat, beans and legumes, nuts, and seeds. Dark chocolate, which is over 50% dark, is also a nonheme source of iron which is loaded with iron and can help increase hemoglobin count in the red blood cells. Including all these foods in a well-balanced diet can increase and maintain good hemoglobin levels. 
  2. Eat folate-rich foods to increase hemoglobin levels quickly. Folic acid maintains the production of red blood cells. The more the production of red blood cells, the more there will be hemoglobin in the body. Include folate-rich food in your diet, such as beetroot, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, avocado, peanut, mustard leaves, etc. Complex carbs, such as oats, millets, quinoa, brown rice, etc., are also packed with folic acid. You can get your folate intake with the foods mentioned above. All these foods are super nutritious and can help maintain the number of vitamins and minerals in the body. 
  3. Eat citrus fruits and foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps better absorption of iron and folate in the body, which passively helps increase hemoglobin levels. Include food like Amlaki or Indian gooseberry(Amla), Acerola cherry, bell peppers, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, lemon, etc. 
  4. Spinach is an excellent food rich in iron, folate, and Vitamin C. However, spinach also contains oxalate, a chemical that inhibits iron absorption. Hence, adding lemon juice to your spinach is necessary to increase its absorption. 
  5. Another good food source to include in your diet is wheat germ. Wheat germ is an excellent source of magnesium, zinc, thiamin, potassium, phosphorus, and folic acid. You can add a spoonful of wheat germ powder to a bowl of yogurt or your regular oatmeal or cereals. 
  6. Beetroot is one of the best food sources to increase hemoglobin levels. It is not only high in iron content but also rich in folic acid along with potassium and fiber. Drink fresh beetroot juice every day to ensure a healthy blood count. Squeeze a lemon or add lime juice to the mixture to better absorb all of its nutrients. 
  7. Avoid iron blockers in your diet. Certain foods function like iron blockers if you have a low hemoglobin level. These are caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and emulsifiers. Avoid excessive amounts of tea and coffee as they are loaded with caffeine. Avoid sweetened drinks and beverages as they are loaded with sugar. Avoid packaged juices and foods that contain artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and emulsifiers. They damage the blood cells, thus causing a decline in hemoglobin levels. 

Combining all of these foods will ensure proper regulation of the body’s red blood cells and hemoglobin. 

Also, Read Signs That You May Have Diabetes – Early signs of diabetes.

Other tips to increase hemoglobin –

  1. Use iron utensils for cooking meals. Cooking your food in cast-iron utensils fortifies it with oil, making it the best solution for people suffering from low hemoglobin levels. Whether making a stirred dish or gravy, cook it in this healthy iron utensil. Cook unripe bananas in this iron vessel. That would be a nutritious iron-rich meal. Also, include plenty of fluid in your diet to better digestion of these foods and supplements in the body. 
  2. Exercise regularly to maintain and regulate healthy blood circulation in the body. Studies have shown an increase in the production of red blood cells with regular exercise. Jogging, walking, swimming, jumping rope, cycling, or aerobic dancing will increase your hemoglobin levels. The science behind this is that during these activities, the tissues and cells in the body require more oxygen. This increased oxygen binds with the hemoglobin, causing an increase in its production. 
  3. Avoid smoking and drinking to increase hemoglobin levels in the body. Smoking and drinking alcohol hinders the blood, damage the red blood cells, and cause a decline in hemoglobin levels. 

Following these tips religiously increases hemoglobin levels in your blood quickly.

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