Low hemoglobin count is quite common in India, especially in women.However, most of us are not aware of it. It is only during any routine health checkup or during any blood investigations, we get to know that our hemoglobin count is low. But , you should know that low hemoglobin count if left untreated, can lead to iron deficiency anemia.
While iron deficiency anemia is one of the major reasons for low hemoglobin count, there are other factors that can put you at risk of low levels of hemoglobin. Some of the common health conditions that can lead to low hemoglobin count include pregnancy, menstruation, liver disease, recent surgical intervention or urinary tract infection.
Before we discuss few home remedies to increase hemoglobin levels in blood there are some things you need to know.
What is low hemoglobin count?
According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) for the year 2015-16, iron deficiency in India is rampant. It was reported that around 55.9% children in the age group of six months to less than a year are anemic (hemoglobin count less than 11.00 g/dl) and almost 50.8% women in the age group of 15 years to 49 years has hemoglobin count less than 13.0 g/dl.
If the level of hemoglobin is less than the normal hemoglobin range, the person is known to have low hemoglobin levels and hence, needs to consult a doctor. Here is the normal range of hemoglobin in blood for women, men and children:
Women: 12.1 – 15.1 gm/l
Men: 13.8 – 17.2 gm/l
Children: 11.0 – 16.0 gm/l
Undergoing a blood test can help you know if the hemoglobin levels are normal or not. Also, there are certain symptoms that can indicate low hemoglobin count in blood.
What are the symptoms of low hemoglobin in blood?
Hemoglobin is a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. In most cases, a slight decrease in the hemoglobin level does not cause any symptoms, which is the reason, most people do not consult a doctor. Despite remaining unnoticed and untreated most of the time, low hemoglobin has its own peculiar symptoms that would help a practitioner identify the underlying cause. Some of the key symptoms of low hemoglobin count are —
-General weakness with fatigue
-Shortness of breath
-Dizziness accompanied by frequent nausea
-Pale skin and brittle nails
-Effortless bruising and lack of clotting
-Weak bones and joint pain
-Inability to focus and concentrate
How to improve blood hemoglobin count?
Most cases of low hemoglobin count can be treated with simple lifestyle changes like eating a healthy and balanced diet and regular exercise. In some cases, iron supplements and medications might be needed. Here are a few simple tips and home remedies to increase hemoglobin level in blood.
Increase the intake of iron-rich foods: Some of the rich sources of iron are spinach, chicken liver, asparagus, meat, broccoli, green peas, beans, fenugreek leaves, seafood, ground beef, cauliflower and tomatoes. Also, eat fruits rich in iron such as papaya, oranges, beetroot, pomegranate, banana, peaches, mulberries, apple, lychees, kiwi, guavas, apricots, watermelon, strawberries, which provide the necessary iron naturally.
Including legumes (like soya, red kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, fava beans, black eyed peas), dates, almonds, wheat germ, sprouts, Indian gooseberry, herbs (like nettle leaves, colocasia leaves), brown rice, whole grains and sesame seeds in diet can help you to keep your hemoglobin level in normal limits.
Include foods rich in Vitamin C along with iron-rich foods in diet: Most people eat iron-rich foods but still fail to maintain normal hemoglobin count. The reason being, iron present in food is not absorbed by the body. Hence, including Vitamin C is advised as it helps the absorption of iron in the body. Foods that are rich in Vitamin C are citrus fruits (like Indian gooseberry, oranges, lemon), strawberries, and dark leafy green vegetables.
Increase the intake of folic acid: A B-complex class of vitamin, folate plays a key role in the production of red blood cells and lack of it not only lowers hemoglobin levels but also increases the risk of anemia. Hence, foods rich in folic acid are advised for people with low hemoglobin count. Folic acid is naturally found in green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, liver, fortified cereals, rice, peanuts, bananas, sprouts, broccoli, and dried beans. Although folic acid supplements are available OTC, you should only take it after consulting a doctor. The recommended dose of folic acid supplements is about 200-400 mg a day.
Avoid foods that block iron absorption in the body: Most of us are aware that calcium is a major iron blocker in the body. Calcium supplements should be taken about an hour earlier or after iron intake as it hinders iron absorption in the body. Other iron blockers are foods rich in tannins such as tea, coffee, wine, beer, cola and aerated drinks.
Opt for high intensity workouts when you exercise: The role of exercise in maintaining the overall health is undisputed. Exercise not only keeps your fit and healthy but also helps improve the blood circulation, aiding the production of hemoglobin. Studies have proved that moderate to high intensity workouts can improve hemoglobin levels in people with iron deficiency anemia.
Take iron supplements only after consultation: Iron supplements are prescribed by physicians in case the hemoglobin level is very low. The recommended dosage of iron supplements for men is 8 mg per day, while it is 18 mg a day for women. For pregnant women, however, the dosage is 27 mg a day. As a precautionary measure, one should not take more than 29 mg of supplements a day as it can lead to side effects like nausea, constipation and vomiting. In acute cases, it may even cause liver cirrhosis.
Note to readers: Remember that hemoglobin acts as the oxygen carrying protein in the body. Hence, it is important to maintain the blood levels of hemoglobin within the permissible limits of 12-14 mg/dl. Any changes in the hemoglobin count (value below or above it) is not only detrimental to the health but must be treated immediately to avoid complications like iron deficiency anemia and liver disease.