Are you feeling fatigued, drowsy, poor concentration, laziness, low appetite, hair loss and dizziness? This is the time to check your haemoglobin levels. Yes, the above-mentioned signs and symptoms are due to low haemoglobin levels.
Do you know what haemoglobin is?
Haemoglobin also is known as Hb or Hgb is an oxygen transporting protein. It is made up of two components i.e. Heme + Globin. Globin is a protein substance present in the blood that is responsible to carry oxygen and other important nutrients throughout the body. This protein substance binds with the heme i.e. the iron substance to work. So the two major functions of haemoglobin are to bind iron to the red blood cells and to transport oxygen from the blood to other body parts, it is haemoglobin that gives blood its red colour.
Low haemoglobin levels in the body are the sign of a condition known as anaemia.
The normal haemoglobin levels for males is 14-18 g/dl and for females in 12-16 g/dl, and anything below that is considered to be a deficiency.
Major causes of low haemoglobin levels:
- Blood loss: This can be due to an accident, heavy bleeding, heavy menstrual flow.
- Lack of production: The bone marrow is responsible to produce red blood cells or haemoglobin when there is a bone marrow failure or there is a reduced production by the bone marrow it leads to aplastic anaemia.
- Breakdown of red blood cells: This condition is called haemolytic anaemia.
- Nutritional deficiency: When the diet is deficient in vitamin B12, iron and folic acid it too can lead to anaemia.
Nutritional anaemia is the only type that we can control, so to control that, it is important to consume a diet that is rich in all three nutrients i.e. iron, folic acid and vitamin B12.
Foods that you can include in your diet to boost haemoglobin production:
- Meat and poultry products: Meat and poultry products contain non-veg heme or iron sources. They have high bioavailability and the iron is easily absorbed, making it more beneficial than vegetarian iron sources. Also, they are rich in vitamin B12 whose deficiency is also linked with low haemoglobin levels in the body.
- Chickpeas: For all those who are vegetarians, chickpeas are a good option.
- Seeds: Seeds like white and black sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds are a very good source of iron and can be easily consumed in the winter season as they have a warm potency.
- Soyabean: A commonly consumed legume among vegetarians is soyabean. Which is again is a very good source of iron and can be consumed in the form of tofu, soy milk, soya chunks or simply soya legumes.
- Nuts: Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and surprisingly peanuts are a good source of iron and protein too. Starting your day with nuts or munching them in the mid meals is not a bad idea too.
- Include Vit C rich foods in your diet: Consuming iron-rich food is not enough as iron will not get absorbed in the body without vitamin C. So including vitamin C rich foods in your diet will enhance iron absorption. Guava, Gooseberry, pineapple, lime are a good source of Vit C.
- Green vegetables: Broccoli, collard greens, kale are one of the best vegetarian sources for iron and folic acid.
A few other tips:
- Cook food in iron utensils: The conventional practice of cooking your food in iron utensils actually enhances the iron content of the food. Which also helps in improving haemoglobin levels in the body.
- Avoid consumption of calcium-rich food with iron-rich food items: Calcium hinders in the absorption of iron when consumed in combination. So for the better absorption of iron, avoid calcium-rich food items like milk, yoghurt, cheese etc along with iron-rich foods.
- Take supplementation: If the haemoglobin levels are extremely low it is important to not just depend on dietary sources of iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid and take iron supplementation as prescribed by the doctor.