Whenever I do a blood test, the first thing I look for is the hemoglobin level. This is because since I remember, my hemoglobin has always been on the lower side. Even lesser than the lower acceptable limit. This is a very common problem for many people especially women. The symptoms of low hemoglobin are fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, pale skin, brittle nails, rapid heartbeat and poor appetite. These symptoms often go ignored assuming it could due to tiredness or lack of sleep or too much work. Thus, it is important to do complete blood tests at regular intervals.
Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein responsible for transporting oxygen from your lungs to other areas of your body so that living cells can function properly. It also helps carry carbon dioxide away from the cells back to the lungs. Thus, hemoglobin plays a very important role in maintaining a healthy life.
The most common cause for low hemoglobin is deficiencies of iron, folic acid, and vitamins C and B12. Thus, having foods rich in these nutrients would help increase hemoglobin levels. Here is a list of foods that will help increase hemoglobin levels significantly and help keep up overall energy level and health too.
Iron Rich foods
Food has two types of iron — heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in meat, fish and poultry whereas non heme iron is found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. They are both absorbed differently by the body. Click here to know the details.
Some good easily available iron rich foods are – Non-vegetarian foods like liver, red meat and shrimp, lentils like soya beans, kidney beans (rajma), black eyes peas(chowli) and chick peas(chole), vegetables like spinach and beetroot, nuts like almonds, cashew pine and peanuts, tofu, dates, figs.
Foods rich in folic acid
Folic acid is a B-complex vitamin. This vitamin is used to make red blood cells. Thus, a deficiency in folic acid would automatically lead to a deficiency in hemoglobin.
Sources of folic acid include lentils, dried beans, peas, nuts, avocado, dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, collard or turnip greens, okra(bhindi) and asparagus and citrus fruits and juices.
Foods rich in Vit C
Vitamin C plays an important role in the absorption of non heme iron. So especially if you are a vegetarian then having sources of vitamin C along with iron will help in the absorption of the non heme iron. Thus increasing hemoglobin.
Sources of vitamin C include papaya, oranges, lemon, lime, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and spinach.
Foods rich in Vit B12
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can affect the production of red blood cells, decreasing the number of red blood cells circulating in the blood. Therefore decreasing the amount of hemoglobin available for oxygen transport.
Sources of vitamin B12 include clams, beef, chicken, crab, eggs and soy products like tofu and soy milk.
Consuming these foods will surely help in increasing your hemoglobin levels significantly. Another precaution one must take is avoid having certain foods. Foods like tea, coffee, colas, wine, beer and calcium rich foods like butter, cheese, paneer and milk block our body’s ability to absorb iron. So, these are a no-no.
I have included some of these in my daily routine. I have 7 dates every morning. Beetroot is another ingredient I try to include often in salads and sandwiches. I have nuts kept in transparent bottles on my dining table and have them daily too.
Would love to hear your secrets and recipes that help you maintain your hemoglobin levels and keep you strong and energetic.