You probably know that hemoglobin has something to do with iron, red blood cells, and anemia, and is important for your body to function. But, did you know that boosting your hemoglobin levels entails more than merely increasing your iron intake?
The production of hemoglobin is vital for your body, and iron, vitamins B12, B9, and C play an important role. It is necessary to have a proper diet to maintain an optimum level of hemoglobin. For that to happen, you need to boost the intake of foods that help in the synthesis of hemoglobin.
Caution: Do not attempt to diagnose or correct a low hemoglobin level without the supervision of a medical professional.
8 Foods That Improve Your Hemoglobin Levels
Why Is Hemoglobin Important?
Hemoglobin is basically a protein that is found in the red blood cells. Its most important function is to transport oxygen from the lungs to all the other cells, which helps sustain them. A low hemoglobin level results in anemia, and is influenced by many factors (3). Poor eating habits, poor absorption of the nutrients necessary for the production of hemoglobin, an increase in the required dosage due to pregnancy, blood loss, and even certain medications – they can all result in low levels of hemoglobin (4). The most common symptoms of a low hemoglobin count are fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, and chest pain, and it can lead to serious consequences affecting your cardiovascular system (5).
Foods Rich In Hemoglobin
Hemoglobin is more or less a compound of iron (6). So, it makes sense to include more iron in your diet to boost your hemoglobin levels. But there are other nutrients at work as well, particularly vitamins C, B12, and B9 or folate (7). Vitamin B12 and vitamin B9 are needed for the production of red blood cells. In fact, vitamin B9 is essential for the synthesis of heme, the part of hemoglobin that contains iron. Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron due to its reducing property, which is why it is important (8). It is necessary to have foods that are rich in all the components to boost the hemoglobin levels.
It is a well-known fact that meat, particularly red meat, is an excellent source of iron. The highest concentration of iron, vitamin B12, and folate can be found in the liver. Lamb’s liver boasts of the highest amount of vitamin B12, with 100 g containing 85.7 mcg, and it is also a significant source of folate, iron, and vitamin C, having 400 mcg, 10.2 mg, and 13 mg of each respectively (9). Other good sources are liver from beef, turkey, and chicken (10).
Seafood such as clam, oyster, and caviar provide more than your daily requirement of iron and vitamin B12. Clams are the richest source, with 100 grams containing 28 mg of iron, 22.1 mg of vitamin C, and 98.9 mcg of vitamin B12 (11).
For those who are vegans or vegetarians, it is necessary to include foods that are rich in iron. Legumes, as well as their derivative products, can be good sources. Soybeans, kidney beans, and chickpeas are the recommended legumes (12 ). Soybeans contain 15.7 mg of iron, 375 mcg of folate, 6 mg of vitamin C, and no vitamin B12, but they can be supplemented from other sources (13).
Starches such as rice bran, wheat bran, and oat bran are excellent sources of iron (14). But they do not contain vitamin C or B12, and are not a significant source of folate.
Caution: Those diagnosed with celiac disease should avoid gluten-containing foods (15).
Vitamin C is essential for the absorption of iron, and thus for boosting your hemoglobin levels. Fruits such as oranges, lemons, guavas, and litchis are recommended because of their high vitamin C content (16).
While it is easy to find vegetables that are rich in iron, they fall short as sources of folate and have no vitamin B12. To boost your hemoglobin levels, you must turn to seaweed, 100 g of which contains 28.5 mg of iron and 93 mcg of folate (17). Beetroot is often recommended to boost your hemoglobin because of its high folate content (18). It is also a good source of vitamin C and iron.
Although spices such as thyme, parsley, spearmint, and cumin seeds are rich in iron, the amount that is usually consumed is not significant enough to make much difference (19), (20), (21). But they do provide an added boost to your daily iron requirement.
Eggs have been touted as the breakfast of the champions for a reason. A single egg has 0.55 mcg of vitamin B12, 22 mcg of folate, and 0.59 mg of iron (22).
Maintaining your hemoglobin levels is crucial to your health, and a deficiency can have adverse effects. So, it is necessary to include the required amounts of iron, folate, and vitamins C and B12 in your diet to stay healthy.
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