Hemoglobin is a protein in our red blood cells that combines with oxygen and transports it to various body parts. It makes the blood red and helps to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Hemoglobin contains four protein molecules (globulin chains) and four heme groups, which include iron molecules. Iron is a vital mineral required for the production of Haemoglobin. However, sometimes, hemoglobin levels can get too low due to several factors, resulting in fatigue, weakness, pallor, difficulty breathing, anemia, etc.
Causes Of Low Hemoglobin
Below are some potential reasons you have low hemoglobin:
1. Bleeding Issues
Various kinds of bleeding issues can cause low hemoglobin, such as excessive menstrual bleeding, continuous bleeding in your (GI) tract due to colon cancer or an ulcer, and bleeding in your gastrointestinal tract due to the overdose of aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Aleve (ibuprofen).
2. Inadequate Red Blood Cell Production
Although the bone marrow produces red and white blood cells, medical conditions like lymphoma, leukemia, aplastic anemia, pernicious anemia, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, chronic kidney disease, and chemotherapy can stop it from producing enough red blood cells.
Moreover, conditions like enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), sickle cell anemia, and thalassemia can quickly kill the cells before your body can replace them despite the body producing adequate red blood cells.:
3. Insufficient Nutrient Intake
Your hemoglobin will get low due to your body’s inability to absorb iron, which affects red blood cell production. Also, a low iron diet results in iron deficiency anemia and a lack of essential nutrients such as vitamins B12 and B9, which can cause pernicious and megaloblastic anemia, leading to low hemoglobin.
4. Other Causes
Additional causes of low hemoglobin levels are recent gastrointestinal (GI) surgery that hinders iron absorption, regular blood donation, and psychological changes like pregnancy or, in children, a growth spurt.
People with slightly below-normal low hemoglobin levels may not show any symptoms. Over time, others may exhibit symptoms that can get severe. Most individuals with low hemoglobin experience dizziness or fainting, muscle weakness, fatigue, pale skin, and headache.
Preventing low hemoglobin is usually not possible due to its several potential causes. For instance, blood loss from an injury or surgery is beyond your control. Nevertheless, you can control low hemoglobin from the diet.
- Consume food with adequate iron and B12 to increase hemoglobin production. You can also consider eating meat. Therefore, vegans or vegetarians should consult a healthcare provider about receiving enough iron and B12 in their diet. Fortunately, there are many vegetarian and vegan sources of these nutrients.
- Foods that can increase hemoglobin levels are red meat, fatty fish, turkey, chicken, tofu, beans, and lentils, and dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard, or collard greens. Note that cereal, bread, and pasta are highly rich in iron, B12, and dried fruits.
- You can effectively increase your iron intake when consuming plant-based food by eating vitamin C-rich foods simultaneously. Vitamin C-rich foods to mix with iron-rich foods include citrus fruits, berries, and tomatoes.
- Consider dietary supplements; however, seek guidance from a healthcare provider if it suits you. They may advise you to take an iron, B12, or folic acid supplement.
You can treat low hemoglobin in the following ways:
- Blood transfusion: A blood transfusion from healthy blood through an IV line can treat low hemoglobin to regain significant blood loss.
- Vitamin supplementation: If you’re experiencing dietary deficiencies, consider vitamin supplements with iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12. It will boost your hemoglobin levels in six to eight weeks
- Intravenous (IV) infusion: Individuals who need to boost their iron levels immediately may need an IV infusion of iron or B12.
- Bone marrow transplants: Low hemoglobin due to cancers usually need bone marrow transplants.
If a chronic condition is responsible for the low hemoglobin levels, treatment will include managing that condition.
Hemoglobin, a protein in our red blood cells that combines with oxygen and transports to various body parts, can sometimes be low. Its causes include bleeding problems, red blood cell production, or nutrient deficiencies.
Symptoms include dizziness and fatigue. It can be prevented by consuming a diet rich in iron and B12 and can be treated through blood transfusions, supplements, bone marrow transplants, etc. Learning these factors is vital for overall health.