What is hemoglobin?
Hemoglobin is a protein located in red blood cells. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and returns carbon dioxide from there to the lungs.
Hemoglobin consists of four protein molecules, which are interconnected. An interesting fact is, that the iron contained in hemoglobin is the cause of its red color.
Hemoglobin plays a very important role in maintaining the shape of red blood cells. In its natural form, red blood cells resemble a donut, without a hole in the middle.
What is normal hemoglobin level?
Hemoglobin level is expressed as the amount of hemoglobin in grams (gm) to deciliter (dl) of whole blood. (1 deciliter = 0.1 liters)
Normal hemoglobin depend on the age and sex:
newborn children 17-22 gr / dL
babies one week of age - 15 to 20 gr / dL
babies one month of age- 11 -15 gr / dl
children -11-13 gr / dL
older men -14-18 gr / dL
older women - 12-16 gr / dL
men over middle age - from 12.4 to 14.9 gr / dL
women over middle age -from 11.7 to 13.8 gr / dL
In different blood laboratories these values may vary slightly. Some of them do not make difference between the values for adults (men / women) and (men / women) middle age.
What does a low level of hemoglobin mean?
The low level of hemoglobin is usually associated with anemia, or low red blood cells count.
Some of the main causes of anemia are:
What does high hemoglobin mean?
Higher hemoglobin levels usually occur in people, living at high altitude, and in smokers. Dehydration can produce false levels of hemoglobin, but when fluid balance is restored properly, it returns to normal levels.
Reasons for the high levels could be:
When we have poor quality of hemoglobin?
This happens when we have sickle cell anemia. This is a genetic condition, which may lead to unusual form of (sickled) red blood cells. These cells are difficult to pass through narrow blood vessels, which can deprive organs of oxygen. Sickled cells themselves, have a little life (10 to 20 days), and this can lead to premature replacement of red blood cells, causing anemia.
The symptoms of this form of anemia can vary depending on its severity. These may include:
How to improve hemoglobin levels during pregnancy?
Question: I am pregnant since twelve weeks and my hemoglobin was 8, how to increase it? What kind of food to include in my diet ?
The most common cause of anemia in pregnancy is the lack of iron and folic acid. Even if the woman is not anemic during pregnancy, she can develop it with the approaching birth. There are certain risk factors for mothers who are anemic:
Naturally the concentration of iron in the body, is regulated by the cells in the small intestine, which changes the absorption of iron, in order to compensate losses from the body. Iron deficiency is due to the reduced iron intake (from food), and the excessive loss of iron from the body.
Blood loss (hemorrhage) is the most common cause of excessive loss of iron from the body. Menstrual blood losses may vary considerably (10-250 ml), as the loss of iron with any normal menstruation is about 12-15 mg.
In some women it can reach up to 100 mg. Just these factors double iron. The quantity "absorbed" iron from body is only 10% of the total amount consumed. For example, only 1 mg of iron is absorbed, by every 10 to 20mg absorbed iron.
Normal diet should include 1.5 - 2 mg of iron per day, to compensate for the loss in menstruation period. During pregnancy, the mother needs extra amount of 500mg, baby and placenta also have a "need" from another 500 mg. In this situation, an additional 3 mg of iron per day must be obtained from diet.
The absorption of iron from the diet may be influenced by many factors.
For example, the iron coming from animal sources, is much more suitable for the absorption of the iron, coming from non-animal sources (e.g., vegetables).
Vegetarians need more iron, because when it is provided from plant products, its assimilation is more difficult, unlike animal products. Vegetarians have to obtain the necessary iron from plants, which contain it in larger doses:
The absorption of iron from animal sources (meat, fish) can be improved by consumption of fruits and vegetables at the same time.
The most inexpensive and effective therapy consists in the adoption of iron tablets. Treatment should lasts about three months to return to normal levels of hemoglobin.
Recommended products improving iron deficiency
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