Hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells, helps transport oxygen throughout the body. It’s made up of iron, a protein molecule, and a protein called hemoglobin. A healthy hemoglobin level ensures your body gets enough oxygen.

When your body lacks enough red blood cells, it can negatively affect your appetite, mental clarity, energy, and concentration. Eating enough iron-rich foods is important, but many people worry about consuming too much iron, which can cause issues. Read on to learn everything you need to know about improving hemoglobin naturally, including home remedies and foods.

How to increase hemoglobin

Before you increase your hemoglobin, remember that your love of leafy greens, whole grains and beans, fish, poultry, nuts and seeds, and lean meats will help you to increase your hemoglobin. If you don’t eat meat, do not despair; vegetarians who eat a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have a good hemoglobin level.

Increasing iron intake

Eating iron-rich foods benefits persons with low levels of hemoglobin. Iron works to boost the production of hemoglobin, which also helps to form more red blood cells.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the U.S., affecting up to 50 percent of Americans. It is important for making hemoglobin and red blood cells, which provide oxygen to all parts of your body. Without enough iron, your body can’t produce enough red blood cells, which can result in fatigue, constipation, and pale skin. (Iron builds up within your liver and kidneys, so having low iron levels there does not necessarily indicate an iron deficiency.) You can improve your iron levels by eating iron-rich foods like lean red meats, poultry, vegetables, and fortified grain products.

Increasing folate intake

Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent congenital disabilities, but it isn’t just helpful during pregnancy. Women who eat foods high in folate, such as spinach, may have an easier time getting pregnant and conceiving. And women who drink alcohol regularly are more likely to give birth to a baby with a congenital disability. Fortunately, there are foods you can eat to increase your folate intake.

Folate, sometimes called vitamin B9, is a B vitamin that helps your body make new cells. It also helps your body process protein (which is important for building muscles) and carbohydrates, which also help your body make new cells. Since folate also helps your body form new cells, it can help with brain development in babies and pregnant women. Folate also helps your body process vitamin B6, which is important for making proteins.

Maximizing iron absorption

Iron is an essential mineral that is associated with key body processes. It primarily provides oxygen to your red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to your tissues and organs. Deficiency in iron can lead to anemia—a condition in which you don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to all of your body’s cells. Lack of oxygen in some of your body’s cells can lead to fatigue, pale skin, headaches, slow healing, and shortness of breath.

Iron deficiency is so common that women can suffer from anemia without knowing it, and if this is your situation, you may be well aware of the symptoms—fatigue, weakness, dizziness, pale skin, headache, and maybe even heart palpitations. Iron deficiency is so common that 30% of women between the ages of 18 and 50 are anemic, and 20% of pregnant women are anemic. Fortunately, iron deficiency is easily preventable and treatable. But to increase your iron absorption, certain foods, drinks, and supplements can help.

Taking iron supplements

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the United States, but how do you know when you’re deficient? The symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, pale skin, shortness of breath, and weakness. Women are generally at a higher risk for iron deficiency than men, and pregnant women have a greater requirement for iron. Other groups of people at higher risk include people with chronic medical conditions, vegetarians, and older people.

Iron supplements have been selling well lately. In fact, the latest government data showed that iron supplements are the top-selling dietary supplement, at $653 million in sales. But before you run out and buy an iron supplement, you should know a few things. For starters, supplements are not regulated by the FDA, unlike drugs. So, the supplements you buy might not actually contain the amount of iron listed on the bottle. And, as with other drugs, iron supplements can interact with other substances, causing side effects.

Hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen to our tissues and organs. This blood component consists of 2 types: Hemoglobin A, which binds with carbon dioxide and transports oxygen, and hemoglobin B, which binds with oxygen. The hemoglobin A level is affected by body weight, the number of red blood cells, and red blood cell production.