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How can a person increase his or her hemoglobin level?
There are a number of ways to increase hemoglobin levels. In general, low hemoglobin levels that need to be increased are caused by three circumstances: decreased red blood cell production (for example, altered bone marrow hemoglobin production, iron deficiency), increased red blood cell destruction (for example, liver disease), and by blood loss (for example, trauma from a gunshot or knife wound). Addressing these underlying causes of low hemoglobin levels initially determines what method to use to increase hemoglobin levels.
Methods to increase hemoglobin levels are varied and their use depends on the underlying problems. Some of the ways to increase hemoglobin include:
- transfusing red blood cells
- receiving erythropoietin (a hormone used to stimulate red blood cell production in individuals with decreased red blood cell production or increased red cell destruction)
- taking iron supplements
- increasing the intake of iron-rich foods (eggs, spinach, artichokes, beans, lean meats, and seafood) and foods rich in cofactors (such as vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin C) important for maintaining normal hemoglobin levels. Such foods include fish, vegetables, nuts, cereals, peas, and citrus fruits.
Individuals should not take iron supplements or other treatments for low hemoglobin levels without first discussing such treatments with their physician as side effects from these treatments and/or excess iron intake may cause additional problems. Also, iron supplements should be kept away from children as iron poisoning in young children can be fatal.
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