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A healthy diet is a prerequisite to staying fit and fine. With an increase in awareness, people are becoming more and more health conscious. They are eyeing to include healthy food options in their regular diet to boost their immunity. One of the most important healthy food components is iron. Iron is an essential component that helps in the formation of haemoglobin in our bodies. Haemoglobin is a protein mainly present in our red blood corpuscles (RBCs) which carries oxygen to different parts of the body. They also act as mechanical and biochemical barriers against infections, bacteria, and blood parasites. Thus, it is necessary to maintain haemoglobin levels in the body to fight blood-related diseases.
The deficiency of haemoglobin causes problems such as blood cell destruction, low red blood cell production, and blood loss anaemia. Hence, we need to include food options in our diet which are rich in Folic Acids, Iron, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin C. Here are a few superfoods that will boost our haemoglobin level soon.
Iron is a crucial nutrient for our body. It helps in increasing the production of haemoglobin which further boosts the products of RBCs. People who suffer from haemoglobin deficiency can benefit from consuming iron-rich foods. Foods such as meat, fish, eggs, soy products, dried fruits, spinach, and nuts are rich sources of iron. Men above the age of 19 should consume 8 milligrams of iron daily whereas females aged between 19-50 years should intake 18 milligrams of iron in a day, as per Australian Recommended Dietary Intake.
Other than that, avoid eating foods containing phytates (cereals and grains), calcium (milk and dairy) and polyphenols (tea and coffee) alongside iron-rich foods. This can hinder iron absorption.
Consuming iron-rich foods is very important for increasing haemoglobin levels but we must assure that the iron is being absorbed by our body properly. Consumption of Vitamin C can help our body to absorb the consumed iron easily. It is advised to include foods that are rich sources of Vitamin C while intaking iron-rich foods. Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and strawberries are rich sources of Vitamin C. They can enhance iron absorption in our bodies. Vitamin A is also helpful in this case, but overconsumption may cause hypervitaminosis.
Folate (folic acid) is also known as Vitamin B9, a water-soluble vitamin that plays many important functions in our body. A healthy adult person should consume 400 mcg of folate per day to avoid a deficiency. Folate deficiency may inhibit the growth of RBCs which could lead to the reduction of haemoglobin levels. Folate helps in the production of heme which is a component of haemoglobin. Some good sources of folate-rich foods are rice, beef, peanuts, kidney beans, avocados, and lettuce.
The deficiency of Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) sources may cause pernicious anaemia. Vitamin B12 is unique amongst vitamins in that it is available mostly through foods of animal origin. Meat, liver, eggs, shrimp and dairy products are all good sources. Vegetarians are therefore advised to increase their milk intake, whilst vegans could opt for supplemental B12 in the form of tablets/capsules to avoid clinical deficiency.
Apart from the above food options, people can also choose iron and folate supplements. These supplements are easily available at any chemist's store. Overcooking food reduces its nutritional benefits, so we should refrain from slow-cooking food for long hours. Adding the above-mentioned food options to our diet will provide us with additional benefits too. These foods are also packed with other vitamins, potassium, and fibre which will benefit our health. Also, cooking a meal in a cast-iron skillet helps in boosting the iron content of the food.
The article is authored by Dhwani Mistry, a Food Scientist & Nutrition Head at CORA Health- a Health and Wellness Platform.