Why is hemoglobin important? What can be done to improve it?

Low levels of hemoglobin are most commonly caused by nutritional deficiencies. There are many ways on how to increase hemoglobin, including eating the right food sources, avoiding foods that reduce iron content in the blood, taking proper supplementation and blood transfusion.
People who find out from blood tests that they have low hemoglobin levels often want to find out how to increase hemoglobin. Hemoglobin, abbreviated Hb or Hgb, is produced in developing red blood cells in the bone marrow. It is responsible for giving blood its red color. Its function is the transport of oxygen from the lungs to be released to the different tissues of the body and, in exchange, collects carbon dioxide to be transported back to the lungs.

The normal levels of hemoglobin in the body range from 14 – 18 g/dL in males and 12 – 16g/dL in females. A deficiency of hemoglobin would decrease the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. This also decreases the number of red blood cells resulting in a condition called anemia. Causes of low levels of hemoglobin levels include poor nutrition, certain diseases affecting the bone marrow, chronic diseases like cancer and kidney disease, blood loss, certain drugs and cancer therapy. Low levels of hemoglobin contribute to a variety of symptoms such as dizziness, lethargy, pale skin, and if severe, result in organ damage.

Ways to Increase Hemoglobin Levels
Food and Medicine
There are medicines and natural ways to increase hemoglobin and therefore prevent anemia.

Vitamin and mineral supplementation. There are several minerals and vitamins that can increase hemoglobin levels. Most important of these are iron, vitamins B6, B9 (folic acid), and B12, and vitamin C, which is important for enhancing the absorption of iron. The recommended daily allowances are:

Iron: 20 mg
Vitamin B6: 50 mg
Folic Acid: 500 micrograms
Vitamin B12: 1500 micrograms
Vitamin C: 1000 mg

Foods that are rich sources of iron, vitamins B6, B9, and B12

Iron: whole-egg, iron-fortified cereal; leafy-green vegetables (like artichoke and spinach), legumes (like beans and lentils), meat (like lean beef and liver), and seafood like (clams and oysters)
Vitamin B6: meat (like chicken, beef, turkey, and pork), fish (like salmon, cod, halibut, tuna, trout, and snapper), vegetables (like spinach, bell peppers, baked potatoes, yams, broccoli, green peas, turnip greens, and asparagus), nuts and seeds (like peanuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, and hazelnut), whole-wheat bread, cereals, bran; and chickpeas, lentils and soybeans
Folic acid: dried beans, peas, leafy green vegetables (like spinach and turnip greens), and fruits (ex. citrus fruits)
Vitamin B12: Beef liver and clams, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products
Vitamin C: Citrus fruits (like grapefruit and oranges) and their juices, red and green pepper and kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, baked potatoes, and tomatoes
Herbs. Certain herbs contain iron or increase its absorption thereby increasing hemoglobin levels.

Withania: used in Ayurvedic Medicine in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia; its use has been supported by studies showing increased hemoglobin levels in children.
Nettle Leaf: used traditionally in the treatment of arthritis, a rich source of iron
Dong Quai or Angelica: traditionally used for menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, anemia, and constipation. Studies on rats fed on low iron diet showed restoration to near normal levels of hemoglobin, hematocrit and red blood cell counts with Dong Quai
Chitosan is a dietary fiber from shellfish. A study showed that patients with kidney failure given chitosan were shown to reduce high cholesterol, improve anemia, and improve physical strength, appetite, and sleep.

Foods to Avoid
Foods that are rich in calcium like milk and cheese and high fiber foods as well as beverages like coffee, tea, and alcohol should be avoided or taken in small quantities because these prevent absorption of iron. Gluten-containing foods like pasta, bread, and wheat products also cause anemia.

Source: MD-health

New affordable way to stabilize haemoglobin discovered

A research team has found a way to stabilize hemoglobin, the oxygen carrier protein in the blood, a discovery that could lead to the development of stable vaccines and affordable artificial blood substitutes.

The new approach by UConn research team involves wrapping the polymer poly (acrylic acid) around hemoglobin, protecting it from the intense heat used in sterilization and allowing it to maintain its biological function and structural integrity.

In addition to having potential applications in the stabilization of vaccines and development of inexpensive artificial blood, the stabilizing polymer also allows vaccines and other biomedical products to be stored for longer periods without refrigeration. It could also have applications in biomaterials, biosensors, and biofuels.

‘Protein stability is a major issue in biotechnology,’ says Challa V. Kumar, UConn professor of chemistry and biochemistry and the primary investigator on the project. ‘What we’ve done is taken this protein molecule and wrapped it up in a polymer chain in order to stabilize it. In thermodynamics terms, we have restricted the entropy of the denatured state of the protein and stabilized it beyond our expectations.’

‘The system also exhibits a high degree of reversibility. The protein can be denatured and renatured many, many times. This is the very first example of its kind in the literature of all protein science. No one has ever been able to achieve this kind of stability for proteins.’

As part of its research, the team chose to examine the feasibility of using hemoglobin as an artificial blood substitute. Hemoglobin, when extracted from blood, breaks down and is toxic in its pure form.

Since hemoglobin is the critical oxygen carrier protein in blood, Kumar and his team are looking at ways of stabilizing hemoglobin in its natural form so that it retains its activity and stays harmless when administered as a transfusion agent. This could lead to a new substitute for human blood, which is frequently in short supply. Blood shortages are expected to get worse in coming years, as more and more people in the world are likely to need blood transfusions, Kumar said

Source: Health India