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Hematocrit 101: How to Get Your Levels Up

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Hematocrit is a measure of the proportion of red blood cells in your blood. It is an important indicator of overall health and can affect your energy levels, oxygen delivery, and ability to recover from physical activity. If you are tired or weak, you may be suffering from hematocrit deficiency. 

Anemia is a condition in which there is a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood. One of the ways anemia is diagnosed is by measuring hematocrit levels. If the hematocrit level is low, it may indicate anemia. 

Anemia may put you at risk for a variety of issues, so if you’re having symptoms, consult a doctor or healthcare expert right away. If you are diagnosed with anemia, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan to help you restore your RBC levels as quickly as possible. 

A low hematocrit level is often associated with anemia because it indicates a deficiency of red blood cells. In this article, we will explore the factors that can affect hematocrit levels and provide tips on how to get your levels up.

What Is a Healthy Hematocrit Level? 

Normal hematocrit levels vary depending on age and race. Men’s normal levels in adulthood vary from 41% to 50%. The usual range for women is significantly lower: 36%-44%. Anemia is defined as a hematocrit level below the normal range, indicating that the individual has too few red blood cells. A hematocrit result that is higher than normal, indicating an excess of red blood cells, may suggest polycythemia or erythrocytosis. 

How to raise hematocrit levels?

There are several ways to raise hematocrit levels, depending on the underlying cause of the low hematocrit. One common approach is to treat the underlying cause of the anemia, such as iron deficiency or chronic disease. For example, if anemia is caused by iron deficiency, a person may need to take iron supplements or eat iron-rich foods. If anemia is caused by chronic disease, treating the underlying disease may help to raise hematocrit levels. 

Additionally, increasing the intake of Vitamin B12, folic acid, Vitamin C and Vitamin E can also be beneficial to raise hematocrit levels. 

Another way to raise hematocrit levels is through blood transfusions, which can quickly increase the number of red blood cells in the bloodstream. However, this should only be done under the supervision of a doctor.

It’s important to note that raising hematocrit levels may not be necessary or appropriate for everyone, and it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any treatment.

Include iron-rich foods in your diet 

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Here are some examples of iron-rich foods to include in your diet:

  • Red meat, poultry, and fish are good sources of heme iron, which is easily absorbed by the body.
  • Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are also high in iron.
  • Beans, such as kidney beans and lentils, are also good sources of non-heme iron.
  • Tofu, tempeh and other soy based products are also high in iron.
  • Nuts and seeds are also good sources of iron.
  • Fortified cereals and breads can also be a good source of iron.

It’s important to note that the absorption of non-heme iron (found in plant-based foods) can be enhanced by consuming it with a source of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, papaya, bell peppers, and broccoli.

It’s also worth mentioning that drinking alcohol, coffee, and tea close to meal time can inhibit the absorption of iron.

Supplements for hematocrit

If your diet isn’t providing you with enough critical nutrients, see your doctor about taking supplements. Certain substances may aid in the formation of RBCs or support associated processes in your body. 

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, prescription iron and vitamin B12 supplements may be used to treat certain kinds of anemia. Based on your unique condition, a doctor will discuss this with you. 

Some supplements may interfere with the prescriptions you are taking, so consult your doctor before adding any to your routine. It’s also crucial to understand that your recommended nutritional allotment may alter during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Changes in lifestyle 

Other adjustments in your lifestyle may also help your RBC levels. People who use alcohol should consider reducing or discontinuing their consumption. Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of anemia. 

Exercise on a regular basis may also be useful. A previous study suggests that exercise may boost RBCs, but there is little information to tell if this technique is safe and effective.

It’s important to note that these lifestyle changes should be made under the guidance of a healthcare professional and in conjunction with any treatment they may prescribe.

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