How to Increase your Hemoglobin

One of the first things that patients with sickle cell want to know is how they can increase  their hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that binds and easily transfers oxygen all over the body. SC warriors have less red blood cells; which means we have less hemoglobin than other people. In addition, sickle cells carry less hemoglobin molecules than standard red blood cells. This impedes oxygen delivery to the tissues, which then leads to pain.

[stextbox id=”alert” color=”000000″ bcolor=”f91305″ bgcolor=”2317e8″]The one thing that the public thinks is good to increase your blood count is iron. However, due to the risk of iron overload, patients with sickle cell are NOT recommended to ingest daily iron pills to increase blood counts. This could lead to a fatal complication called IRON OVERLOAD.[/stextbox]

Okay, enough about the hemoglobin lesson. So what can you do at home to increase your red blood cells and hemoglobin count?

Dark Green Vegetables: These greens are rich in folate, which stimulates production of red blood cells and helps with healthy cell development. Examples of dark green veggies are kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, romaine lettuce and swiss chard. There are many recipes that incorporate these greens in the Nutrition section.

Liquid Chlorophyll: For those of you that don’t really like your veggies, you can try liquid chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is extracted from plants, and you are already getting it if you eat your veggies. The benefit is that it has a molecular structure similar to hemoglobin; except for the center atom. So it’s kinda almost like ingesting hemoglobin:) You could take this in addition, add it to your daily shake or take a teaspoon every day.

Almond Milk: Almonds help to raise hemoglobin, form new blood cells, and enables the liver, heart, brain and nerves to perform their respective functions normally. Instead of drinking cow milk (which is so not good for you anyway), switch your milk of choice to almond milk. If you must, add some dairy creamer to give you the kick that your taste buds miss.

Carao Fruit: This is a South American avocadan type fruit that helps to raise hemoglobin production. It works at the very beginning of cell development, on the DNA synthesis line. Another benefit is that carao is very low in iron. The vitamins from carao are more easily absorbed and converted than vegetable vitamins, and studies show that it raises hemoglobin in about 70% of users. Carao fruit is hard to get in the US, and is mostly available in syrup and juice form.

Vitamin B-12: Foods rich in B-12 are excellent for increasing hemoglobin. B-12 works with folate in cell production. It is normally only found in animal products, so if you’re vegetarian, you have to choose foods that have been fortified with B-12 or take a daily supplement.

The top 10 foods rich in B12 are shellfish, liver, caviar, octopus, fish, crab/lobster, beef, lamb, cheese and eggs. It is important to make sure that these choices are prepared in a healthy manner, and limit the fatty part of the meats to prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. In addition; red meat, eggs and liver are high in iron, so go sparingly with these.

There are many other foods and supplements listed as good for those with anemia or good to raise your counts. Please cross-reference to make sure that these do not contain iron as the principle nutrient. Although  some iron will give you an increase, the body does find it hard to excrete iron, and in addition to the blood transfusions we get (that also contain iron), it might be a recipe for a temporary fix and permanent damage.

If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to drop them in the comments box.

Be well.

Tosin Ola


  1. Mojo on September 25, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    This article was published on my birthday! (Random side note)

    I was sent this article by my mother-in-law. I have high fetal hemoglobin and rarely have a crisis more than once every 12-18 months. We are expecting our first child and unfortunately I have had two crises in the past 3 months. In addition to increasing my folate intake with a supplement (I’m sure you know the difference between folic acid and folate pills) I have recently begun taking chlorophyll. I was unaware that almond milk is good for hemoglobin — I just drink it because cow’s milk is gross! Haha!

    Fantastic article!

  2. Carine on September 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Hi, have you tried green smoothies. The sweet of the fruit balances the bitterness of the dark green vegetables like spinach or kale with bananas, apples and grapes. Also steaming them in butter makes them taste better.

  3. Kshaf on December 11, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Hello all. I’m 30!as of November 18 and is sickle cell thalassemia. I recently had twins b/g and survived with proper care of myself. In addition to eating veggies and eating healthy I incorporated freshly made smoothies with shots of whet grass in it: it’s a great blood builder…another regiment I added to my daily routine is coconut water. It’s high in natural electrolyte unlike Gatorade which is high in sodium, don’t get me wrong, I do drink it at times. As you all know, the crisis can suck big time but I rub the area with bengay and then apply heat packs with herbs in it. It sound a bit weird but it works wonders.
    For 2015 I haven’t had a crisis to the point where I was hospitalized or needed to take pain killers. I manage my “Mini crisis ” at home with rest and heat remedies. Good luck mojo on a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

  4. Cassou photography on December 15, 2015 at 12:08 am

    Most times, i mix lime water and raw egg a native fowl. Its a powerful blood builder

  5. Candy on October 3, 2016 at 3:02 am

    My son is six. He is often sick, he has low appetite despite all the drugs. And is very anemic. I don’t know what to do.

  6. Pastor D on October 10, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Praise the Lord. I got online to research the different types of smoothies that can be use to eliminate sickle. And found a friendship of information that can help me teach my students how to stay healthy with this disease by smoothing fruit and veggies high in Hemoglobins. Thank you all very much for all that you do in helping others. God bless you.

  7. alico on February 5, 2017 at 12:54 am

    please is raw egg good for my sickle cell child?so far God is taking care of him. my may worry is the yellow eyes please what do i use to get rid of it.

  8. Q on March 18, 2017 at 6:10 am

    Can I take vitamin b12.

  9. coco on March 23, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Hello,my daughter is now 3&1/2 years old.wanted to find out if all the above are taken at once and where to find them

  10. JMK on April 11, 2017 at 10:19 am

    I have a good friend, she’s a sickler, iys kinda hard for her but she rarely takes greens and she really struggles with her health.. She’s been feeling dizzy of late, and school is stressing her too much…

  11. Ben on August 20, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Am 37 and SCD about to go for surgery to remove my fibroid. Don’t want blood transfusion. Now i need to boost my hb to 14-15 in a month but am finding it difficult. Have never had crises or pain before i live a very normal life but am struggling with my hb am always at 11.5-10.8. Am also not a green girl PLEASE I NEED HELP.

  12. angoo on January 10, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    Wow. Great to dabble into this page and have learnt some things. May God bless and keep us all in Jesus name, amen.

  13. Ed & Eddy on March 4, 2018 at 9:24 am

    I have twin boys with SCD, they are a little over 2 years old and have had three blood transfusions. My challenge is getting them to eat healthy as they are picky eaters. Can they take liquid chlorophyll?

  14. mybroskeeper on March 13, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    My 65 year-old older brother has concerns regarding blood transfusions. He had them all his life but now wants to discontinue them due to his new faith. I am very concerned about dropping hemoglobin levels during crises. How can this be avoided or elevated with blood?

  15. Lilian on March 24, 2018 at 12:27 am

    I am 22 years old and my main struggle is joint pain. It is rather painful, what are some ways I deal with it?

  16. lady b on April 12, 2018 at 8:09 am

    I use ugu leaf to make a juice for my 12 years old sickle child. Does it build their blood level?

  17. Nonye on June 4, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Hi everyone, I’m Chinonye. I recently had crisis and was admitted at the hospital. I came across this article when I was looking for how to build my hemoglobin at home in order to avoid another blood transfusion. Reading everyone’s comments has been very motivating and helpful. Thank you so much.

  18. PK on August 23, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Hey everyone, I’m 23 and I have SC. I had a really bad crisis and then an infection. I was sick for 2 months during which I had 5 blood transfusions. Like most people, I focus on drinking water and eating healthy such as lots of salads (my favorite now is kale). I also drink ensure because I feel it helps. I eat lots of fruit everyday: banana, cherry, grape, carrot, blueberries. I also drink coconut water, almond milk, and Gatorade. I found out that I don’t like the fact that water has no taste so I mix mine with grape cranberry juice and of course, taking my routine drugs folic acid and hydroxyurea. Once I notice a slight pain in my body, I take my pain meds (hydrocodon) and I drink lots of water. I’m trying to do better and be more conscious of what I eat and my environment. I avoid sick people because of my immune system. Don’t always try to treat yourself over the counter, you should go to the hospital even if it’s for sore throat.

  19. PV on August 24, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Green Veggies: We all know green veggies are good for Hb and probably best for SCD, but I have wondered how to have it given its unpleasant taste? After years of struggle I was introduced to green smoothies by my nutritionist friend. You take small portions of all green veggies you can find like kale, spinach, fenugreek leaves, lettuce, swiss chard, coriander, celery, bok choy (remember to clean and wash well), add some almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, bit of cumin, and if you want, a lemon. Blend it in a Nutribullet along with water. It is an amazing way to maintain a good Hb count and tastes good as well. I do add avocado sometimes. If you have digestion issues, you can take apple cider vinegar 25-30 minutes before having a smoothie. My friend suggested I take one glass in the morning and avoid an unhealthy breakfast like bread and butter which was my routine for the last 15 years and 3 months. The smoothie is very filling and you don’t feel hungry.

    This is my personal experience and I will be happy to know your experiences and journey with what works and what doesn’t!
    Eat Healthy & Stay Healthy! God blesseth All and give us long lives we deserve!

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