Anemia is one of the most common blood disorders, affecting more than 3 million Americans and a third of the world's population. This medical condition is characterized by low levels of healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. The primary function of hemoglobin is to carry oxygen and supply it to different body parts. So, low hemoglobin levels mean that vital organs in your body may not be getting enough oxygen to function well.¹
But don't worry — you can manage anemia with little effort, depending on its severity. We've put together some natural remedies for anemia that can help boost your iron and energy levels.
We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Anemia, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.
There are a lot of drugs and supplements used for treating anemia. But some home remedies have been found to create positive results for anemia patients. You may manage anemia naturally by having a healthy diet, exercising, and even reducing stress.
Let's dive into the specific foods you need and why they are good for people with anemia.
Gut health is vital for the absorption of nutrients. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt contain good gut bacteria and can help improve digestion and gut function. People with anemia can enhance their low red blood cell (RBC) count and hemoglobin levels by consuming probiotic foods.
Rich in iron, nitrates, potassium, sodium, and betalain, beets help red blood cells carry oxygen while lowering blood pressure. You can cook beetroot, eat it raw in a salad, or drink it as a juice.
Along with being a source of iron, pomegranates facilitate the easy absorption of iron in the body. It's considered a relatively accessible and effective means to treat and manage anemia.
This is a byproduct of refining sugarcane. Blackstrap molasses is low in sugar but rich in vitamin B, iron, magnesium, and other essential minerals that help make red blood cells. Consuming this natural ingredient on a daily basis can enhance your hemoglobin levels and RBC count so you can recover from anemia.
The high amounts of chlorophyll in leafy greens, especially the dark ones, are a great source of iron and folic acid. This includes spinach, celery, broccoli, kale, and mustard greens.
Note that some of these leafy greens (spinach and kale) are high in oxalates, which can bind with iron and prevent its absorption. Eating these greens with foods that contain vitamin C can help increase iron absorption. Foods like collard greens and Swiss chard are good sources of both iron and vitamin C.
Red meat, lamb, poultry, and chicken all contain heme iron. Combining these foods with leafy greens and fruits rich in vitamin C will increase iron absorption. This is the best diet for combating iron deficiency anemia.
Organ meats are excellent sources of iron. So, start including liver, heart, kidney, or beef tongue in your diet to help fight anemia.
Some foods are fortified with iron, making them great options for vegetarians or those who struggle to eat other sources of iron. If you fall into this category, add the following foods to your diet:
Fortified orange juice
Fortified white rice
Fortified ready-to-eat cereals
Foods made from fortified cornmeal
Foods made from fortified refined flour, like white bread
Some seafood, including oysters, clams, scallops, crabs, and shrimp, are good sources of iron. Most fish also contain iron, although some, like canned sardines, contain calcium, which may bind with iron, thus reducing its absorption.
Bananas are rich in vitamin C, folate, and potassium, which the body needs to improve RBCs and hemoglobin levels. Eating green or ripe bananas will go a long way toward treating anemia.
These dried fruits contain vitamin C and iron, especially raisins. Add a handful of these fruits for anemia to your breakfast or as a midday snack to boost your immune system and promote iron absorption.
Sesame seeds contain iron, vitamins, and minerals for improving hemoglobin and iron absorption. This makes it among the most powerful home remedies for anemia. Some people are allergic to sesame seeds. In that case, you can use pumpkin, sunflower, or pistachio seeds to increase the iron level.
Vitamin C has been shown to promote the absorption of nonheme iron. So, make it a habit of consuming vitamin C to help RBCs and hemoglobin. Fruits like oranges, apples, berries, lemon, grapefruit, and kiwi contain vitamin C.
Other good sources of vitamin C include Brussels sprouts, potatoes, broccoli, mustard spinach, and kale.
Consuming a lot of empty calories can contribute to deficiencies in essential nutrients. Some of them even negatively impair iron absorption. With iron deficiency being the most prevalent cause of anemia, you can prevent it by avoiding processed and junk foods, such as:
Bran is high in insoluble fiber that traps and removes iron during digestion.
Conventional dairy contains calcium, which can bind with iron and lead to poor absorption.
Excessive coffee and black tea intake may block iron absorption, so reduce it to one cup or less daily.
Dark chocolate is rich in iron but contains tannins, which may interfere with iron absorption. So, keep intake in moderation.
Some studies have addressed the effects of some herbs on anemia. Even though more well-designed studies, especially in humans, are needed, the effects of the following herbs are promissory:
Roselle (of the genus Hibiscus)
There are numerous ways to incorporate these herbs into your diet. You can have them as a tonic or tea or use them to prepare sauces and salads.
On top of consuming a healthy diet, there are a couple more things you can do to manage anemia:
Exercise regularly: Exercise can help improve cardiovascular function. This increases total hemoglobin and red cell mass, thus improving oxygen-carrying capacity. But be careful not to overexert yourself. Talk with your doctor about the proper exercise for you.
Avoid smoking: Smoking depletes important nutrients, like vitamin C, which lowers the body’s ability to absorb iron, leading to a higher risk of anemia.
Reduce stress: Are you constantly stressed, worried, or anxious? These things can affect vital organs, such as your spleen and liver. Studies have shown that stress can cause low levels of vitamin B12, vitamin C, magnesium, folate, and others. And some of these nutrients are vital for iron absorption, thus affecting the number of RBCs at any given time. Make sure you're creating time to relax and have fun. This, along with quality sleep, will help recharge your system, relieve stress, and overcome anemia.²
Anemia is a common problem. Feeling tired and exhausted all the time is no fun. The good news is that, in many cases, you can treat this condition with the things you already have at home. The foods and herbs mentioned above will help boost your iron levels. And a complete lifestyle change is necessary to improve your overall health.
Depending on the cause of your anemia and the treatments you try, it may take several months for your hemoglobin levels and RBC to reach a healthy range. Nevertheless, be aware that these remedies will not adequately manage some anemia types, which might need oral iron supplementation or even intravenous iron infusions. Thus, speak with your doctor if you do not see any improvement or want more personalized treatment for your needs.
Iron-deficiency anemia | National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Iron | National Institute of Health
Diet and nutrition | Iron Disorders Institute