Can Vitamins Increase Blood Oxygen Levels?
By Louise Tremblay
, last updated March 19, 2012
Each cell in your body relies on a constant supply of oxygen. Your cells utilize oxygen to drive your metabolism; the use of oxygen helps them access the fuel required to carry out cellular and tissue functioning. A number of nutrients, including several vitamins, contribute to your blood's ability to transport oxygen, and consuming these vitamins might increase your blood oxygen levels.
One vitamin that might help increase blood oxygen levels is vitamin B-12, or cobalamin. The body relies on cobalamin to produce hemoglobin, required for the transport of oxygen through the bloodstream. Low levels of vitamin B-12 lead to pernicious anemia, a condition characterized by low blood oxygen levels and a reduction in oxygen flow to tissues. As a result, individuals suffering from pernicious anemia may feel tired and may experience headaches due to reduced oxygen flow to the brain. If you have low cobalamin levels, taking vitamin B-12 can increase the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream.
Vitamin B-9, also called folic acid or folate, also contributes to blood oxygen levels. Folic acid aids in the production of new erythrocytes, or red blood cells. Since these cells act as carriers for oxygen in the blood, consuming enough folic acid is important to maintaining the levels of oxygen in the bloodstream. In addition, folic acid helps your body use iron, a principal component of hemoglobin. Deficiencies in folic acid can reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood, causing anemia, whereas consuming folic acid can help maintain healthy blood oxygen levels.
Consuming pyridoxine, or vitamin B-6, might also help to increase your blood oxygen content. Pyridoxine contributes to the production of heme, the iron-containing molecule on hemoglobin. Heme proves important to maintaining your blood's oxygen content, since it represents the portion of hemoglobin that directly binds to oxygen in your lungs. If you suffer from vitamin B-6 deficiency, which occurs due to conditions like chronic malnutrition or alcoholism, consuming the vitamin might increase your blood's oxygen content.
Minerals and Blood Oxygen Level
Minerals from the diet can also affect the amount of oxygen in the blood. Consuming enough iron helps your body produce functional heme and hemoglobin, whereas iron deficiency can lead to low blood oxygen levels and iron-deficiency anemia. In addition, minerals like selenium can help to maintain healthy red blood cells and thus prevent low blood oxygen levels that can occur due to low functional red blood cell counts.