When you breathe through your lungs, you take in oxygen from the air to keep you alive. Oxygen is passed into your red blood cells (erythrocytes) so that it can be circulated through your body to your internal organs, tissues, muscles, and cells. Oxygen is important as it helps your cells make energy (ATP).
Unfortunately, many people suffer from low blood oxygen levels, which can cause damage to the cells in your heart, liver, and brain over time. But what causes low blood oxygen levels in the first place?
Lung Disease A chronic lung disease like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, COPD, or Pneumonia can cause it.
Smoking cigarettes can lock up your hemoglobin, lowering your blood’s oxygen storage capacity.
Cortisol High-stress hormone cortisol or anxiety levels cause you to hyperventilate in a panic attack and lose the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood.
Sleep Apnea & Snoring Also, Snoring and sleep apnea can reduce oxygen levels.
Sugar (pH 7.45 UP) Along with overeating sugar, the blood has more acid, reducing oxygen levels.
Low Vitamin E, B1, D, C, Iron, Zinc, and B12 / Anemia, along with a deficiency in specific nutrients, could cause anaemic or low antioxidant levels.
If left untreated, low oxygen levels in your blood can lead to hypoxia and major damage to your internal organs.
Table of Contents
Today we will be exploring 8 warning signs and symptoms that you have low oxygen levels in your blood.
This article is for educational purposes only, so speak to your doctor if you have any medical concerns.
8 Warning Signs Of Low Oxygen In Your Blood
1. Air Hunger (Dyspnea)
If there isn’t enough oxygen in your blood, your body will crave more air, often making you feel short of breath.
This can feel like a tightness in the chest, and you will frequently sigh through the day with small puffs of air as you breathe out.
This is caused by the blood becoming too acidic, which stops oxygen from moving freely through your body.
2. Dizziness & Weakness (Asthenia)
If you stand up or perform some light activity, such as walking and find that you are feeling dizzy or weak, you may have low oxygen levels in your blood.
You may feel off-balanced and notice your vision blacking out for a moment or two, especially around the periphery. Its means that oxygen isn’t reaching your muscles properly, causing weakness.
3. Muscle Cramps & Chest Pain (Angina)
Suppose you suffer from chest pain, muscle cramps, or angina. In that case, this can also indicate that you are low in blood O2 and need to consume more electrolyte minerals, Vitamin E, and B-vitamin-rich foods to help oxygenate your blood.
4. Fast Heart Beat (Tachycardia)
An average healthy person has a heart rate between 60-100 beats per minute. You can count these easily using two fingers on the inside of the wrist and counting.
If your heart rate is higher than this whilst you are resting, or perhaps you hear your heartbeat when lying down in bed, this could indicate you have low levels of oxygen in your blood, so your heart is working harder to pump additional blood through the body.
5. Brittle Nail/Ridges/Pale (Onychoschizia)
Look at your fingernails; if they are pink and smooth with some excellent vertical lines, this is a good sign that you are healthy.
However, suppose your nail is pale with a pinker strip of colour across the top. In that case, this could indicate anaemia, where there isn’t enough haemoglobin in your blood, so less oxygen is transported to your nail bed.
Likewise, if your nails are very brittle, break easily, or the vertical lines have become deep ridges, this is also a sign of anaemia and nerve damage to the nail bed caused by low oxygen levels.
6. Blue Tinge To Skin (Cyanosis)
Sometimes, you may develop a bluish colour or tinge on your skin or lips. This condition is called cyanosis and occurs when insufficient oxygen reaches the tissues.
This can develop very suddenly and is usually accompanied by shortness of breath. Please seek medical help immediately in this situation.
7. Heavy Legs
If you climb stairs or walk up a hill and notice you become out of breath quickly, you are likely lacking oxygen in your blood.
Your thighs and calves may feel heavy because insufficient oxygen reaches the muscles, or you have a weaker heart due to poor fitness. Vitamin C or E deficiencies usually cause this particular problem.
8. Confusion (Delirium)
If there isn’t enough oxygen reaching your brain, you will often feel confused, sluggish, tired and irritated. This is usually caused by a deficiency in Vitamin B1 (thiamine), which causes damage to the nerves and neurons in your brain, often triggered by overeating sugar or refined carbohydrates.
If you experience some of these symptoms, visit your doctor for a quick check-up. They will use an oximeter to check your blood oxygen levels.
Regular reading is around 95-100%, but if it’s below this, significantly below 92, then there is an underlying problem.
You can purchase your pulse oximeter at home, a simple little clip that goes over your finger and is relatively inexpensive.
Now let’s take a look at six simple lifestyle tips that you can use to boost your oxygen levels.
1. Eat foods rich in heme iron – this iron is bound to animal proteins in oily fish, shellfish, and high-quality grass-fed beef and liver. These foods also naturally contain Vitamin B12, which works with iron to increase your red blood cells so that more oxygen can be stored and carried through the blood.
2. Cut back on refined carbohydrates such as sugar and soda and refined grains like flour, bread, wheat, pasta, pancakes, biscuits etc. These deplete your antioxidants and can acidify your blood, causing low oxygen levels.
3. Eat foods naturally rich in Vitamin E to improve the heart’s function and boost oxygen levels, such as sunflower seeds, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, hazelnuts, Swiss chard and all the leafy green vegetables. You can also take a powerful supplemental form of Vitamin E called tocotrienols if you wish.
4. Take long walks, at a slow pace, in areas with lots of trees and plant life. Aim for at least 30 minutes per day. Gentle exercise, fresh air, and essential oils released from trees help to boost circulation and oxygenate your blood.
5. Eat low glycaemic berries daily that are high in antioxidants and resveratrol to boost oxygen, such as blueberries, strawberries, gooseberries and acai berries. It would help if you also aimed to drink at least 1 litre of mineral water each day to hydrate your body and thin your blood to help exchange oxygen around your body. I recommend mashing three tablespoons of berries in the morning, adding 1/4 teaspoon of Celtic/Himalayan salt and 16oz carbonated mineral water to make a delicious and healthy drink to improve your blood oxygen and boost your electrolytes.
6. Lastly, you can perform abdo-diaphragmatic breathing. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Practise breathing very deeply and slowly to a count of 4, breathing into your belly, keeping your chest still and then breathing out slowly to a count of 6. This helps to improve air distribution into your lungs and calms down the stress hormone cortisol to trigger peace and relaxation.
Try out these techniques and see which works best for you. Some people need to take more vital vitamins to improve their oxygen levels.