Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) measures the amount of hemoglobin in your red blood cells. It can be used to help diagnose blood and iron disorders. Keep reading to learn more about the causes and health effects of low and high MCH.
What is Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin (MCH)?
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) is the average amount of hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the protein that stores (binds) oxygen, which is what allows your blood to transport oxygen throughout your body. MCH is normally part of a complete blood count, which measures your hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cell count. Medical professionals can use MCH to help diagnose anemias and iron disorders [1, 2].
Normal Range of MCH
MCH usually ranges from 27 – 31 pg per cell .
A low mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) means that your red blood cells are smaller than normal (microcytic) .
Causes of Low MCH
Causes shown here are commonly associated with low MCH. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause.
1) Iron Deficiency
In a study of 830 subjects, 679 (82%) of the iron deficiency patients also had low MCH .
Factors that Increase MCH
Work with your doctor to determine and treat the cause of low MCH. Attempting to raise MCH artificially may not address underlying health conditions and ultimately do more harm than good. If you have low MCH, your doctor may order additional tests and/or use this result to help make a diagnosis and determine an appropriate course of action, which may or may not include the strategies below.
A high mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) means that red blood cells may be larger than normal (macrocytic) .
By itself, macrocytosis does not seem to cause any symptoms. However, a diagnosis of macrocytosis can help provide information about any underlying health conditions that require treatment .
Causes of High MCH
Causes shown here are commonly associated with high MCH. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause.
1) Megaloblastic Anemia
One of the most common causes of high MCH is megaloblastic anemia. Megaloblastic anemia is often caused by folate or vitamin B12 deficiency and may be treated with supplements of the deficient nutrient [1, 16].
4) Malaria Infection
Malaria patients have higher MCH levels than non-infected people .
Factors that Lower MCH
Work with your doctor to determine and treat the cause of high MCH. Attempting to lower MCH artificially may not address underlying health conditions and ultimately do more harm than good. If you have high MCH, your doctor may order additional tests and/or use this result to help make a diagnosis and determine an appropriate course of action, which may or may not include the strategies below.
Patients with megaloblastic anemia are often advised to increase their consumption of foods rich in vitamin B12 and folate (vitamin B9). Folate is abundant in leafy green vegetables, while vitamin B12 is easiest to source from meat products including chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, and pork liver, and dairy products such as yogurt and milk [22, 23].
Nicotine has also been linked to lower B12 levels, which in turn are linked to megaloblastic anemia. Smoking is generally very bad for your health, and it may contribute to or aggravate low MCH as well [25, 17].
If you are deficient in vitamin B12 or folate, taking supplements can increase your vitamin levels. Doctors often recommend these supplements to patients with megaloblastic anemia; talk to yours before supplementing [26, 27].
Irregular MCH Levels?
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