Taking a breath seems to be so automatic. Most people forget that breathing in oxygen gives them about 90% of the energy required by the body. You’ll find oxygen naturally in the atmosphere. Oxygen is crucial for your body’s respiratory and the blood circulatory system.
Is Oxygen Important? Here’s What You Need to Know
In a word, your body depends on oxygen as the most crucial nutrient for the cells. Through breathing, the lungs get oxygen to allow for gaseous exchange in the body. Specifically, oxygen gas attaches itself to red blood cells (hemoglobin). Then, carried to all body cells as the blood circulates. Here is a summary of the importance of oxygen in the body.
- Oxygen turns food into energy. During the respiration process, the body uses oxygen to turn food into usable fuel energy during metabolism. Without oxygen, the mitochondria in your body cell won’t convert food glucose into ATP that sustains your life.
- Oxygen supports your brain. The brain consumes about 20% of your body’s oxygen intake for its energy (1.5 calories per minute) to remain active. So, your brain will get damaged if you miss oxygen for five minutes.
- Oxygen boosts your immunity. Oxygen fuels your cells to fight against bacterial and viral infections. Ensure you inhale clean oxygen for enhanced immunity.
- Oxygen supports the treatment of many health conditions. Some people with health conditions like COVID-19, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, and lung diseases experience low oxygen levels. In such cases, physicians use supplemental oxygen to help manage most of these conditions.
Typical Levels of Blood Oxygen
The ideal blood oxygen level is 95% to 99% if you are healthy. Should it be below or beyond this range, then you may experience health problems. For instance, you may experience chest pains, headaches, confusion, shortness of breath, and increased heartbeat. In such cases, the doctor may measure your arterial blood gas (ABG) or the oxygen saturation level (SpO2) using an oximeter.
But it’s easier to measure oxygen levels using the oximeter than taking the ABG blood oxygen test. If your oxygen level is within the typical range, it shows your lungs, heart, and respiratory system are healthy. And almost all red blood cells are transporting oxygen to all cells and body tissues.
What is the Normal Oxygen Level for Adults?
Your ABG is normal if it is between 75 -100 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). And you’re in the red if it is below 60 and over 110 mmHg. The Arterial Blood Gas level shows the amount of oxygen present in your red blood cells at any time. Therefore, some doctors prefer to measure the blood oxygen level using an oximeter instead.
The normal oxygen level for adults is from 95 to 100%. And the test takes only about a minute using the simple oximeter. If it’s below 90%, the condition is called hypoxemia, which is a medical concern. With hypoxemia, your body tissues and organs (like the heart, liver, and lungs) won’t function normally. This is due to the reduced energy levels as little oxygen reaches them.
What is the Normal Oxygen Saturation?
The normal oxygen saturation level is 97–100%. But, the oxygen level varies with age. In the end, an average of 95% is normal, especially for those over 70 years. The two ways to measure oxygen saturation level include the blood gas (PaO2) and the pulse oximeter (Spo2). The oxygen levels may be lower at high altitudes (88%).
SPO2 is the oxygen saturation in the blood under consideration. To measure this peripheral capillary oxygen saturation, you use a pulse oximeter. In essence, most doctors consider normal oxygen saturation levels to be between 94% to 99%. On the other hand, doctors say a PaO2 reading below 80 mmHg is low.
How to Increase Blood Oxygen Level?
Oxygen molecules attach themselves to the red blood cells. So, the blood transports oxygen attached to the red blood cells to all your body cells.
Each time you inhale oxygen into your lungs, red blood cells get oxygen, which circulates to all your body organs and tissues. Your body gets energy, the immunity gets a boost, and worn-out cells get replaced. Thus, you need to maintain optimum oxygen levels to remain healthy and energized. Here are a few ways to show you how to increase blood oxygen levels in your body.
1. Get an open space or open windows for fresh oxygen
You may open windows and doors or move to open spaces. More fresh air has more oxygen that benefits your body. This way, you’ll attain the normal oxygen level for adults.
Again, you can take a walk to increase the rate of oxygen intake you get into the body and your lungs. Essentially, walking increases the rate of breathing. And, you get in more oxygen into the body due to the many bursts of breath.
2. Engage in constant Exercise
When you exercise, you increase the rate of breathing. The many breaths induced by body workouts result in more blood oxygen as it also hastens the rate of breathing in and out.
Still, taking sprints in intervals and strenuous resistance training greatly help increase the oxygen levels. Several studies show a correlation between exercise performance and the increased oxygen intake levels.
3. Train to take purposeful breaths
At times, training on how to increase blood oxygen levels through body exercises may not give the needed oxygen level. Evidence shows that training how to breathe is crucial too.
Train to take slow, short, and deep breaths to increase the oxygen level. This way, your lungs get adequate oxygen. Plus, the alveoli get a lot of oxygen from deep breaths.
Some breathing and pulmonary health experts recommend pursed-lip breathing to increase oxygen levels. You take a deep breath and breathe out through your pursed lips.
You may alternate with belly plus respiratory breathing to further open your airways. This process allows oxygen to get into the lungs, and the tissues will have access to oxygen.
4. Use a Breathing Device
Sometimes, it’s essential to know what is normal oxygen saturation, so that if you fail to achieve it, you may use breathing devices to help you control your pace of breathing.
Breathing devices ensure the normal oxygen level for adults. One such aid is the Airofit breathing device, which helps you track and improve your strength. Tracking oxygen levels may help you build healthy lungs and muscles as oxygen circulates regularly.
5. Drink adequate amounts of water
Water contains oxygen. Our body and lungs require to remain well hydrated by taking enough water. Therefore, drinking adequate water increases oxygen levels and helps the lungs expel carbon dioxide from the body as you exhale.
6. Take diets enriched with iron
Healthy red blood cells require iron to transport oxygen-rich blood around the body. Inadequate iron in the body makes you feel exhausted. Eating foods containing iron increases oxygen levels and improves your health. Foods that contain iron include poultry, fish, eggs, green vegetables, lean protein, and legumes.
7. Try oxygen therapy
Though you may know how to increase blood oxygen levels, sometimes, you need supplementary oxygen in a health facility or home due to health complications.
Extra oxygen therapy is a way on how to increase blood oxygen levels. Extra oxygen helps to avoid severe damage to body cells and organs. This therapy helps treat many health conditions, decreases shortness of breath, increases your life span, and improves your quality of life.
There’s no life without oxygen. It’s uncommon for people to monitor their blood oxygen levels. Yet suddenly, you see the need to monitor the level when you experience health problems that interfere with normal oxygen levels for adults.
In that case, your doctor checks the oxygen level using any of the two methods – PaO2 or SpO2. Readings below 80 mmHg (PaO2), or below 90%, is a health concern and may demand oxygen therapy to maintain a healthy blood oxygen saturation level.
Be safe and cautious. Most importantly, learn the ways on how to increase blood oxygen levels.