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What to Do If You Have High Nitrate Levels In Your Blood

Are you having high nitrate levels in your blood? High nitrate levels in the blood can create serious problems on your health, but many people are not aware of the risks.

Nitrate is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in many foods and in the environment.

While nitrate is generally safe in low concentrations, high levels of nitrate in the blood is not good for your health.

This article aims to talk about the causes, symptoms, risks, and treatment of high nitrate levels in the blood.

In this post, we’ll cover the following areas: 

  • How do nitrate levels in the blood increase?
  • Health risks linked to high nitrate levels
  • Symptoms of high nitrate levels
  • Testing for nitrate levels
  • Treatment of high nitrate levels
  • How to prevent high nitrate levels

So let’s begin with the first section of this blog post, how nitrate levels increases in the blood.

How do nitrate levels in the blood increases?

Nitrates are found in many foods and in the environment.

Fertilizers, drugs, processed food, and animal waste can all contribute to high levels of nitrate in drinking water, soil and in the body.

Once nitrates are ingested, they are converted to nitrites in the body.

Some factors, such as low stomach acid levels and the presence of bacteria in the mouth, can increase the conversion of nitrates to nitrites.

Health risks linked to high nitrate levels in the blood

High levels of nitrate in the blood, causes methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the blood is not able to carry oxygen efficiently.

Long-term exposure to high nitrate levels has also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, stomach and esophageal cancer.

Nitrates can also react with chemicals in the stomach to form compounds called nitrosamines, which are potent carcinogens.

High nitrate levels can contribute to the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can damage cells and tissues throughout the body.

Too much nitrate in water can be really bad for pregnant women and their babies. It increases the chance of birth defects and even cause miscarriages.

Pregnant women, infants, and young children are vulnerable to the effects of nitrate exposure.

Symptoms of High Nitrate Levels

High nitrate levels in your blood, is also known as hypernitratemia, it causes a condition called methemoglobinemia.

Symptoms of methemoglobinemia include:

  • Bluish-gray skin color (cyanosis)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Coma

One of the well-known symptoms is blue baby syndrome, a condition in which an infant’s skin turns blue due to the inability of the blood to carry oxygen.

Methemoglobinemia is most common in infants under 6 months of age, this is because their blood has lower levels of methemoglobin reductase.

Testing for Nitrate Levels

Nitrate and nitrite tests are used to determine whether a person has high levels of nitrate in the blood.

There are two main methods for testing nitrate levels in the blood:

  • Methemoglobin Test. This measures the level of methemoglobin in the blood. A high methemoglobin level indicates nitrate poisoning.
  • Nitrate Reductase Assay. This test measures the activity of the enzyme nitrate reductase, which converts nitrate to nitrite. Low levels of nitrate reductase can indicate an exposure to high levels of nitrate.

The normal range for nitrate in the blood is typically between 0.5 and 20 µmol/L in adults. Other tests may also be required to measure oxygen saturation to check for other health conditions.

Treatment

Treatment for high nitrate levels in the blood include nitrate-reducing diets, and medications to help the body metabolize nitrates more efficiently.

Examples of foods that may help reduce nitrates in your blood:

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Oranges

Medications that may help reduce the risk of high nitrate levels in your blood include ascorbic acid, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and coenzyme Q10.

However, if high nitrate levels are due to methemoglobinemia, specific drugs for treating this condition include:

  • Methylene blue: It is used to treat methemoglobinemia by converting methemoglobin back into hemoglobin.
  • Sodium thiosulfate: It binds to nitrates and converts them into harmless compounds that can be eliminated from the body.
  • Oxygen therapy: Your blood becomes deficient in oxygen when there’s high nitrate levels in your blood. Oxygen therapy will help convert methemoglobin back to oxygen-rich hemoglobin.

Prevention

Steps you can take to prevent high nitrate levels is by:

  • Avoiding nitrate-containing supplements and drugs;
    • Benzocaine
    • Prilocaine
    • Nitroglycerin
    • Sulfamethoxazole
  • Limiting the intakes of foods that contains nitrate, e.g;
    • Bok choy
    • Red meat
    • Beets
    • Bacon
    • Radishes
    • Sausage
  • Ensuring that drinking water is safe and free from contaminants.
  • Avoiding exposure to environmental sources of nitrates.

If you are eating foods containing nitrate, there’s a certain amount your body needs.

Here are the general recommended daily intake levels for nitrate:

  • Adult males: 3.7 milligrams of nitrate per kilogram of body weight
  • Adult females: 3.0 milligrams of nitrate per kilogram of body weight
  • Children: The American Academy of Pediatrics has not yet established a specific RDI for children but they suggest that children should consume a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.

Other ways to prevent high nitrate levels in your blood:

  • Test your drinking water for nitrate levels.
  • Do not give infants under 6 months of age water that contains nitrate.
  • Avoid smoking tobacco.

Additional things to keep in mind before we wrap up:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for nitrate in drinking water of 10 parts per million (ppm).
  • Infants under 6 months of age are more susceptible to the effects of high nitrate levels in the blood.
  • People with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency are also at increased risk of methemoglobinemia.

One more last thing, avoid taking drugs or any medication that could increase your risk of methemoglobinemia (high nitrate levels in your blood).

If your water tests above 10 parts per million (ppm) of nitrate, you should consider using a water filter or finding an alternative source of drinking water.

And infants under 6 months of age, they should be given purified water.

Conclusion: Are you having high nitrate levels in your blood?

 

Having too much nitrate in your blood is not good for your health. There are things you can do to reduce the risks.

By being aware of the problem, taking steps to prevent it, and getting treatment if necessary, you can help keep yourself healthy.

It is important for individuals to be aware of the sources of nitrates in their diet and environment, and to take steps to reduce their exposure.

If you start showing symptoms of high nitrate levels, see a doctor right away to get the best solution to this problem.

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