Diet and Anemia

Diet and Anemia

What is Anemia

Anemia happens when the hemoglobin level (molecules transporting oxygen in the blood) falls below a certain level. In other words, anemia occurs when the number of red blood cells drops to below normal levels, causing a drop in oxygen supply to tissues around the body. Anemia can occur as a result of diet.

The main causes of anemia for women are blood loss during menstruation as well as nutritional deficiency of iron, vitamin B12 and folate. Key symptoms are fatigue and feeling tired.

Anemia and Diet

Should you be anemic, below is some advice as to how to reduce symptoms through your diet:

  • Increase your iron intake by eating foods like offal (e.g. liver), red meat, fish, chicken as well as green leafy vegetables like spinach. Do not eat offal whilst pregnant as it may cause a vitamin A overload.
  • Iron from animal sources can be absorbed more easily than iron from plant sources.
  • Vitamin C increases iron uptake, therefore, add foods with vitamin C (like tomato salad and orange juice) to make your meals more iron-rich and try and have citrus fruit for dessert.
  • Lack of vitamin B12 can cause anemia. Hence, in addition to adding iron to your diet plan increase your intake of foods which contain vitamin B12, like, pork, cheese, eggs and milk. Vegetarians ought to eat lots of yeast extract or B12-strengthened foods like cereals.
  • Increase folate intake by adding the following foods to your diet: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereal, melon, avocados and egg yolks.

Reduce Your Intake of Foods Which Deplete Iron Levels

Certain symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia can be aggravated by certain foods. Therefore, it is advisable to reduce your consumption of such foods as they deplete your iron reserves. Such foods include: tea, coffee, bran cereals and bran.

Dandelion leaves and stinging nettles are high in iron and make tasty teas.

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