Anaemia is a condition where the level of haemoglobin in the blood is below the normal range. Haemoglobin is the iron-containing molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body so, in anaemia, less oxygen can be carried and delivered to the tissues. Levels of haemoglobin may be low because the number of red blood cells is low, or because each red blood cell has an abnormally low amount of haemoglobin within it. Iron is an important dietary mineral that is involved in various bodily functions, including the transport of oxygen in the blood essential in providing energy for daily life. Iron is also vital for brain development. Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia can include:
Loss of appetite
Becoming irritated easily
Cracked or reddened tongue
Strange food cravings
Causes of anaemia: Lack of nutrition and a balanced diet are one of the key reasons that result in anaemia. Some of the most common causes that contribute to an anaemic condition:
Low formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow, either due to defects in the bone marrow itself or to an inadequate intake of iron, vitamins and protein, is one of the main causes of anaemia.
Intestinal parasites or worms are yet another cause of anaemia. Hookworms, pinworms, roundworms and tapeworms feed on the supply of blood as well as the vitamins.
Dietary lack of iron is the most common cause of anaemia because the body needs iron to make haemoglobin.
Lack of vitamin B12 or folic acid in the diet can also cause anaemia.
Infections, drugs, or other diseases can destroy RBCs.
Bleeding due to injury, bleeding piles or excessive menstruation are probable causes of anaemia.
Inherited diseases like thalassaemia, cancer and leukaemia can also cause anaemia.
Emotional strain, anxiety and worry which hinders the production of hydrochloric acid, which is needed for digestion of iron and proteins in the body, could also lead to anaemia.
Dietary Treatment: Diet is of the utmost importance in the treatment of anaemia. Refined foods like white bread, polished rice, sugar and desserts rob the body of the much-needed iron. Iron should always be taken in its natural organic form in food, as the use of inorganic iron can prove hazardous. Intake of inorganic iron may cause destruction of protective vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids, serious liver damage, miscarriage during pregnancy and delayed or premature births. Suggestions to prevent or treat iron deficiency include:
Meat, poultry and fish are important sources of iron in the daily diet. Other sources include dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans, lentils, chickpeas, soyabeans, eggs, nuts and iron fortified cereals. Milk and other dairy products are extremely low in iron and may interfere with iron balance.
Vitamin C helps the body to absorb more iron, so make sure you eat plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, mandarins, berries, mangoes and tomatoes with iron-rich foods enhances the absorption of iron. Some foods are naturally rich in both iron and vitamin C such as broccoli and other dark green leafy vegetables. Fruits rich in iron include bananas, apples, dark grape, apricots, plums, raisins and strawberries. Bananas are particularly beneficial as they also contain, besides easily assailable iron folic acid and vitamin B- 12 both of which are extremely useful in the treatment of anaemia.
Vitamin B-12 is a must for preventing or curing anaemia. This vitamin is usually found in animal protein and especially in organic meats like kidney and liver. Other equally good sources of vitamin B 12 are the various dairy products like milk, eggs and cheese. Wheat germ, peanuts and soyabean also contain some B 12.