Anemia is a condition that describes low hemoglobin levels or too few red blood cells in the blood. A protein rich in proteins, hemoglobin is essential for the blood to maintain optimum health and it is also the reason blood is red. Hemoglobin plays an important role of assisting red blood cells as they carry oxygen from the lungs to various places in the body.
Several anemic conditions exist and each one is caused by various reasons. Anemia generally occurs when there is a great loss of blood. While some anemic conditions are temporary and easily treated, there are other forms of anemia that are more severe and can be life threatening if not medically treated in time. Temporary issues with anemia can be prevented and treated through diet and the addition of dietary supplements.
Types of Anemia
- B12 deficiency can cause anemia.
- Folate deficiency can cause anemia.
- Iron deficiency can cause anemia.
- Chronic disease can cause anemia.
- Anemia can be caused by hemolysis, when an abnormal disintegration of red blood cells occurs.
- Loss of blood cell production in bone marrow causes idiopathic aplastic anemia.
- Anemia caused by megaloblasts, malformed red blood cells, also referred to as megaloblastic anemia.
- Pernicious anemia, caused also by the presence of megaloblasts cells in the blood.
- Anemia caused by misshapen, sticky coated red blood cells that resemble a sickle, thus the term describing the disorder sickle cell anemia.
- Anemia caused by an inherited disorder called thalassemia, a disorder that cause red blood cell destruction.
Anemic sufferers may experience discomforting symptoms like lightheadedness upon standing up. They may feel cold. Sufferers look pale and have brittle nails. Shortness of breath and chest pains is caused by the lack of oxygen to the heart, thus increasing the risk of heart attack. Fainting is a symptom in those people suffering with more severe anemic conditions. Many sufferers crave odd, non-edible things like dirt or clay and some crave ice. Fatigue, poor concentration and constipation are also symptoms.
Many people do not know they have anemia until the onset of more severe symptoms take place because some forms of the disorder take a long time to develop.
These symptoms might include:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Spells of dizziness
- Cold or numb sensation in the feet and hands
- Irregular or increased heart rate
- Chest pains
- Lowered body temperature
- Irritable moods
- Poor performance in school or at work
Symptoms associated with a worsening case of anemia:
- The sclera, the white of the eyes, appears as a bluish color
- Brittle finger and toenails
- Light feeling in the head upon standing up
- Pale skin
- Tongue soreness
- Shortness of breath
- The heart can become overworked while trying to provide blood with enough oxygen in it to the entire body, thus causing some of the symptoms associated with anemia.
The healthy, normal rate of red blood cell replacement is between .8 and 1%. Healthy red blood cells usually survive between one hundred to one twenty days. Without Vitamin B12, iron and folate, red blood cells cannot fully mature. In the event the delicate balance of red blood cell production is compromised, anemia is the direct result. The destruction of red blood cells can also cause anemic disorders.
Causes Of Decreased Red Blood Cell Production
- Oxygen sensitive hormone erythropoietin, produced by the kidneys, is not stimulating the production of red blood cells.
- Lack of minerals and vitamins B12, iron and folate
- The Common Cause Of Anemia Is Iron Deficiency
The World Health Organization states over 2 billion people around the globe suffer with anemia due to lack of iron. Many sufferers also have other issues causing their anemia to more severe than some other cases.
Loss Of Blood
Blood loss causes most cases of iron deficient anemia. Some people experience anemia due to a short term blood loss while others have blood loss that spans over a time period.
Heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding digestive issues like ulcers or bleeding in the urinary tract can also cause the loss of blood. If too many red blood cells are lost, the result is anemia.
Some surgeries, cancer and trauma can also cause the loss of blood and anemia.
Low Red Blood Cell Production
Chronic diseases and pregnancy can also cause someone to acquire anemia. If you acquire a condition, you were not born with it. However, the person that is born with a gene from their parents could mean they are predisposed to becoming an anemic sufferer. The anemic disorder aplastic anemia can be inherited or acquired.
A special combination of vitamins and minerals allow the body to produce healthy red blood cells. Folic acid, also referred to as folate, iron and Vitamin B12 work in combination with riboflavin, Vitamin C and copper to produce health red blood cells.
Medical conditions or diseases that interfere with or compromise nutrient absorption can increase the risk for anemia.
Hormonal Influences And Control
Without the hormone erythropoietin, red blood cell production can greatly decrease. Bone marrow cannot produce an adequate level of red blood cells without the influences and control of this hormone.
Medical Conditions And Treatments
Some diseases can increase the chances of anemia, especially the ones like cancer or kidney disease, which have an impact on the body’s ability to produce red blood cells.
Treatments for disease, like the ones for cancer, can cause damage to the bone marrow and decrease the red blood cells’ oxygen transporting abilities. The damage did to bone marrow will cause it to decrease in the number of red blood cells being produced.
Sufferers of diseases like HIV/AIDS acquire anemia easily due to medications given for treatment and infections caused by low immunity.
Pregnancy And Anemia
Pregnant women experiencing lowered levels of folic acid and iron in addition to changes taking place in the blood can develop anemia.
Plasma in pregnant women increases greatly in the first six months. Plasma is the fluid portion in blood and it increases at a rate much faster than the production of red blood cells during those first six months. The greater amount of plasma causes blood dilution that decreases red blood cell count.
About Aplastic Anemia
Babies born with aplastic anemia cannot produce an adequate a level of red blood cells. Aplastic anemic babies and children are generally given blood transfusions to raise their levels of red blood cells.
Some medications and toxins in addition to some infectious diseases can cause aplastic anemia as well.
Red Blood Cell Destruction
Conditions inherited and acquired are factors that can increase your risk of red blood cell destruction. For example, the spleen’s job is to remove the red blood cells that are no longer needed by the body. In the event the spleen becomes diseased or enlarged, it can remove too many red blood cells, thus causing anemia.
Natural Cures For Anemia
The cause of anemia determines the type of treatment that it will best respond to. Nutritional deficiencies causing anemia are treated with supplementation to the diet, usually of iron, B12 and folic acid. For some patients suffering with more severe anemic disorders, physicians prescribe erythropoietin injections for helping to raise the levels of bone marrow red blood cell production. In most cases, health care provides prefer to avoid giving blood transfusions unless it absolutely necessary.
Providing Sufficient Iron
A woman requires around 18 mg of iron daily. When she gets pregnant, her need for iron increases to 27 mg daily. The diet a pregnant woman eats can provide the amount of iron necessary during pregnancy, but most physicians like to prescribe prenatal vitamins that will help to maintain important iron levels and avoid iron deficiencies during pregnancy.
The Foods High In Iron
Decreasing your risk of anemia due to iron deficiencies while pregnant is important and can be done with the foods you eat. Foods high in iron include:
- The dark meat of poultry
- Dried prunes, dates, figs, raisins and apricots
- Cereals, breads and pastas that are fortified with iron
- Meats, especially liver
- Whole grains like quinoa and brown rice
- Molasses (Blackstrap)
- Seafood choices safe for pregnant women
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Potatoes baked with the skins on
- Peas, beans
- Seeds, nuts
Eating foods high in Vitamin C can increase iron absorption. Choose foods like oranges, orange juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, grapefruit and strawberries.
Some foods can decrease the absorption of iron. These foods include coffee, soy protein, tea, fiber, milk and egg yolks.
Your physician may prescribe you iron supplements if you are experiencing anemia. For some people, iron supplements have digestive side effects like heartburn, nausea and constipation. To avoid dealing with digestive discomforts while taking iron, follow these tips:
- Take your supplements with food
- Slowly increase your dosage. Take one pill a day for a few days and then two a day for a few days, etc. Doing so can allow your body to adjust to the introduction of iron. Remember to take only the number of supplements daily recommended by your doctor.
- Trying several brands of iron supplements can help you find one that is easiest on your digestive system. Always talk to your physician before you make any changes in supplement brands. Do not take supplements at bed time
- If you are anemic, your health care provider may prescribe an iron supplement. Some iron supplements may cause heartburn, constipation or nausea. Here are some tips to avoid or reduce these problems:
- Take the pills with meals.
- Start with small doses and work your way up to the full dose slowly. For example, try taking one pill a day for a few days, then two pills until you aren't bothered by that amount. Increase the number of pills until you're taking the amount your health care provider recommends.
- Try different brands to see which works best for you. Be sure to discuss any changes with your health care provider ahead of time.
- Avoid taking iron pills at bedtime.
- You can help to keep down constipation issues by drinking more water. Drinking more water can benefit your body in several ways.
Natural Remedies For Curing Anemia
- Drinking beet daily can help to cure anemia.
- Sunlight can stimulate the production of red blood cells.
- A spoonful each day of banana pulp and honey.
- Daily iron supplementation
- Soak in bath of Epsom salts for a minimum of ten minutes. You can also soak only your feet as well.
- Taking a cold bath twice daily is an effective way to combat anemia.
- Muscle massage, especially for the hands, legs and arms, to promote blood flow.
- Eating apples, at least two or three daily, can increase your iron levels.
- Eating citrus fruits each day for maintaining Vitamin C and your body’s ability to absorb iron.
- Honey has been found to be a great remedy for anemia. Mix one teaspoon of lemon juice, one teaspoon apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of honey for a remedy that tastes delicious and cures anemia as well.
- If you enjoy coffee, drink decaffeinated instead of coffee with caffeine.
- Eating figs daily, two or three at least, is an effective anemia remedy.
- Daily supplementation of Vitamin B12 can free you from anemia and help you to stay that way.
- Petimezi, also called Grapemust or grape molasses, is non-fermented juice from grapes. Taking one spoon of this delicious, sweet ingredient daily for anemic prevention. Greeks on the Island of Crete boiled down grapemust for use as a sweetener when sugar was too expensive to purchase. Moustos from grapes has to be boiled for several hours for reaching the proper thickness and color. One great benefit of Petimezi is it boasts along shelf life. The sweet, yet tangy sour taste of Petimezi is delicious and it contains high levels of iron.
Those people dealing with anemia should always pay special attention to their diets. Making sure to include fresh fruits and vegetables every day is extremely important for you to maintain optimum good health. The healthier you get by eating right, the easier it will be for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Tips About Dieting And Exercise
Overdoing it when it comes to working out can be easy to do. Many people do so and suffer the consequences when their bodies are depleted of the nutrients that protect you against anemia. When dieting, you stand to face health issues like anemia caused from the lack of necessary daily nutrients. Balancing your dieting and exercise efforts in a healthy manner can allow you to experience greater benefits from them.