Fatigue, paleness of the skin, dizziness and breathlessness are common symptoms of anemia. Anemia is a common disorder of the blood, characterized by low level of hemoglobin or lesser amount of red blood cells in the blood stream. There are several types of anemia. Anemia could develop from genetic disorders or excess bleeding. It can also be the symptom of underlying ailments. However, most cases of anemia develop from deficiency of certain nutrients in the diet. Anemia developing from nutrient deficient diets could be treated easily with modification of the diet.
Deficiency of iron in the body is one of the major causes of anemia. Your body needs iron for manufacturing hemoglobin in the blood. Only 1mg of iron out of 10 to 20mg of iron consumed is absorbed by the body. A well balanced diet is needed to prevent iron deficiency. Your iron requirement would vary according to age and your physical condition. Compared to men, women need more iron in their diet. Women between 19 and 50 years of age need at least 18mg of iron per day. Teen girls and boys need respectively around 15 and 11mg of iron daily.
Usually 8mg of iron per day is sufficient for healthy adult males and women after menopause. Dietary iron requirement increases during pregnancy. A pregnant woman would require at least 27mg of iron daily. Breastfeeding helps to prevent anemia in infants. Iron in mother’s milk could be easily absorbed by the infant. However, the human body could not properly absorb the iron present in formula milk and cow’s milk. Meat, organ meats, liver, poultry, fish, shellfish, beans, legumes, peas and spinach are rich sources of iron.
Anemia can also develop from vitamin B12 deficiency. Usually anemia developing from vitamin B12 deficiency, also known as pernicious anemia, is an autoimmune disease. The destruction of the parietal cells of the stomach lining, which are associated with absorption of vitamin B12, is responsible for this blood disorder. Meat, milk, dairy products and eggs are the best sources of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is usually deficient in vegan diets.
Vitamin C helps in iron absorption. Besides filling up your plates with iron rich foods, remember to have vitamin C rich fruits regularly.