Health Tip Details

Iron deficiency Anemia

Diet and Fitness


Dt. Rukhsana Syed 09 Jul 2019 683 Views

If you're tired all the time and if you see yourself constantly complaining about low energy, then it's time to go for a blood check. Pay a visit to your doctor and get your cbc (complete blood count) and iron profile done.

There is a high chance that you may be anaemic, particularly you may have iron-deficiency anemia.

Lack of energy, poor stamina, pale skin, an inability to concentrate, frequent headaches, greater susceptibility to infections and feeling cold often are other tell-tale signs.

Anemia happens when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. There are many types of anaemia. The most common type is iron deficiency Anemia. Red blood cells contain a protein called haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is full of iron.

Without sufficient iron, your body can’t make the haemoglobin it needs to create enough red blood cells to deliver oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.

How is Anemia caused?

Anemia can have many causes, including:

  • Dietary deficiency – lack of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid in the diet
  • Malabsorption – where the body is not able to properly absorb or use the nutrients in the diet, caused by conditions such as celiac disease
  • Inherited disorders – such as thalassaemia (blood cancer) or sickle cell disease
  • Autoimmune disorders – such as autoimmune haemolytic anaemia, in which the immune cells attack the red blood cells and there by decrease their life span
  • Chronic diseases – such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis
  • Hormonal disorders – such as hypothyroidism
  • Bone marrow disorders – such as cancer
  • Blood loss – due to trauma, surgery, peptic ulcer, heavy menstruation, cancer (in particular bowel cancer), or frequent blood donations
  • Drugs and medications – including alcohol, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs or anti-coagulant medications
  • Mechanical destruction –mechanical heart valves can damage red blood cells, reducing their lifespan
  • Infection – such as malaria and septicaemia, which reduce the life span of red blood cells
  • Periods of rapid growth or high energy requirements – such as puberty or pregnancy.
  • Bleeding in the stomach and intestines can also cause anaemia. This type of bleeding is sometimes a side effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Or, it may result from ulcers, piles, swelling in the large intestine or oesophagus or certain cancers.

Let us know about those who are commonly iron deficient:

1. Iron deficiency Anaemia is more common in women as compared to men. Women's needs for iron are almost double than that of men's due to the monthly blood loss through menstruation (especially women who have heavy periods).

2. Teenage girls require more iron to meet the demands of rapid growth and the onset of menstruation. Unfortunately, many of them have low iron intakes as they eat poorly, saying "no" to sensible meals and then picking at snacks.

3. Vegetarians tend to have a lower iron status than meat-eaters. Although there is abundant iron in green vegetables and cereal grains, it is not well absorbed.

4. Young children under the age of two are at risk of iron deficiency as they are growing fast and can be fussy eaters. In children, signs and symptoms of iron deficiency are delayed brain development and poor capacity for exercise. Babies who had a low birth weight or were pre-term are the ones to watch.

5. Athletes also miss out on iron as the heavy pounding of running or exercising can prematurely destroy blood cells (known as haemolysis). Greater muscle mass means more myoglobin is produced, which further raises iron needs. "Sports anaemia" is well documented in professional female athletes and can affect their capacity to train to peak levels.

6. Poor absorbing capacity - you can be at risk if, for some reason, your body can't absorb iron efficiently. For example, many people with celiac or Crohn's disease don't absorb the iron (and calcium) they ingest as their inner bowel is inflamed and so unable to do its job properly.

How will you know that you are anemic?

  1. Fatigue: When you don’t have enough healthy blood cells, you start to feel exhausted and lethargic
  2. Difficulty in Concentrating: Neurotransmitter synthesis may be altered, leading to lower than normal functionality.
  3. Apathy: Toward anything and everything-friends, family, and work
  4. Breathlessness: Without enough iron in the blood, the body becomes starved for oxygen.
  5. Unusually Pale Skin: Pale and dull skin appearance can be caused by reduced blood flow and decreased number of red blood cells.
  6. Trouble doing your normal workout: Low iron levels can cause your endurance to suffer.
  7. Sore Muscles: Not having enough iron deprives your muscles of their ability to recover properly, leading to achiness.
  8. Frail fingernails and toenails: a concave or spoon-shaped depression in the nails
  9. Frequent Infections: Do you get sick often? Particularly if you’re always suffering from respiratory illnesses.
  10. Feeling cold: Even when it’s a beautiful sunny warm day you still feel cold.

Food sources that can help you to increase your iron levels:

You may have heard that you can get iron from red meat, but there are many other foods that will help you to increase your iron stores.

In foods, iron is present in two forms: haem and non-haem.

Haem iron:

Haem iron is found in animal foods that contain haemoglobin, such as meat, fish and poultry. It is the best form of iron, as up to 40% of it is readily absorbed by your body.

Good food sources of heme iron include:

  • Meat
  • liver
  • lean red meat
  • chicken
  • seafood, including oysters

Non-Haem Iron

Non-haem iron primarily comes from plant sources and is present in grains, vegetables and fortified foods. This is the form added to foods enriched or fortified with iron, as well as many supplements. It's estimated that 85–90% of total iron intake comes from the non-heme form, while 10–15% comes from the heme form. In terms of its bioavailability, non-heme iron is absorbed much less efficiently than heme iron.

Good sources of non-haem iron include:

  • Fortified cereals, rice, wheat and oats
  • Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
  • Dried fruits like raisins and apricots
  • Beans like lentils and soybeans.

Although you absorb less of the iron in plants, every bite count, and adding a source of vitamin C foods such as citrus fruits, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes and sprouts to vegetarian sources of iron will enhance absorption.

Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet that includes a variety of foods from all five food groups, especially fruits and vegetables, can help ensure enough of both haem and non-haem iron are making onto the plate.

So, anyone who is suffering from low iron count can start introducing iron rich food in the diet. Also, if you want us to help you plan your diet better, please purchase our therapeutic diet plan from:

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