What is Low Iron or Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia — a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. As the name implies, iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient iron.
Nutrition for Low Iron or Anemia
Iron is a component that is required for oxygen transport within hemoglobin.
It’s also required for red blood cell formation. If your iron stores and your hemoglobin drop really low, you may be experiencing weakness and breathlessness and loss of strength.
Make sure you look to consume at least two to three servings of a meat source of protein each week. This is going to contain what’s so-called heme iron, which is a much more absorbable form of iron. Look for things like red meat, lean red meats such as steak and ground beef, as well as chicken and seafood.
Things like our leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale and broccoli. These are non-heme iron sources, however, so you must consume a vitamin C source to enhance absorption of these. Citrus fruit or strawberries taken with those non-heme iron sources can also help you to replenish your stores.
Local Practitioners: Registered Dietitian
Pernicious anemia is a vitamin B12 deficiency that occurs in about one percent of the population as they age. It can be more common in certain groups, such a those with autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes or patients who have had stomach or ileum (the end of the small bowel) surgery.
Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia
The most common symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency is fatigue. In later stages, it can cause a peripheral neuropathy with numbness of the feet and the lower legs. Pernicious anemia can affect the balance and strength of the lower limbs, due to its effects on the spinal cord. It can affect the vision with optic atrophy or actual damage to the optic nerve. In the most severe cases it can present with a dementia-illness that resembles Alzheimer’s disease.
Fortunately, pernicious anemia does not usually reach more serious manifestations, as it’s diagnosed earlier when a patient presents with fatigue or anemia. The diagnosis is made by measuring a vitamin B12 level, which is easy to do. If you’re vitamin B12 deficient, there’s a characteristic abnormality of your blood. In addition to becoming anemic, which is a decrease in the red blood cells, the red blood cells get very big. Big blood cells are called macrocytosis, and they’re measured by the MCV parameter on the blood test. A very high MCV is highly suggestive of a vitamin B12 deficiency, and that’s often the first clue.
Treatment of Pernicious Anemia
Once the diagnosis of pernicious anemia has been made, vitamin B12 supplementation is necessary. Historically, people would get vitamin B12 injections for the rest of their lifetime, but that’s actually not necessary in many patients. Because it is possible to absorb vitamin B12 in different fashions, even if the main absorptive mechanism is defective, patients can often get enough vitamin B12 orally. Often, a patient receives a short course of B12 injections to put the blood level back into the safe range. Then, the patient will take oral supplements to maintain healthy vitamin B12 levels.
You can also increase your intake of foods that are high in vitamin B12. Work with your physician or nutritionist to create a healthy meal plan with foods such as organ meats, clams, sardines, fortified traditional yeast, tuna and fortified cereal.