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Iron Deficiency Anaemia: Causes, Symptoms and diet plan

Anaemia is a medical condition in which the capacity of the blood to transport oxygen to the tissues is reduced, either as a result of fewer red blood cells, or because of too little hemoglobin, or resulting in pallor and fatigue.

Anaemia occurs when there is a decreased level of hemoglobin (the tissue responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues) in the red blood cells (RBCs). As a result, it’s common to feel cold and symptoms of tiredness, weakness and shortness of breath among others.

There are many different types of anaemia, but the most common type is Iron-Deficiency Anemia.

As the name implies, Iron Deficiency Anaemia is a type of Anaemia that occurs as a result of insufficient iron in the body. Without enough mineral iron, the human body can’t produce enough Haemoglobin in red blood cells to enable them to carry oxygen.

According to online sources, this health condition affects more than two billion people globally, which is more than 30% of the total population. It is especially common in countries with few resources.

While the condition may be common, many people don’t know they have iron deficiency anemia. Therefore, It is possible to experience the symptoms for years without ever knowing the cause.

People at risk of having Iron Deficiency Anaemia include Women at child bearing age, infants and children, blood donors, pregnant women, people with poor diet, and vegetarians who do not replace meat with another food rich in iron amongst others.

Causes

Iron Deficiency Anaemia is mainly caused by lack of mineral iron in the body or inadequate iron intake. Other causes are; endometriosis, loss of iron in the blood due to heavy menstruation or pregnancy, inability of the body to absorb iron, poor diet and internal bleeding.

Symptoms

According to the American Society of Hematology (ASH), most people don’t realize they have mild anemia until they have a routine blood test.

So most likely, people with this health condition may not even notice them.

Symptoms include:

Fatigue

Dizziness

Shortness of breath

Weird cravings to eat items that aren’t food, such as dirt, ice, or clay.

Pale skin

Possible hair loss

Brittle nails

Headache

A tingling or crawling feeling in the legs

Fast or irregular heartbeat

Sore tongue

Preventive measures / diet plan

You can prevent / reduce your risk of iron deficiency anemia by choosing iron-rich foods. Making good food choices is important as eating junk food means you are getting calories without nutrients.

It’s good to note that a single food will not cure anaemia, but eating an overall healthy diet rich in meat, seafood, poultry, leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans, and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables can help you get the iron you need to manage anaemia.

You also have to consider other medical conditions that you have when you make your food choices.

Also do well to avoid eating calcium products or beverages with iron rich foods as they can block or slow down the absorption process of iron into the body.

Iron supplementation: Iron tablets can help restore iron levels in your body.

When planning your diet,

1. Add iron giving food such as

Red meat, pork and poultry.

Seafoods

Liver

Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, swiss chard.

Iron-fortified cereal, breads and pastas.

Beans such as kidney beans, chickpea, soybeans, black-eyed peas.

Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots

2. Choose foods / fruits containing vitamin C to enhance iron absorption, such as

Oranges

Kiwi

Tangerines

Broccoli

Tomatoes

Grapefruit

Leafy greens

Melons

Red peppers

Strawberries

3. Nuts and seeds: Many nuts and seeds are good sources of iron. They include

pumpkin seeds

cashews

pistachios

hemp seeds

Please note: Iron deficiency anemia isn’t something to self-diagnose or treat. So ensure to your doctor for a diagnosis rather than taking iron supplements on your own.

Also, overloading the body with iron can be dangerous.

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