Anemia a disorder characterized by the inability of red blood cells to carry sufficient oxygen. This may be due to an abnormality of a low level of hemoglobin, the iron, and protein-based red pigment in blood that carries oxygen from the lungs to all body cells.
SYMPTOMS OF ANEMIA
- Symptoms of anemia, therefore, reflect oxygen starvation.
- In mild anemia, this may include general weakness, pallor, fatigue, and brittle nails. Shortness of breath, fainting, and cardiac arrhythmias are marked in severe cases.
- The most common type of anemia is due to iron deficiency, usually caused by blood loss of some type. Surgery patients, accidents victims, people with a bleeding ulcer or certain cancers, or those with chronic or repeated bleeding such as nosebleed often have iron-deficiency anemia.
- In fact, a blood test that shows iron deficiency often prompts a physician to investigate the possibility of colon cancer.
- Women with heavy menstrual periods, especially adolescents, are at risk as you are young children, chronic dieters, female athletes, distance runners, or people on very restricted vegetarian diets.
- Pregnant women are predisposed to anemia because the growing baby and placenta need more oxygen.
HOW MUCH DO IRON YOU NEED?
- The human body recycles iron to make new red blood cells. Even so, the body loses an average of 1 mg for men and 1.5 mg for women during reproductive years.
- The body absorbs only a small % of dietary iron. 8 mg a day for men and postmenopausal women; 18 mg for women under 50; 27 mg for pregnant women.
- Those who have nutrition-related anemias can benefit from a session with a registered dietitian. The best source of iron is animal products-meat, fish, poultry, and egg yolks.
- The body absorbs much more of the heme iron found in these foods than the nonheme iron from plant sources, such as green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, soy and other legumes, nuts, seeds, and iron-enriched bread and cereals.
- Strict vegetarians or people who rely heavily on plant food to get iron must increase their intake of these foods since they are poorly absorbed by the body.
- Adding a vitamin C-rich food to a plant-based meal can enhance the body’s absorption of nonheme iron.
- Heme iron also promotes the absorption of nonheme iron from other foods when eaten at the same meal.
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