Are you Anemic?

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What Is Anemia?

Anemia develops when you don’t have enough robust, healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. The blood cells may lack enough hemoglobin, the protein that gives blood its red color. Anemia affects one in 10 teen girls and women. It also develops in men and children and is linked to some illnesses.

Symptoms of Anemia

If you’re often tired even though you’ve slept well or you lack the energy for normal activities, you may have anemia. It can be an underlying cause of memory or mood problems. Symptoms range from none to mild to life-threatening and may include:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin

Cause: Low Iron Intake

A diet that’s low in iron can cause anemia. Iron from plants and supplements isn’t absorbed as well as the iron in red meat. Digestive concerns such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or even having gastric bypass surgery can interfere with iron absorption. And some foods and medicines can hinder iron uptake when taken with iron-rich foods. They include:

  • Dairy
  • Other calcium-rich foods
  • Calcium supplements
  • Antacids
  • Coffee
  • Tea

Diagnosis: Complete Blood Count

A complete blood count test will check your levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and hemoglobin. It will also check other factors such as average size, variability in size, volume, and hemoglobin concentration of red blood cells. If you have iron-deficiency anemia, your red blood cells may be smaller than normal. Your health care provider also may ask about your symptoms, medicines you take, and your family history.

Preventing Anemia

You can prevent some types of anemia with a healthy diet. Foods containing iron include lean red meat, liver, fish, tofu, lentils and beans, dark green leafy vegetables, and dried fruits. Also eat foods with vitamin B12 and folic acid, such as eggs and dairy products, spinach, and bananas. Many breads, cereals, and other foods are fortified with all three key nutrients: iron, B12, and folic acid. Vitamin C, found in citrus, other fruits, and vegetables, will help your body absorb iron.

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