Anemia refers to the decrease in the amount of hemoglobin found in red blood cells. There are different types of anemia, all with similar symptoms but different causes. Treatment varies depending on the diagnosed type of Anemia. A physician should be consulted for treatment options. Symptoms of Anemia include weakness, fatigue, pale skin, increased heart rate, and weight loss.

Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA)

This is the most common cause of anemia. Iron is needed for hemoglobin (Hb) production and is mostly stored in Hb molecules in the body. Causes of this type of anemia include:

  • Diets low in iron
  • Chronic blood loss
  • Body changes (growth, pregnancy, etc )
  • Astrointestinal tract abnormalities and diseases

Vitamin B12 (B12) Deficiency Anemia

Vitamin B12 is essential for normal nervous system function and blood cell production. Main sources of B12 include meat, eggs, and dairy products. Causes of this type of anemia include:

  • Diet low in Vitamin B12
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Intestinal Malabsorption disorders
  • Pernicious anemia (caused by the absence of a protein present in the stomach that binds to B12 and allows for its absorption)
  • Folic Acid Deficiency Anemia (FADA)

Folic acid is necessary for growth ,cellular repair and is essential for the formation of red blood cells. FADA mostly affects women over 30. Causes of this type of anemia include:

  • Advanced age
  • Illness
  • Alcoholism
  • Smoking
  • Diets low in folic acid
  • Body’s inability to digest foods with folic acid content
  • Birth-control pills & anticonvulsant therapy
  • Genetic Predisposition (MTHFR) gene.

Hemolytic Anemia
Sometimes Red Blood Cells (RBCs) are destroyed faster than the bone marrow can produce them. Thalassemia -an inherited blood disorder- is a good example of a disease that can cause hemolytic anemia (for more information see “MedLabs Thalassemia Pamphlet”).

What tests can be carried out to detect Anemia?

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Serum Iron
  • Serum Vitamin B12 levels
  • Serum Folic Acid levels
  • Serum Ferritin levels

Other tests (optional):

  • MTHFR(genetic predisposition)
  • Parietal Cell Antibodies
  • Intrinsic Factor Antibodies
  • Hb Pattern Analysis

What to eat when suffering from Anemia?

  • Vitamin C (enhances iron and folate absorption)
  • Iron-rich foods: meat, chicken, fish, shellfish
  • Beta-carotene-rich foods: carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, apricots, cantaloupe
  • Folic Acid rich foods: asparagus, beets, broccoli, avocados, spinach, beans, chickpeas, lentils, oranges, peas, turkey, cabbage
  • Vitamin B12 rich foods: beef, trout, crab, oysters, tuna, yogurt
  • Vitamin B6-rich foods: sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, mangoes, brown rice, chicken, tuna, chickpeas, salmon, turkey, barley

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