Anemia is the most common disorder of the blood. It is a condition in which the blood is 1) deficient in red blood cells or 2) deficient in hemoglobin. Either of these conditions can cause a lack of oxygen to be delivered to all parts of the body. Resulting in symptoms such as; fatigue, cold hands, loss of appetite, pallor and weakness.
Severe anemia can weaken the immune system, cause poor co-ordination and mental fuzziness and impair wound healing.
Causes of anemia include excessive blood loss, excessive destruction of red blood cells or deficient production of red blood cells.
Excessive blood loss may be acute; as in a trauma situation, or chronic; as in heavy menstrual flow or a bleeding ulcer.
Excessive destruction of red blood cells may occur when red blood cells have an abnormal shape (as seen in sickle cell anemia) and other hereditary diseases and in vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Deficient production of red blood cells is the most common category of anemia, and poor nutrition is the most common cause. The most frequent types of nutrient deficient anemia are those related to a deficiency of iron, folic acid (vitamin B9), copper or vitamin B12.
Iron deficiency anemia is most often seen in infants younger than two years old, teenage girls, pregnant women and the elderly. This type of anemia include factors associated with poor dietary intake of iron, an increased need for iron, reduced iron absorption, blood loss or a combination of these situations.
Folic acid is the most frequently found vitamin deficiency on earth. The groups of people most likely to have folic acid deficiency are alcoholics, people with mal-absorption conditions or chronic diarrhea and pregnant women. A folic acid deficiency can also cause depression, diarrhea and a swollen, red tongue.
Copper deficiency is uncommon, however, it can occur in people who take a zinc supplement without increasing their copper intake because zinc can interfere with copper absorption.
B12 deficiency is most often seen in people who have digestion problems or have had intestinal surgery or radiation, aged 60 or over, alcoholics, strict vegetarians, breast fed infants of vegetarian mothers and people taking medicine to lower cholesterol. Possible signs of a deficiency include fatigue, pins and needles sensations in the hands and feet, light-headedness, loss of appetite, difficult breathing and personality changes.
To prevent anemia you need to eat well balanced meals including iron rich foods. If you have anemia, avoid beverages and foods containing caffeine, it interferes with the body’s ability to absorb iron. Avoid tannins, they also get in the way of iron absorption as well as foods high in oxalic acids; which include almonds, asparagus, beans, beets, cashews, chocolate, kale and rhubarb.
While most cases of anemia are caused by simple nutrition deficiencies, it can also be a symptom of a more serious medical problem. The only way to get a definite diagnosis of anemia is to get a blood test. If you suspect you have anemia, do not begin a supplement program until you have a diagnosis from your physician.
Iron – helps prevent iron deficiency anemia. Take 30 milligrams fumarate, gluconate or succinate iron twice a day between meals.
If this causes stomach distress, switch to 30 milligrams with meals three times a day.
Folic acid (vitamin B9) – helps prevent anemia caused by folic acid deficiency. Take 800 to 1,200 micrograms three times daily.
Vitamin B12 – helps prevent vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. Take 2,000 micrograms sublingual (placed under the tongue) three times daily for 30 days, then 1,000 micrograms methylcobalamin (the active form of B12) once a day, plus folic acid.
Vitamin C – helps the body absorb iron. Studies have shown that you can nearly double your absorption of iron from plant sources by consuming vitamin C with the iron. Take 1,000 milligrams 3 times a day with meals.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) - helps with the production of red blood cells. Take 100 milligrams daily.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – helps with the production of red blood cells. Take 50 milligrams 3 times a day.
Stinging nettle – an herb rich in iron and other vitamins and minerals. Make an infusion using 1 teaspoon of powdered herb per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 20 minutes, strain and drink no more than one cup daily.
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