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Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Iron deficiency anaemia, often caused due to inadequate iron intake, is one of the most common types of anaemia. Let’s understand its symptoms and treatments ensuring that iron levels in the blood spring back to normal

Anaemia, one of the most common disorders pertaining to blood, is characterised by a
decrease in number of red blood cells (RBCs) and a resultant decrease in the haemoglobin carrying capacity of the blood. Haemoglobin, found inside RBCs, is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to various organs of the body. Consequently, the condition of anaemia leads to lack of oxygen in the body resulting in nausea and fatigue.

Research shows that there are several types of anaemia. However, one of the most common and prevalent types is Iron Deficiency Anaemia. The body (more specifically the bone marrow) needs iron to make red blood cells, which in turn plays an important role in the structure of the haemoglobin molecule. Iron deficiency anaemia occurs when the body’s iron content decreases. This could be due to poor dietary intake of iron, excessive blood loss due to conditions like ulcers or the body’s inability to absorb iron.

Symptoms

If the anaemia is mild, there are hardly any significant symptoms. Most of the time, symptoms develop slowly and include:

  • Frequent tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Problems in concentrating
  • Light-headedness when standing up
  • Pale skin colour
  • Shortness of breath

Treatment

We normally get iron through our daily diet and by reusing iron from old RBCs. The good news is that a number of foods can help raise our iron levels. Iron supplements may also be taken to build up iron levels quickly. Iron combines with protein molecules in the body to help promote the flow of oxygen. Thus, increasing the iron intake can help the body better convert food into energy. However, one must first discuss his condition with the family physician before commencing any treatment.

The iron stores in the body can be built up using iron-rich foods like:

PeasLima Beans (Vaal)Kidney Beans
(Rajma)
Lentils (Masoor)SoybeansWhole Grain Bread
OatmealPeachesDatesRaisinsTofuCereals

In addition to consuming these iron-rich foods, one must also take into consideration the following:

  • Iron absorption in the body decreases when iron- rich foods are taken along with milk, tea, coffee and foods with high fibre content. Separating intake of iron and these inhibiting substances by a few hours is advisable.
  • The body’s iron absorption is impacted adversely by calcium. Hence, iron and calcium tablets should not be taken together. In fact, many antacids also contain calcium, and should therefore be taken a few hours after the consumption of iron-rich foods.
  • The body’s absorption of iron increases if iron-rich foods are accompanied by citrus juices or other foods having high content of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is easily available in grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, melons, oranges, strawberries and tomatoes.

Incorporate iron-rich foods in your diet and close the doors to the malady of iron deficiency anaemia.

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