Facts About Anemia
Anemia is a medical condition caused by a deficiency of iron in the body. Iron is necessary and is a part of all human cells. Iron is also a part of many enzymes that help with such things as digesting food. Our muscles store and use oxygen with the help of iron. A lack of iron negatively affects many parts of our body. Unfortunately, anemia is a common nutritional deficiency in our society.
Why should we be concerned about iron deficiency or anemia? Iron is necessary for normal infant motor development and a lack of iron can affect normal thinking and mental development. Anemia during pregnancy can result in premature delivery and low birth weight babies. Anemia in adults can result in extreme fatigue and also affect memory and mental function.
Anemia has several different causes. The most common one is an increased need for iron due to growth or pregnancy. The additional iron necessary for growth can often not be obtained through diet along. Another is due to excess blood loss from menstrual periods, frequent donation of blood or some stomach and intestinal diseases. It is often difficult is ingest enough iron to meet the need of the body. Substances such as tea, coffee, sodas and dairy products can interfere with the absorption of iron. Foods containing vitamin C aid in absorption when eaten with foods high in iron content. Some medications such as antacids and medications for reflux can reduce the amount of iron absorbed.
Someone in the early stages of anemia may show no signs or symptoms. As the iron deficiency increases body function become impaired and are more apparent. The best way to detect anemia is to have a blood test performed by a healthcare provider. Some signs of anemia include:
-Feeling tired and weak
-Decreased performance at school or work
-Slow mental and social development in children and teens
-Difficulty maintaining body temperature
-Increased susceptibility to infection
Anemia is treated with iron supplements but it is important to get a diagnosis from a healthcare provider before attempting to treat the condition. A good balanced diet containing a variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains and nonfat milk will go a long way toward making sure you don’t suffer from anemia. Eating food high in vitamin C in combination with food high in iron will help in the absorption of iron. The best treatment for anemia is prevention.