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Anemia and Diet

What is Anemia?

The condition known as anemia occurs when the level of hemoglobin, the molecule which transports oxygen in the blood, falls, or the number of red blood cells falls below normal levels, causing a reduction in the supply of oxygen to the tissues. Common causes of anemia in women include loss of blood during menstruation, and nutritional deficiency of iron, folate or vitamin B12. Common symptoms of anemia include tiredness and fatigue.

Diet Guide For Anemia

If you are anemic, here is some basic advice to reduce symptoms of anemia by dietary means:

  • Increase your intake of iron from foods such as offal (eg. liver), other red meat, offal, chicken, fish and green leafy vegetables like spinach. [Note: avoid offal when pregnant due to possible vitamin A overload]
  • Iron from animal sources is more easily absorbed than iron from plant foods.
  • Vitamin C increases the uptake of iron, so add foods containing vitamin C (eg. orange juice, tomato salad) to your iron-rich meals, or eat any citrus fruit for dessert.
  • Lack of vitamin B12 can contribute to anemia, so in addition to adding iron to your eating plan increase your intake of foods containing vitamin B12, such as beef, pork, eggs, cheese and milk. Vegetarians should eat plenty of yeast extract or B12-fortified foods like ready-to-eat cereals.
  • Increase your intake of folate by adding these foods to your diet: green leafy vegetables, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, whole grains, wheatgerm, fortified breakfast cereal, avocados, egg yolks and melon.

Restrict Intake of Foods That Deplete Iron Levels

Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia may be aggravated by certain foods. So reduce your consumption of foods that reduce iron-absorption or deplete your iron reserves. These foods include: tea, coffee, bran or bran cereals. TIP: Stinging nettles and dandelion leaves are rich in iron and make interesting teas.

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