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If you are feeling exhausted despite lots of sleeps, have decreased energy, and seem to be
unusually pale, the culprit could be some form of anemia. Although iron-deficiency anemia is by
far the most common form of anemia, there are other types. Here, we will discuss three forms of
anemia that are related to nutrition. (Black, 2015)
Anemia is any blood disorder in which the number of the red blood cells are low or the
hemoglobin content in the red blood cells is low. Red blood cells with the help of iron-containing
hemoglobin move oxygen from your lungs to bodily tissues. Any change in the size or amount of
these cells affects how oxygen is transported within your body. This in turn can affect your
energy level greatly. (Black, 2015)
Sign and symptoms
When you have anemia, your heart has to work harder to pump oxygen-rich blood
through your body. Some common symptoms of anemia include fatigue, lightheadedness,
weakness , shortness of breath , cold hands and feet, pale skin and chest pain. (Black, 2015)
Types of anemia
Women of childbearing age are more likely to suffer from iron-deficiency anemia than
men. Because women lose iron in red blood cells during menstruation, anemia can result if the
iron is not replaced. Iron-deficiency anemia can be caused by the following deficiency of iron in
the diet , an accident or trauma that causes acute blood loss and gradual blood loss, such as
gastrointestinal bleeding or menstruation . Other than women of childbearing age, children and
teens are the next most likely to suffer from iron-deficiency anemia. (Black, 2015)
Megaloblastic Anemia is the type of anemia is primarily associated with inadequate
intake or utilization of vitamin B12 and folic acid two vitamins necessary for cell division. Thus
cells that need rapid replenishment, such as blood cells, are most often affected by a deficiency
of these vitamins. The result is that fewer red blood cells are produced and available to carry
oxygen to the body's cells, resulting in anemia. A decreased intake of folic acid from food can
result in anemia. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and periods of rapid growth, which increase the
body's need for folic acid, can also contribute to anemia. Heavy alcohol consumption will
increase folic acid requirements also.

Vitamin B12 is found in animal products. Thus,

vegetarians who consume dairy and egg products are not at increased risk for B12 deficiency,
while individuals who are strict vegans (and their breastfed infants) are most at risk for B12
deficiency. Aging also affects B12 status because less acid is produced in the stomach as we
age. Acid helps to release the active form of vitamin B12 in the stomach. From the stomach, B12
travels down the intestines where it is absorbed into the body in the small intestines. Therefore,
people who have malabsorption are also at risk for B12 deficiency. Causes of the megaloblastic
anemias include inadequate intake or absorption of foods with a high B12 content, such as meat,
poultry, fish, cheese, milk, and eggs, inadequate intake or absorption of foods rich in folic acid,
such as green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts,
asparagus, citrus fruits, strawberries, wheat germ, and brewer's yeast, alcoholism ,low levels of
acid in the stomach, removal of parts of the stomach or small intestine and gluten sensitivity.
(Black, 2015)

Pernicious anemia is a form of megaloblastic anemia caused by the absence of intrinsic

factor a chemical substance secreted by cells in the stomach that makes absorption of vitamin
B12 possible. Lack of intrinsic factor is thought to be caused by a genetic deficiency or an
autoimmune disorder. Vitamin B12 injections are the traditional treatment for pernicious anemia,
but the supplement can also be taken orally in large doses.Pernicious anemia usually affects
adults. The symptoms of this disorder come on gradually and may not be immediately
recognized. Megaloblastic anemia of any sort must be properly diagnosed and treated because
serious problems with muscles and balance may occur if anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency
is treated with folic acid alone. (Black, 2015)
Lab examination
Doctor will conduct a full medical examination to diagnose anemia and rule out another
significant illnesses. It is important to tell the doctor if you have a family history of anemia,
gallbladder disease, jaundice, or an enlarged spleen. Other than that, the basic lab tests for
diagnosing anemia are a complete blood count (CBC) and blood smears. A complete blood count
is performed to assess the red blood cells. It yields two important numbers hemoglobin a protein
found in red blood cells and ematocrit the percentage blood made up by red blood cells . A
technician will classify your blood by color, size, and shape. A blood test can also measure the

amount of ferritin, an important iron-storage protein. Low ferritin levels indicate chronic iron
deficiency. (Black, 2015)
Treatment and prevention
For the treatment of anemia recommend a diet rich in iron for people who have irondeficiency anemia. Iron-rich foods include Beef liver, Poultry, Fish, Wheat germ, Oysters, Dried
fruit, Iron-fortified cereals and Eggs. Foods high in Vitamin B12 include Liver , Meat, Fish, Eggs
and Milk and other dairy products. Foods high in folic acid include Liver, Chicken giblets, Egg
yolks, Enriched grain products (including certain breakfast cereals), Beans and other legumes,
Leafy green vegetables, Bananas, Oranges and Peaches. (Black, 2015)
Follow these tips to make sure you get enough of what you need in your diet: Variety
Choose a healthy variety of foods, especially those rich in iron and folic acid, such as lean red
meat, foods fortified with iron and folic acid, and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin C Include
plenty of foods rich in vitamin C when you eat foods that contain iron. The vitamin C will help
absorb more of the available iron. Cast-iron cooking Use cast-iron cookware. Tiny iron
particles from the cookware are transferred to food and can provide a significant source of
dietary iron. Do not smoke Smoking increases vitamin requirements and has a negative effect
on your health in general. Supplements In addition to dietary changes, taking iron
supplements may be necessary in some cases. First, talk to your doctor to find out if a
supplement is advisable for you. Since iron supplements often cause constipation, stomach upset,
and nausea, be sure to eat extra fiber and take iron with a full meal. Be sure that any
megaloblastic anemia is properly diagnosed before treatment with folic acid begins. As noted
above, serious consequences can occur if anemia due to vitamin B12 is incorrectly diagnosed
and treated. (Black, 2015)


Black, B. (2015). Symptoms Anemia: How Food and Vitamins Can Help Wellness 14683.