Anemia is a syndrome that affects the red blood cells, which are responsible for oxygenating the body’s tissues. When we talk about anemia we always think of iron as the cause of this disease. However, there are several types and they can appear due to a lack of iron, vitamin B12 and / or folic acid. In this post I explain the three most common types as well as the proper diet to combat it.
Iron deficiency anemia
It means we don’t have enough red blood cells. This type of anemia is the most common and the cause is iron deficiency . Iron is used to produce red blood cells, in blood tests they appear as red blood cells or erythrocytes. Red blood cells are responsible for delivering oxygen to all cells in the body. Without iron, red blood cells cannot oxygenate the body effectively.
Where does the iron in red blood cells come from?
Iron from old red blood cells is reused to make new ones, and also the iron that we ingest through our diet. This anemia occurs when the body’s iron stores are too low.
Causes of iron deficiency anemia
- In women: heavy, frequent and long periods.
- Ulcers in the digestive tract.
- Undiagnosed celiac disease.
- Crohn’s disease.
- Bad diet. For example, it is common in vegetarians with a poorly planned diet or in older people who eat little and do not cook much (make milk-based dinners with cookies or cereals not to cook, etc.).
Symptoms of low iron stores
- Tiredness even if we sleep well.
- Feeling of physical weakness.
- Mood swings.
- Concentration problems.
- Pale skin.
- Nails break more easily.
- Difficulty breathing, especially when we make efforts such as playing sports, climbing stairs, etc.
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Diet for iron deficiency anemia
In the first place, the origin must be sought in order to improve the causes that cause the affectation. Second, take an iron supplement until the problem subsides. Finally, we must continue to eat a diet rich in iron.
Foods rich in “heme” iron or iron with good bioavailability : Red meat and offal, chicken, fish. Iron is in the blood of animals. Meats with a higher concentration of blood have more iron.
Its cause is a lack of vitamin B12 . This deficit can be caused by a poor diet or stomach problems (for example gastritis), which is the place where the intrinsic factor is manufactured, essential to absorb this vitamin. There are also cases derived from thyroid and parathyroid hormonal problems. In addition, there is an important genetic component to pernicious anemia. This means that we probably have a family history of the same problem. As in the case of iron, it affects the number of red blood cells since vitamin B12 is also involved in their production.
Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency
- Gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea and constipation.
- Pale skin.
- Difficulty concentrating, confusion and imbalance.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Tingling in the hands and feet.
- Damage to the nervous system.
Diet for vitamin B12 deficiency anemia
In the case of having a damaged stomach and not being able to assimilate it well, we should opt for the injection of muscular vitamin B12. The alternative when there are no stomach problems is to take vitamin supplements that provide B12 and eat foods rich in B12: meat, fish, eggs, dairy. It should be noted that this vitamin is only found in a bioavailable way in foods of animal origin.
It is an affectation produced by a deficiency of vitamin B12 and / or folic acid (vitamin B9). It affects not only red blood cells, but also white blood cells and platelets. Red blood cells do not mature correctly , they die before their time and are larger than usual (increased mean corpuscular volume), it is also called macrocytic anemia for this reason. It usually appears in malnourished people, with alcoholism problems, during pregnancy or in chemotherapy treatments.
Symptoms of these deficits
- Ulcers in the mouth and on the tongue.
- Tingling in the extremities.
- Loss of appetite.
Dietary guideline for anemia due to lack of vitamin B12 and / or B9
Look in a blood test to see what vitamin we are missing and what is causing the problem. As for food, we must eat foods rich in vitamin B12 (the former) and / or folic acid: especially whole grains and leafy vegetables such as cabbage, chard and spinach (the latter better raw or undercooked).