Avoiding Anemia

Feel tired all the time? You may be anemic!

If you feel tired and weak you may have anemia. When the number of red blood cells or your hemoglobin level is too low, your body can’t get all of the oxygen it needs, this can leave you feeling very tired and may even affect your ability to concentrate. Anemia can also cause shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, pale skin, or cold hands and feet.

Anemia may be mild and short term but can become serious if left untreated for a long period of time. Anemia is often easily preventable or correctable if it is due to lack of specific nutrients. The most common forms of anemia are blood loss anemia, folic acid deficiency, B12 deficiency and iron deficiency.

Anemia is very common and occurs in all age, racial, and ethnic groups. Both men and women can have anemia although women of childbearing age are at higher risk for anemia due to their menstrual cycles.

In addition to needing iron, folic acid (folate), or vitamin B12 your body also needs small amounts of vitamin C, riboflavin, and copper to make red blood cells. Issues of malabsorption can make it difficult for your body to absorb the nutrients required to making enough red blood cells.

Iron rich foods include beef and other red meats, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, and shellfish, iron-fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, peas; lentils; white, red, and baked beans; soybeans; and chickpeas, prunes, raisins, apricots, prune juice and dried fruit.

Foods rich in folic acid, can be found in citrus fruits and juices, bananas, dark green leafy vegetables, and fortified breads, cereals, and pasta and rice, black-eyed peas and dried beans, beef liver and eggs.

Vitamin B12 is found in clams, liver, beef, fortified breakfast cereals, trout, salmon, tuna, haddock, milk, yogurt, cheese, ham, eggs, and chicken.

Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Good sources of vitamin C are vegetables and fruits, especially citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines. Fresh and frozen fruits, vegetables, and juices usually have more vitamin C than canned ones. Other fruits rich in vitamin C include kiwi fruit, strawberries, and cantaloupes. Vegetables rich in vitamin C include broccoli, peppers, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, and leafy green vegetables like turnip greens and spinach.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) can be found in fortified cereals and energy bars, spirulina, (dry seaweed), whey, maple syrup, venison, caviar, liver, milk, peas, zucchini, sun dried tomatoes, tempeh (fermented soy), Greek yogurt, bean sprouts, and soymilk.

Copper, a trace mineral, like riboflavin is required for blood formation and, like vitamin C helps the body absorb and use iron. Sources of copper include spirulina, trail mix, quail, tortilla chips, radicchio, soy chips, dried coconut, puffed millet, granola bars, roasted buckwheat, kamut, chestnuts, peanut butter, grape leaves, bacon, salami, paprika, molasses, ground ginger, chili powder, soybean sprouts, medjool dates, and wakame seaweed.

Many people living with anemia may not realize they have it. They might have mild symptoms or none at all. A doctor can determine whether you have anemia by a simple blood test. If you have the symptoms of anemia but are not checked for all these nutrients in your blood testing, you may find you missed the actual cause of your symptoms!