If you feel tired and weak most of the time you may have anemia.
Anemia occurs when the number of red blood cells is too low or your hemoglobin level is too low. When this occurs, your body tissues can’t get all of the oxygen they need leaving you feeling very tired and making every activity effortful. Anemia may also affect your ability to concentrate or create a brain fog. It may 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.
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 intestinal malabsorption can make it difficult for men, women and even children to absorb these critical nutrients required for 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.
If your doctor has told you you don’t have anemia but you are experiencing the symptoms of anemia outlined above, there are several questions to be asking your doctor. The first is are your B12/folic acid values in the low normal range? What is your iron level? What is your percent oxygen saturation rate (can your cells actually carry oxygen to tissues).
Researchers agree that there is a considerable population who experience all the symptoms of anemia when in the low normal range with their B12/folic acid. If iron isn’t checked, your B12/folic acid may look normal but you may have iron deficiency anemia. Beyond this, there are other concerns that should be raised. Are your copper levels adequate? Most doctors do not check for copper levels or vitamin C levels.
Finally, your fatigue may not be anemia or depression. It may be a subclinical thyroid issue. With breads now being manufactured with bromine and people migrating to sea salt and kosher salt, iodine deficiency is silently impacting energy without necessarily impacting T3 or T4 numbers adequately enough to be detected with standard thyroid testing.
Many people living with fatigue do not realize they have anemia. They certainly never imaging they might be iodine deficient. All of these simple blood tests are generally covered by insurance and, are verily easily treated once identified as abnormal. If you have symptoms of anemia but are not checked for all these conditions in your blood testing, you may have actually missed the cause of your symptoms!