The Role of Iron in Blood Health: How Iron Deficiency Leads to Anemia

The Role of Iron in Blood Health: How Iron Deficiency Leads to Anemia

Hey there our curious reader! Ever wondered what gives our blood that vibrant red colour? Well, it’s all thanks to a superhero in our bodies called “Haemoglobin”. Haemoglobin is the red carpet of our circulatory system, rolling out to ensure oxygen reaches every corner of our body. But here’s the twist: not everyone’s body has enough iron to produce this star-studded haemoglobin show. In fact, according to the National Family Health Survey in India, when it comes to adolescents aged 15 to 19 , girls are facing a bit of a “red alert” with anaemia prevalence ranging from 55.8% to 59.1%. Boys, though not entirely immune, have a prevalence of 30.2% to 31.1%. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that many young people worldwide are dealing with iron – deficiency anemia. This includes 40% of young children (6 – 59 months old) , 37% of pregnant women, and 30% of women aged 15-49. This is a significant health issue that needs our attention (Source). 

What is Anemia?

Anemia is a medical condition where you have insufficient red blood cells, which are vital for carrying oxygen to your body's tissues. When you don't have enough red blood cells, it means there's not enough oxygen in your blood. Anemia can vary in severity from mild to severe.

The severity of anaemia is determined by the concentration of hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that plays a crucial role in carrying oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. The production of hemoglobin relies on an adequate supply of iron, which is why most individuals with anemia suffer from an iron deficiency.

There are various types of anemia, each with its specific causes and treatments. The extent of anemia can vary based on hemoglobin levels, but adopting a nutritious diet can help in its prevention.

What are the Causes of Anemia?

Numerous factors can lead to anemia, ranging from basic dietary deficiencies to more complex underlying causes. Here are some common underlying factors that contribute to anemia:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Pregnancy-related anaemia
  • Active bleeding like piles, ulcers
  • Chronic diseases such as cancer, kidney diseases
  • Genetic problem
  • Drug-induced anaemia

What are the Types of Anemia?

There are several types of anemia, each with its own underlying causes and characteristics. Based on Indian clinical picture, 

  1. Iron deficiency anemia – This is a prevalent type of anemia that tends to affect women more frequently than men and is particularly common during pregnancy. In this form of anemia, the body lacks sufficient iron to effectively transport oxygen throughout the bloodstream to all bodily tissues.
  2. Vitamin deficiency anemia – This type of anemia is a blood disorder that causes your bone marrow to make abnormally large red blood cells. This condition happens when you don’t get enough vitamin B12 and/or vitamin B9 (folate).
  3. Pernicious anemia – Pernicious anemia, one of the causes of vitamin B12 deficiency, is an autoimmune condition that prevents your body from absorbing vitamin B12
  4. Hemorrhagic anemia – This type of anemia occurs due to excessive loss of blood
  5. Hemolytic anemia - Hemolytic anemia is a blood disorder that makes your red blood cells break down or die faster than your body can replace them with new blood cells. People may develop hemolytic anemia due to genetic conditions that cause anemia. 
  6. Aplastic anemia - In this type of anemia, the body's ability to generate an adequate number of red blood cells is reduced due to damage to the bone marrow.

Among the various types of anemia, the most prevalent is iron deficiency anemia, and its symptoms typically include the following:

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Giddiness
  • Increased heartbeats
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hair fall
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor concentration

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How to Prevent Anemia?

Preventing anemia involves maintaining a balanced diet, adopting healthy lifestyle habits, and addressing any underlying medical conditions that may contribute to the condition. Some simple preventive measures can help you and your family avoid anemia.

  1. Oral iron supplementation is widely regarded as an effective treatment option, thanks to its cost-effectiveness, ease of use, and convenience. Nonetheless, its efficacy is most prominent in individuals with mild anemia or non-pregnant women, as the limited intestinal absorption rate of iron restricts its suitability for severe cases.
  2. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in iron, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and other essential nutrients from sources like spinach, palak, collard greens, swiss chard, soybeans, eggs, lentils, almonds, cashews, pistachios, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds is crucial for preventing anemia. 

Here's a brief overview of how lean meat, poultry, and seafood help prevent anemia:

  1. Rich in Heme Iron,  easily absorbed by the body, crucial for hemoglobin and red blood cell production.
  2. Abundant in Vitamin B12: Red meat, pork, and seafood like salmon, it's vital for red blood cell formation.
  3. Folate (Vitamin B9): While lean meats have some, certain seafood like tuna and salmon also contain folate, necessary for red blood cell production.
  4. Protein and Amino Acid: These foods provide high-quality protein, essential for overall health and red blood cell formation.

Pro Tips: Eating foods high in iron along with vitamin C is like a team effort for your body. Vitamin C helps convert iron into a more absorbable form, increasing the overall availability of iron for the body. This combination is especially beneficial for individuals looking to improve their iron status and prevent anemia. 

Including these foods in your diet, along with other nutrient-rich options, helps prevent anemia. (Source)

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The Co Being Green Matters - The unique blend of veggies, greens and fruits helps to balance the daily nutritional needs of the body, which in turn boosts the metabolism and keeps you energetic throughout the day.

Key Takeaway:

  1. Anemia is a medical condition characterized by a deficiency of red blood cells, leading to lower oxygen levels in the blood. 
  2. Most cases of anemia are caused by iron deficiency, which is essential for hemoglobin production—a protein responsible for carrying oxygen in red blood cells. 
  3. Various factors, including poor nutrition, pregnancy, bleeding disorders, chronic diseases, genetics, and medications, can contribute to anemia. 
  4. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia with symptoms like fatigue, paleness, shortness of breath, lack of energy, poor concentration and hairfall.
  5. To prevent anemia, individuals can consider strategies such as oral iron supplementation (under medical guidance as necessary) and consuming a diet rich in iron, folate, vitamin B12, and other essential nutrients. Foods like leafy greens, lean meats, poultry, seafood, nuts, and seeds can help maintain healthy iron levels. 

For further guidance on choosing the right supplements to keep your hemoglobin levels in check, Book your FREE CONSULTATION with our Expert Dr! or WhatsApp us on +91 9500775666 to schedule your consultation right away!

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