Iron Deficiency Anemia


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What is iron deficiency anemia?

Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, all your organs need oxygen to survives. When your body doesn’t have enough of these red blood cells, it is called Anemia. There is a protein in your blood that help in carrying oxygen in the red blood cells, this protein is called haemoglobin, your body needs iron to make haemoglobin. Lack of iron in the body leads to reduced haemoglobin and reduced haemoglobin synthesis, this leads to a type of anaemia that we call iron deficiency anemia.

In iron deficiency anemia, your body will lack oxygen, which makes you feel tired, you may experience shortness of breath and tiredness. Usually the fastest way to relieve iron deficiency anemia is by taking life-changing iron supplements.

Causes of iron deficiency anemia
Different factors may cause iron deficiency anemia, like diet, diseases, pregnancy. Let’s talk more about them:

Diet: Your body gets iron from foods that you consume, if you don’t consume iron rich foods(we would talk about that in a minute), over time your body may become iron deficient. Recommend dietary intake of iron
women aged 19-50 years: 18mg daily
pregnant women: 27mg daily
Men: 8mg daily

Pregnancy: In pregnancy, the volume of the blood increases, this creates an increased demand for iron in the body. Most pregnant women are iron deficient and therefore need efficient  iron supplements to meet up to the demand. The pregnant mother also has to serve her fetus iron for haemoglobin synthesis.

Inability to absorb iron: iron absorption occurs in the small intestines. Certain Diseases like: celiac’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease: crohn’s disease and ulcerative collitis. Surgeries like gastric bypass where some parts of the small intestine is removed surgically may affect the absorption of iron. Some medications that maybe used to lower stomach acid may reduce absorption of iron.

Blood loss: Blood contains iron in it so if you lose blood, you lose iron along. Women who have heavy periods have higher risk of developing iron deficiency anemia due to blood loss during menstruation. Colorectal cancer, hiatal hernia, uterine fibroids, peptic ulcer may cause gradual blood loss which may eventually lead to iron deficiency anemia. Drugs like aspirin may cause intestinal bleeding which may lead to iron deficiency anemia

Who is at risk of getting iron deficiency anemia?

Different groups of people are more at risk of getting iron deficiency anemia:

1. Women: women lose blood during menstruation. This puts them at a very high risk of developing iron deficiency anemia: according to The World Health Organisation, 500 million women of reproductive age are anemic .

2. Infants and children: infants who don’t get enough iron from their mother’s breast milk or milk formula are more at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia. Also, infants who were born prematurely or had low birth weight are at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia. During the growth of a child, a healthy diet is highly recommended, if the child isn’t eating a healthy diet, the child may be at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia.

3. Blood donors: Blood donation can reduce iron stores. People who frequently donate blood can be at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia.

4. Vegetarians: meat and some of its products are very rich in iron, so people who don’t eat meat may be at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia.

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Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is usually mild and may go un-diagnosed but the more iron deficient you are, the more the symptoms worsen, some signs are:

Brittle nails,
Dizziness or light-headedness
Pale skin or yellow skin
Cold hands and feet
Shortness of breath
Chest pain,
Fast heart beat

Treatment and prevention

Treat iron deficiency by taking relentlessly efficient iron supplements and vitamin c. Vitamin c helps the body to absorb iron. Taking the two together will boost your iron levels remarkably.


You can consume more iron-rich foods to prevent iron deficiency anemia

Beef, turkey, chicken, liver

Peas: black-eyed beans, lima beans and pinto beans

Leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, broccoli, tulip greens

Iron- fortified foods: pastas, cereals, bread.

Dried fruits: prunes, apricots, and raisins,

Note: your body absorbs iron from meat faster than it absorbs iron from any other sources, so if you have chosen to go on a plant-based diet or to go without eating meat, you have to increase consuming vegetables that are high in iron. In order to meet up with the recommended dietary intake

Prevention of iron deficiency anemia

In infants and children,: the world health organisation required mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least 6-months. This helps to keep the baby’s iron levels at the adequate levels. You can also give your infant iron fortified formula milk. After 6- months of life, you can feed your baby purees of foods rich iron or iron fortified cereal.

Vitamin C known to increase iron absorption, therefore, consuming foods high in vitamin C along with foods rich in iron will help increase the absorption of iron. Foods rich in vitamin c are: oranges, lemons, strawberries, melons, broccoli, tangerines, tomatoes, grapefruit.


Iron deficiency anemia is very prevalent It is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. if not treated, it may lead to complications. If you experience any of the symptoms of iron deficiency, You can contact your doctor to know what to do, he/she would most likely direct you to take a highly effective  iron supplements and a highly effective vitamin C supplement. There are also limited vegetable iron supplements and vegetable vitamin c supplement on the market. Your doctor may also advice you to start eating iron-rich foods.

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