Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia exists when the levels of hemoglobin in the blood are lower than:

– 14 g/dl for men, – 12 g/dl for women,
but the reference value for women during pregnancy is 11 g/dl.


Causes of iron deficiency in the blood (also called iron deficiency anemia or sideropenic anemia)

Iron is one of the most important minerals for the body.
There are many causes of iron deficiency. The most common are:

  • Blood loss. This occurs especially in women during the menstrual cycle In addition, diseases such as stomach ulcer (often caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori), colon polyps and diaphragmatic hernia (hiatal hernia) are the cause of chronic, but slowly accompanying blood loss. The result is iron deficiency.
  • Low-iron diet. Some people are unable to absorb an adequate amount of iron, even though they feed on iron-rich foods. This can be caused by a condition such as celiac disease, which prevents the intestine from absorbing nutrients from food.
  • Bypass or removal of the small intestine.
  • Diseases: Tumors such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS and other types of chronic inflammatory diseases that are responsible for the decrease in red blood cell counts.
  • In some cases, the bone marrow becomes unable to make red blood cells.
    This dangerous disease is called aplastic anemia.
  • Intestinal worms and pinworms can cause anemia because they absorb the nutrients.
  • Hemoglobin defect: sickle cell anemia, thalassemia.
  • Hemolytic anemia occurs when red blood cells are destroyed faster than they are formed.
  • Pregnancy and some medications, for example for chemotherapy.
  • Older people are more likely to suffer from anaemia than young people due to malnutrition or disease.

There are three main types of anemia:

1. Macrocytic, hyperchromic anemia (pernicious and due to folic acid deficiency)

It is also known as megaloblastic anemia and occurs when the erythrocytes take an abnormal shape, but the hemoglobin remains normal in concentration.
In macrocytic anemia, the mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is over 94 fl.
The lack of vitamin B12 or folate alters DNA synthesis and causes the premature death of red blood cells. The result is a lower number of mature erythrocytes,
There is an imbalance in the synthesis of RNA and DNA.
Nuclear functions and cell division are impaired.

This type of anemia weakens the immune system and the body’s defenses because it reduces the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells) that produce the antibodies.
People who have had part of their stomach or small intestine removed may have trouble absorbing vitamin B12.

2. Microcytic, hypochromic anaemia (sideroblastic or microcytic anemia)

In this type of anemia, too small erythrocytes are formed and the concentration of hemoglobin is reduced. Hypochromia can also occur when the cells are of normal size. The main causes may be peptic ulcer and bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract provoked by angiodysplasias.
In microcytic hypochromic anemia, the mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is less than 80 fl.

Pregnant or menstruating women are at risk of suffering from this type of anemia. During pregnancy and lactation, metabolic requirements reduce the iron in the body.
Diseases of iron metabolism, the synthesis of porphyrin and heme or the synthesis of globin can lead to hypochromic anemia.
To prevent or treat this, foods high in content of:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin C,
  • Copper.

Appropriate levels of copper in the blood are vital for the transport of iron throughout the body, and vitamin C helps considerably in the absorption of iron.
One should avoid foods and substances that prevent the body’s absorption of iron, such as:

  • Tea
  • coffee and other caffeinated beverages,
  • Whole grain products,
  • too much milk and dairy products,
  • Antacids.

3. Normochromic, normocytic anemia (aplastic, post-hemorrhagic, hemolytic, chronic, sickle cell disease)

In this type of anemia, destruction/depletion of normal or mature red blood cells occurs. The size of these cells and the hemoglobin contained are normal, only the number is insufficient. If it is not diagnosed in time, it can lead to cardiovascular collapse (blood pressure-related heart attack).
It can make conditions worse, such as:

  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • cerebrovascular in nature.

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia in children

Infants have about 500 mg of iron in the body. As they grow up and approach adulthood, they need about 5000 mg of iron for proper functioning of the organs.
Children need to absorb about 10 mg of iron through food per day. In children, some symptoms of iron deficiency may be:

  • General weakness
  • Strange cravings, especially for non-edible things (ice, paper, circles, etc.)
  • Drop in concentration
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slower growth
  • Dark feces with traces of blood – if the anemia is caused by intestinal bleeding
  • Brittle nails
  • Itching on the skin
  • Yellowish eyes
  • Pale skin color
  • Slow development of motor skills
  • Chronic irritability

These symptoms indicate iron deficiency, which parents should have examined in the children. After the presentation to the doctor, a correct therapy must begin immediately to avoid permanent damage.

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia in women

In pregnant women, the symptoms must be carefully monitored, as they need three times more iron than others (recommended dietary intake is 27 mg per day).
These are some symptoms that indicate decreased iron levels in women:

  • Skin pallor
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath during gymnastics
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Anorexia
  • Brittle nails
  • Slow healing after injuries
  • Excessive menstrual period
  • Unusual cravings

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia in men

In men, symptoms of iron deficiency may be:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Listlessness
  • Poor memory
  • Anorexia
  • Leg cramps
  • Vertigo
  • Shortness
  • Swallowing
  • Itch
  • Hair loss

If any of these symptoms occur, the conversation with the doctor should be sought.
In athletes, symptoms of decreased iron can be caused by:

  • a strict diet,
  • excessive sweating,
  • loss of iron through urine,
  • gastrointestinal bleeding.

Diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia

For diagnosis, the following blood tests are required:

  • Complete blood count – in the case of anaemia, the following values are lowered: haemoglobin (Hb) and medium single red blood cell volume (MCV)
  • Ferritin dosage (a protein that contains a significant amount of iron and refers to the amount of iron in the body)
  • Transferrin dosage
  • Values of serum iron
  • Erythrocyte indexes: mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC)

Anemia in pregnancy

Anemia is a common health problem during pregnancy. Since it is a serious condition, complications can occur.

Causes of iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy
The most common cause of this condition is iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency anemia is observed mainly in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. During this period, the child needs red blood cells from the maternal blood for its development.
Women become anemic if they don’t eat the appropriate amount of iron-rich foods to compensate for the destruction of red blood cells.

Folic acid deficiency
Folic acid is a vitamin necessary for the health of the child.
Scientists have observed that the intake of foods containing folic acid during pregnancy can reduce the risk of defects in the child’s brain and spinal cord.

Vitamin B12 deficiency in the body
This vitamin is required for the formation of red blood cells and protein synthesis.
A lack of vitamin B12 is more common in vegetarian women.
Blood loss can provoke anemia in pregnancy.
Some pregnant women may experience gastrointestinal bleeding or bleeding from hemorrhoids, resulting in high blood loss.
The anemia can also be caused by blood loss during and after birth.

What to do? Treatment of iron deficiency anemia

Drug therapy for iron deficiency anemia includes iron supplements or drugs for the diseases that cause the anemia.

the causes of iron deficiency 
The doctor may prescribe some medications or conduct treatments to eliminate the causes of iron deficiency anemia, for example:

  1. birth control pill to reduce blood loss during menstruation;
  2. antibiotics and other drugs used to treat the stomach ulcer (peptic ulcer);
  3. surgical intervention to remove a bleeding polyp, tumor or fibroma.

Natural remedies for iron deficiency anemia

The doctor may recommend over-the-counter iron supplements in the form of tablets.
Iron is also available in liquid form for infants and young children.

Do not take iron supplements together with antacids; these medications can relieve heartburn but also interfere with iron absorption.
Take iron tablets together with vitamin C because this improves iron absorption.
Iron supplements can cause:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • black chair.

Nutrition and diet in iron deficiency anemia

Foods that prevent iron absorption

There are various foods that can negatively affect iron absorption due to some compounds.

Calcium-rich foods
Calcium can prevent iron absorption by heme iron and non-heme iron.
Some calcium-rich foods that can affect iron absorption include:

  • Milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Cheese
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Tofu
  • Figs
  • Rhubarb
  • Turnips.

It has been observed that 50 mg of calcium has a negligible effect on iron absorption.
The intake of 300-600 mg of calcium can significantly inhibit iron absorption.
However, some calcium-rich foods such as fish or figs are important sources of iron.

Phosphorus-rich foods
is also important for keeping bones healthy.
However, it can negatively affect the absorption of non-heme ironing.
Phosphorus is mainly found in:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • whole grain products,
  • Nuts
  • Legumes.

Meat, fish and poultry are excellent sources of heme iron; however, the cooking process lowers the concentration of iron in the food and meat should be avoided as it does not benefit the body.

Coffee and tea Coffee and tea
can interfere with the ability to absorb iron, mainly due to the presence of a compound called tannin.
Tannins are a type of polyphenols that can have a strong inhibitory effect on the uptake of non-heme iron.
Drinks containing tannins are:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Beer
  • Apple juice
  • Berries.

containing oxalate 
Oxalate is a salt or ester of oxalic acid that reduces the absorption of iron in the body. Spinach is a food that contains a lot of non-heme iron, but it also contains oxalates. Therefore, the iron present in spinach is not easily absorbed by the organism. The effect of oxalates can be prevented by eating spinach with foods rich in vitamin C, such as:

  • Orange
  • Broccoli.

In addition to spinach, oxalates can be found in:

  • beetroot,
  • Cabbage
  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Rhubarb
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Oregano.

What to eat?

Iron-rich vegetables
Green vegetables are a rich source of iron, although there are other vegetables high in iron.
Some substances improve iron absorption, for example:

  • Vitamin C,
  • Citric acid.
Ferrous plants(mg/1 cup)
Ripe soybeans, cooked, cooked, without salt8,84
Green soybeans, boiled, drained, cooked, without salt4,50
Canned spinach, drained4,92
Raw spinach0,81
Dried tomatoes5,00
Pumpkin, boiled, drained, cooked, without salt1,4
Beetroot, boiled, drained, cooked, without salt1,15
Swiss chard, boiled, drained, cooked, without salt2,2
Cabbage, boiled, drained, cooked, without salt1,17
Broccoli, boiled, drained, cooked, without salt1,05
Raw broccoli0,64
Frozen asparagus, boiled, drained, cooked, without salt1,01

There are two types of natural nutrition that have shown excellent results:

  • Vegan diet with a raw food content of at least 50% – recommended by the hygienists
  • Blood group diet

Diet and nutrition of hygienists

According to hygienism, the cause of iron deficiency anemia is the accumulation of toxins in the blood.

The orthodox physician recommends:

  • to eat liver,
  • take dietary supplements containing iron, folic acid and vitamins,
  • Transfusions.

This therapy does not help because it does not act on the cause of the problem.
No blood from an external source is needed, one must restore the body’s ability to assimilate and utilize the iron.
Conventional medicine tries to cure the dysfunction of a single organ instead of seeing the body as a whole.

Anemics are often overweight and have eaten in excess for years.
The problem is not the lack of food, but the elimination of toxins produced during the digestion of food of animal origin.
This condition of toxemia decreases the body’s ability to make red blood cells.
People with pernicious anemia and other forms of anemia have a lot of iron stored in their organs that cannot be used.

For this reason, the intake of iron is useless both:

  • as a food supplement,
  • than in nutrition.

The hygienist Shelton has been able to cure many anemia patients with:

  • a fasting cure lasting a few days,
  • a diet based on fruits and raw vegetables.

Hygienism prohibits:

  • foods of animal origin (meat, fish, eggs, dairy products),
  • transformed and sweet foods,
  • fried food or food prepared at high temperatures,
  • stimulating foods and beverages such as tea, coffee and chocolate.

Blood group diet

According to this nutritional theory, the cause of iron deficiency anemia is the reduced utilization of nutrients in the intestine (intestinal malassimilation) caused by:

  • milk and dairy products,
  • cereals containing gluten,
  • Tea

These foods cause inflammation of the digestive system and thus malassimilation.

During pregnancy, it is necessary to check whether the expectant mother suffers from anemia. The doctor may prescribe iron supplements, which have consequences:

  • Indigestions
  • Problems of the fetus.

If women abstain from foods containing milk and gluten during pregnancy, they will hardly suffer from anaemia.

Read more: