Could I be Anemic? Considerations for Anemia…
Anemia is defined as deficiency of red blood cells/hemoglobin in the blood. It is commonly caused by dietary deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12 and folate (vitamin B9). Anemia is the most common nutrient deficiency, particularly in women.
Signs and symptoms include tiredness, fatigue, low energy, pallor, breathlessness and feeling faint.
Liver is one of the highest sources of iron, vitamin B12 and folate. Make liver pate or disguise it in mince dishes. Animal sources of iron include meat (especially red), seafood and eggs. Plant sources of iron include leafy greens, beetroot, legumes, soy, dried fruit and molasses. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods e.g. meat, seafood, eggs and dairy. Folate is found in a variety of foods including vegetables, legumes and meat. Chlorophyll is molecularly similar to hemoglobin, helping to carry oxygen in the blood. Spirulina, chlorella and green vegetables are rich in chlorophyll.
- Heme and non-heme
Heme iron from animal sources is more easily absorbed than non-heme iron from plant sources. Vegetarians and vegans should be aware.
- Vitamin C
Enhances iron absorption. Sources of vitamin C include kiwifruit, capsicum, tomatoes, broccoli, berries and citrus fruits.
- Phytates/Phytic acid
Naturally occurring in grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. These enzyme inhibitors are plant constituents that prevent germination. Soak and sprout/activate plant foods to increase mineral absorption of iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
Coffee, tea and chocolate are particularly high in these naturally occurring plant constituents, which hinder iron absorption. Drink/eat tannin-rich foods separately from iron-rich foods.
- Insoluble fiber
Excessive intake may bind to iron and inhibit its absorption. Limit bran, psyllium husk and fibrous flours.
Malabsorption conditions often cause deficiencies of all nutrients. Individuals with intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and autoimmune conditions (leaky gut present) are more likely to suffer from anaemia. Common autoimmune conditions are Coeliac disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis).
- Blood Loss
Women of menstruating age are at greater risk of anaemia due to monthly blood loss. Other conditions involving blood loss include accidents or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (stool loss).
In summary, anemia is a multifaceted condition.
Consult with a Naturopath or Nutritionist to determine the cause and choose appropriate natural treatment for your individual case.
Written by Olivia Kennedy ~ Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist & Wellpark Graduate
Follow Olivia – Liv’s Apothecary