Iron deficiency anemia is the most frequent nutritional deficiency in the United States as well as worldwide.
It occurs when individuals have a reduced level of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the protein which is responsible for transporting oxygen to tissues.
If someone has fewer red blood cells than normal, the tissues and organs won’t get as much oxygen as they commonly would (and need).
Iron is an essential mineral and a part of numerous enzymes that are used in a variety of cell functions.
In addition, these enzymes help the human body to digest foods as well as with numerous other vital reactions which occur within the human body.
- malabsorption is when the body can’t absorb sufficient iron from food. Also, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and Ibuprofen) can cause bleeding in the stomach, and lead to this type of anemia;
- monthly periods – about 5 percent of women of childbearing age develop IDA due to heavy bleeding during their periods;
- inflammatory bowel diseases (like – Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis) and gastrointestinal disorders (like – celiac disease);
- being pregnant – this condition affects approximately one in six pregnant women because the body needs more iron during pregnancy to support the unborn baby’s development.
- Irregular heartbeats – if the patient doesn’t have sufficient hemoglobin, then the heart has to work harder to carry oxygen-rich blood through the body.
- Extreme fatigue – it occurs since the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to transport the much-needed oxygen to its many parts.
- Restless leg syndrome – according to John Hopkins Medicine, approximately 15 percent of individuals with this syndrome have IDA. Also, the lower the iron levels, the worse the signs and symptoms.
- Pale skin – hemoglobin gives the blood its red color, therefore, the skin its rosy hue. This actually means that low levels of hemoglobin can change the color of the skin.
- Getting sick all the time – this mineral has a vital role in the immune system, hence, lower levels of iron can make a sufferer of IDA more susceptible to colds and flu.
- Shortness of breath.
- Painful open sores on the corners of the mouth.
- Leg cramps.
- Hearing sounds which come from inside the body.
- Poor appetite, particularly in children and infants with IDA.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Low blood pressure, mainly when going from sitting to standing.
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, like – dirt, clay or chalk. This is a condition known as pica.
- Brittle nails.
- Soreness of the tongue.
- Cold feet and hands.
Note – If your IDA has developed over an extended period of time, you may not notice any signs and symptoms.
Iron Deficiency Anemia – Spiritual Meaning
The sufferer usually has the attitude of “Yes … but …” Also, the person:
- feels unfulfilled;
- has lost the joy of living and has trouble accepting her life;
- devaluates herself;
- experiences feelings of sadness, anger, or fear;
- criticizes herself a lot;
- gets easily discouraged;
- often lets others control her life.
According to the latest research, this condition may also occur when the person in question refuses to use her talents for the benefit of others.
In order to improve this type of anemia and general health, it is recommended to consume the following foods – chickpeas, dark leafy greens (especially Swiss chard and spinach), lentils, red kidney beans, dried peaches, navy beans, lima beans, sesame seeds, mung beans, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, adzuki beans, apricots, raisins, prunes, soybeans, amaranth, green peas, oatmeal, oat bran, papayas, and mangoes.
Avoid Dairy Products
Cow’s milk not only contains little of this essential mineral, but it can also irritate the intestinal lining causing chronic blood loss as well as it can notably reduce the absorption of iron.
Avoid Foods With Gluten
For people diagnosed with celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder), eating foods containing gluten could damage the intestinal wall, thus, preventing important nutrients like iron and folate from being properly absorbed. Foods high in gluten include – bread, pasta, crackers, baked goods, granola, and some cereals.
Intaking caffeine from foods or drinks can also reduce the absorption of iron. It is recommended to avoid caffeine within about 60 minutes before consuming an iron-rich meal.
Avoid drinking tea with iron-rich meals as it can reduce the amount of iron which is absorbed.
Eating foods rich in vitamin C in conjunction with foods high in iron can go a long way toward reversing or preventing IDA since vitamin C has an essential role in the absorption of this mineral in the intestines.
Foods high in vitamin C include – grapefruit, broccoli, kale, spinach, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, oranges, tamarinds, watermelon, cantaloupe, sweet peppers, cayenne pepper, clementines, tangerines, lemons, limes, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, or currants.
Other nutrients that boost the absorption of non-heme iron include – folate (also known as vitamin B9), vitamin B12, and zinc.