Many people suffer from iron deficiency anemia for many years, and it causes several symptoms affecting your health. Unfortunately, most of us are unaware that we have been suffering from anemia until we do blood investigations. So, it is crucial to understand what iron deficiency anemia is. In the Greek language, Anemia signifies “An” which stands for without, while “emia” which means blood.
Why is Blood Important?
Blood is the most crucial substance in our body. This is because:
- It helps transport substances such as nutrients and oxygen around our body and protects us.
- Components of the blood are Plasma, platelets, WBC, and RBC.
- In blood fractionation, the majority of cells are the RBD which gives it the exact color.
- Normal RBC value = 4.5- 6.1 millions cells/microliter
Facts about Anemia That You Should Know:
- The most common form of anemia that affects several individuals is Iron Deficiency Anemia.
- It is the commonest form of nutritional deficiency of anemia
- IDA occurs when you do not have enough iron to make hemoglobin (Hb). When you have fewer RBCs and a low Hb count, you happen to suffer from anemia.
- One-third of the population has the IDA.
- It is not a disease but a feature of physiological disorder and symptom.
RBC is 7 micrometers in diameter; their biconcave disc shape has a larger surface area and they are flexible so that they can move easily through capillaries. It has no nucleus which makes it possible to have more room for O2 and this helps in improving its oxygen and nutrient carrying capacity.
According to WHO, 1.62 billion people suffer from anemia, which is equivalent to a quarter of (24.8%) of the world population. It affects several children and women.
Normal values of Hb
- Men: 13-18gms/dl
- Women:11-15 gms/dl
- 0-6 months = 0.27mg
- 7-12 months = 11mg
- 1-3 years=7 mg /day
- 4-8 years =10 mg
- 9-13 years =8 mg
- 14-18 years =11mg (M), 15 mg (F)
- 19-50 years =8 mg (M),18mg (F)
- After 51 years – 8mg
- Pregnant women =27mg
You can have Anemia when:
- There is a decreased supply of nutritional deficiency, particularly in the people who are strict vegans or malnutrition. Iron vitamin B12 and folic acid and proteins are necessary to be included in your diet.
- When there is an increased demand such as in pregnancy, a lady who is pregnant is feeding two bodies or lactation, and in children who are of growing age as they are in the developmental phase.
- When there is a loss of blood due to peptic ulcer disease, hookworm infestation, a colon polyp or cancer, or gynecology-related conditions.
Let’s talk about the basics
What is Iron?
- It is a tiny mineral.
- Found in red meat and dark green leafy vegetables. In animal sources, it is found in heme form which is easily absorbed; while, in plant sources, it is found in the non-heme form which is difficult to absorb.
- Its main role in the body is the transportation of oxygen from organ to organ and from cell to cell through Red Blood Cells. These organs use iron for the metabolic functioning of cells. Excess iron causes hemochromatosis and too little iron causes IDA.
Symptoms depend on how anemic you are:
- Tired all time despite good nighttime sleep
- Feeling cold all the time
- Hb levels drop
- Shortness of breath (cannot climb the stairs)
- Chest pain which may make you think that you have heart problems.
- Brittle nails
- Hair may become thin or fall out leading to low density or thinning of hair.
- Craving for non-food substances such as ice, sand, and gravel.
Causes of IDA
Causes can be differentiated in the following conditions.
- Insufficient intake, not taking sufficient diet
- Particularly seen in vegans
- Iron is found in red meat and green leafy vegetables.
- Boiling your veggies happens to result in a loss of iron so steam it.
- A lack of intake of iron is the very first cause of iron.
- The patients taking PPI medicines due to heartburn may interact with the IDA.
- Loss of Iron through Bleeding
- Women experiencing heavy periods is a common cause of IDA.
- Gynae problems endometriosis or increase in the thickening of the lining of the womb.
- Severe piles and hemorrhoids
- Colon cancer or colorectal cancer.
These are examples of loss of iron from the body
- Low Absorption of Iron:
So, we have talked about the lack of iron and loss of iron from the body and their cause is the inability to absorb enough iron. If you are taking enough iron and not losing iron from the body but you have a low iron count in the body, the major reason could be that you have low absorption of iron which means the body is not absorbing enough iron that you are taking in.
There are many reasons for the low absorption of iron:
- One of the major reasons will be Bowel conditions, celiac disease
- Malabsorption syndrome.
- IBD Crohn’s disease colitis
- Gastric bypass in case of obesity or by gastric sleeve
Should I get Iron Tested?
The answer to this is YES if you have any of the following symptoms, you should get your blood tested for iron. The symptoms are:
- Pale skin in mucous membrane, lips, conjunctiva, and nail bed
- Mouth: Glossitis, mouth ulcer, Stomatitis
- Tired all the time
- Chest problems
- Shortness of breath
- Brittle nails
- Thin hair
- Cravings for nonfood substances: Pagophagia: PICA: craving for ice.
- Vegetarian or vegan
- Celiac disease
- Family history of anemia
- Gynae issues.
- Restless legs syndrome
So, get started with eating foods rich in iron right away which can keep you healthy. Check for anemia before it’s too late.