Anemia symptoms, causes and diet

Anemia Free India

Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) celebrates Dietetics Day nationwide every year on 10th January to promote awareness regarding appropriate diet, nutrition and good health in the community. 

The association plays an important role in promoting wellness of the population by creating awareness on healthy eating with an emphasis on preventive nutrition and management of diseases.

Blood contains blood plasma (fluid matrix) in which RBC (Red blood cells), WBC (white blood cells) and Platelets swim. RBC contain oxygen-carrying a protein called HEMOGLOBIN, which further is divided into heme and globulin, heme consists of iron which binds to oxygen. And therefore.

RBC is the oxygen carrying protein.  Assume RBC to be a vehicle in which hemoglobin is the driver and the commuters are Oxygen and Carbon dioxide. Further simplifying it, when we inhale, Oxygen molecules bind to the RBCs present in the lungs, these RBCs travel through the rest of the body and delivers Oxygen to the tissues and takes a long carbon dioxide and returns back to the lungs, this carbon dioxide is then exhaled out of the lungs.

Anemia is one of the biggest issue India facing. The total prevalence of anemia is around 40% in India, according to Globaldata epidemiologists. It is a condition in which a person lacks sufficient healthy hemoglobin, the substance carrying oxygen in red blood cells. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen.

Symptoms may include;

  • Shortness of breath (because the lungs try to gain the maximum amount of oxygen to meet the demands of the body)
  • Profuse sweating
  • Pale skin (individual appears to be fairer as there is low RBC)
  • Tiredness (Physical activity such as walking, climbing up stairs etc. Demand more oxygen to the muscles, when they are a failure inadequate oxygen supply leads to fatigue)
  • Drowsiness (Brain is deprived of adequate amount of oxygen)
  • Weakness

Anemia goes undetected in many people and symptoms can be minor.

There are different forms of this condition – the main types are caused by a lack of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid. These are needed to help the body produce red blood cells. If the body is deficient in these vitamins, the risk of developing the condition is increased. 

  • A nutrition professional will be able to give you advice and support, discussing your dietary habits and creating a meal plan tailored to your body. This meal plan will consist of iron-rich foods such as eggs, brown rice, meat, and green leafy vegetables. 
  • Some of the best Iron-rich foods are Beans and lentils, Tofu, Baked potatoes, Cashews, Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Fortified breakfast cereals, Whole-grain and enriched breads.
  • To prevent and treat a folate or vitamin B12 deficiency, a nutrition professional will advise a balanced diet that contains folic acid or vitamin B12 rich foods.
  • Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. Vitamin B12 is generally not present in plant foods, but fortified breakfast cereals are a readily available source of vitamin B12.

Normal Hemoglobin Level Chart

Birth:13.5 to 24.0 g/dl (mean 16.5 g/dl)
<1 mth:10.0 to 20.0 g/dl (mean 13.9 g/dl)
1-2 mths:10.0 to 18.0 g/dl (mean 11.2 g/dl)
2-6 mths:9.5 to 14.0 g/dl (mean 12.6 g/dl)
0.5 to 2 yrs:10.5 to 13.5 g/dl (mean 12.0 g/dl)
2 to 6 yrs:11.5 to 13.5 g/dl (mean 12.5 g/dl)
6-12 yrs:11.5 to 15.5 g/dl (mean 13.5)
Age 12-18 yrs:12.0 to 16.0 g/dl (mean 14.0 g/dl)
Age >18 rs:12.1 to 15.1 g/dl (mean 14.0 g/dl)
12-18 yrs:13.0 to 16.0 g/dl (mean 14.5 g/dl)
>18 yrs:13.6 to 17.7 g/dl (mean 15.5 g/dl)