Anemia is the most common blood condition in the US. It affects about 3.5 million Americans. Pregnant women, vegetarians, and people with recent history of severe blood loss are most susceptible to the disease. This condition happened when your blood doesn’t have enough hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body. The most common cause of anemia is lack of iron in the body. In fact, our body needs iron to make hemoglobin. Anemia also can be caused by not getting enough folic acid or vitamin B 12. Inherited blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia may also lead to anemia.
While some types of anemia can’t be prevented, such as sickle cell anemia. However, you can prevent iron-deficiency anemia and vitamin-deficiency anemia by ensuring you get adequate of these vitamins and minerals in your diet. Here are some steps that can help you to prevent the anemia:
- Eat more iron rich foods
Iron is available in two forms:
- Heme iron, which are found in animal sources, such as beef, pork, poultry, shrimp, shellfish, and oysters.
- Non-heme iron, which are found in plant sources such as beans, plums, broccoli, spinach, leafy greens, kale, and dried fruits.
The body more easily absorbs heme iron than non-heme iron. That is why iron deficiency anemia is more common among vegetarians and vegans. If you are a vegetarian, consume non-heme iron sources along with foods that high in vitamin C, this will help enhance the absorption of non-heme iron.
- Get enough folic acid and vitamin B-12 in your diet
Since anemia can also occurs due to a lack of folate or vitamin B12, both of which are essential to making healthy red blood cells. So by getting enough folate (folic acid) and vitamin B-12 can help you prevent these forms of anemia. Vitamin B12 is usually found in foods that come from animals. Some of the best sources include organ meats, poultry, fish, and egg yolk. While folate or folic acid can be found in dried or fresh beans, asparagus, corn, spinach, turnip greens, and enriched grains.
- Limit coffee and black tea intake
Limit or decrease the intake of coffee and black tea as they contain polyphenols and tannins, which can interfere with iron absorption. Avoid such liquids if you have iron deficiency anemia.
- Breastfeed you baby in the first year of life
Breast-feeding is the best way to prevent iron deficiency anemia in babies. The iron in breast milk is very well absorbed by babies. Unlike cow’s milk, while it contains as much iron per liter as breast milk, but only a very small proportion is actually absorbed into the body. Therefore, infants who drink cow’s milk in the first year of life are at risk for iron deficiency anemia. If breast-feeding is not an option, or is stopped before 9-12 months, then iron-fortified formulas, which contain added iron, should be given to baby instead of whole cow’s milk.
- Don’t take iron supplements unless advised by your doctor
Taking iron supplements is not recommended for everyone. While women of reproductive age may need small amounts of supplemental iron each month, most other people do not need any iron beyond what they get in their diet. In fact, taking too much of iron supplements can be very dangerous. It can cause serious problems such as abdominal pain, heartburn, constipation and even death. So, ask your doctor before you take these supplements.