Anemia is the most common blood disorder that occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that helps move oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body.
There are several types of anemia, each of which has its own cause. The most common cause of anemia is lack of iron in the body. This type of anemia is called iron-deficiency anemia.
While some types of anemia, such as those that are inherited, cannot be prevented, you can prevent anemia caused by iron deficiency, or folate and vitamin B12 deficiency by ensuring an adequate intake of these vitamins and mineral in your diet. Here are a few simple things you can do to prevent the anemia.
1. Eat more iron-rich foods
Make sure you get sufficient amount of iron through your diet. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 8 milligrams (mg) per day for men and 18 mg per day for most adult women. Pregnant women should get 27 mg, while elderly adults who are over 50 or lactating women should get 8-9 mg.
Foods that are rich in iron include eggs, red meat, poultry, shellfish, dried fruits, beans, peas, and dark green leafy vegetables. Iron from animal sources is easily absorbed by our bodies than iron from plant sources. That is why iron deficiency anemia is more common among vegetarians or vegans.
2. Get enough vitamin B12 and folate in your diet
Since anemia can also be caused by a lack of vitamin B12 and folate, which are essential nutrients for making healthy red blood cells. So, getting enough of these nutrients can help you prevent this form of anemia.
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, egg yolk, and milk. While folate can be found in beans, peas, lentils, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, and brussels sprouts.
3. Increase your vitamin C intake
Vitamin C can help the body absorb iron more efficiently, so be sure to consume foods containing this vitamin or by taking a vitamin C supplement to minimize the risk of anemia. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, kiwis, guavas, mangoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes.
4. Do not drink coffee or tea at mealtimes
If you have iron deficiency anemia, avoid drinking coffee or tea with your meals as they contain polyphenols and tannins, which can interfere with iron absorption.
5. Cook using iron pots
There is some evidence that cooking in a cast-iron skillet can add significant amounts of iron to your foods. The acid in foods seems to pull some of the iron out of the cast-iron cookware.
Simmering acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, in an iron pot can increase the iron content of the brew more than ten-fold. Cooking foods containing other acids, such as lemon, lime juice or vinegar, in an iron pot can also increase the iron content of the final mixture.