Anaemia is a still a serious problem and is present when:-
- your levels of Hb -haemoglobin (the protein that transports iron and oxygen) are low
- you have fewer healthy Red Blood Cells (RBC) that contain haemoglobin
- you have RBC that may be smaller and paler than usual
If you have low iron and fewer RBC you will be getting less oxygen to your cells which can lead to cell damage, poor mental function, low energy and even cancer.
If you also have low Ferritin then that shows that you are not storing sufficient iron in the body and this could be due to low levels of nutrients required to make healthy RBC or you may be losing too many from the body.
If you have high Ferritin in the body then it may indicate an Anaemia of chronic disease or an inflammatory response where the body is in defense mode and storing more iron and this is why Anaemia should never be treated before knowing the cause. To take an iron supplement without a diagnosis from a Doctor can be dangerous.
As a Nutritionist I am concerned as I would have thought that Anaemia should have declined with rising standards of living, more protein in our diets and better knowledge of nutrition generally but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I know personally of three people, ages from 7 to 40, on good diets, who have anaemia with low Ferritin levels that partially respond to iron supplementation but their Ferritin levels remain low. This would suggest that other factors are missing in their diet that convert the iron into the correct form for re-use and storage. I believe this could be due to missing micro-nutrients in both the food consumed and modern choices in diet that limit the intake of iron, copper and zinc and possibly Vitamin B12. Skip to the section on Treatment for iron deficiency Anaemia if you already know about anaemia in general and would like to know more about micro-nutrient deficiency.
Facts and Figures
Normal levels Hb are
Men 13.5 to 17.5 gm/dL
Women 12.0 to 15.5 gm/dL
Children 11.0 to 13 gm/dL
*30% of the World Population has iron deficiency Anaemia
* there are over 1 million deaths a year from Anaemia
* according to a recent study in The Lancet Anaemia is 3rd on the list of medical problems that cause suffering and more Years Lived with Disability(YLD) coming higher than Diabetes that is in 7th place.
So Anaemia is a serious condition and should be viewed as a symptom rather than a disease in itself.
Signs and Symptoms of possible Anaemia Read More