Nutritional Cure for Anemia

Bodies need oxygen to live. Oxygen is carried throughout body in the red blood cells in blood. Your body can't make red blood cells without iron. When you lose blood or are not getting enough iron in your diet, you may develop iron-deficiency anemia. This will cause your blood to carry less oxygen to your body, making you tired, weak, cold and unable to think clearly.


It is estimated that one-third of U.S. women are at risk for iron deficiency anemia, and all pregnant women are at risk. Prevention and treatment are really easy. It's all in the food you eat.

It's pretty easy to get enough iron in your diet, but you must know how much iron you need and what foods contain it. Women of childbearing age need about 15 milligrams a day. Post-menopausal women need 10 milligrams. Men also need 10 milligrams, and pregnant women need 30 milligrams a day. It is hard to get that much iron from your diet so most pregnant women are prescribed supplements.

Meat, fish and poultry contain high amounts of iron. About 20 small steamed clams contain 25 milligrams. Three ounces of beef, about three milligrams, and one chicken leg has about 1.2 milligrams. It's easy to see that if you eat a diet rich in meats, you will get the recommended amount of iron. However, if you eat little meat or are a vegetarian, you will have to be much more cautious about the iron in your diet.

Vegetables do contain iron, but bodies cannot absorb the iron in plants as well as the iron in meats because of something called bioavailability. There are two forms of iron with very different levels of bioavailability. The body absorbs heme iron, found in meat, easily. Nonheme iron, found in plants, is not easily absorbed. To help your body absorb nonheme iron, you can include plenty of vitamin C.

There are many ways to include vitamin C with your meals. A tomato has 24 milligrams of vitamin C. Citrus juices, such as orange and pineapple, are also good sources. Read the nutritional facts on the packaging of foods you buy. Potatoes contain vitamin C and iron, making them a good source. Leave the skin on the potato and triple the amount of iron it provides.

It is not a good idea to combine calcium with your iron. The calcium and iron in foods will compete and set you back in your progress, but even worse is when you are taking supplements. Never take your iron supplements with milk. It is best to space your iron and calcium two to three hours apart.

Coffee and tea also have a blocking affect on iron supplements and should be avoided. If you like coffee in the morning, wait until later to take your supplement. Another tip to increase the iron in your diet is to cook your meals in cast-iron pots and pans. It will increase the iron by two to four percent.

If you do suspect you have anemia, your doctor will perform tests to determine the cause. If it is only due to a lack of iron, you can be treated. Be sure to be honest with your doctor. If you cannot get the recommended daily amount of iron in your diet, your doctor will give you supplements.

It is important to remember that nutrition affects your entire body. Poor nutrition will cause you to feel poorly, but healthy nutrition will help you live a long, healthy life.

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