Iron deficiency Anemia is the most common form of nutritional deficiency in India. It refers to a state in which the level of hemoglobin in the blood is below the normal range. The normal range of hemoglobin is:
- Men: 13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter
- Women: 12.0 to 15.5 grams per deciliter
- Kids(6 yrs to 18 yrs): 10.0 to 15.5 grams per deciliter
Some commonly experienced symptoms of iron deficiency Anemia are tiredness, lethargy, breathlessness, getting pale skin, swollen tongue, headaches, and ankle or foot swelling.
A complete blood count test can quickly diagnose iron deficiency anemia
- Hemoglobin is low: A low hemoglobin could indicate any of the several types of anemic conditions. To accurately diagnose iron deficiency anemia, the following metrics are to be assessed with a doctor.
- Erythrocyte indices are low: MCV Less than 83 fl and MCHC less than 32g/dl
- Measuring white blood cells: Usually within the normal range
- Serum iron & Ferritin levels is low
- Peripheral smear: Red blood cells appear small and pale
Post-Menopausal women should undergo an investigation of the upper and lower Gastrointestinal tract by Endoscopy to rule out any bleeding ulcers in esophagus and stomach.
Depending on the severity of the deficiency, there are different ways to manage it
- Dietary intake of iron-rich food
- Removing the underlying clinical cause of iron deficiency
- Oral iron supplementation: Fulfilling the iron requirements through diet should always be the number #1 priority but certain medical conditions/allergies or severe iron deficiency may require you to use supplements for a specified period of time. Please consult a doctor to learn more.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: the physiological demand for iron is increased in these conditions. The baby derives all its nutrients from the mother while in the womb as well as during breastfeeding. In these conditions, if the diet is not well balanced with sufficient amount of iron, the mother can end up being iron deficient.
- Adolescent girls: Their often inconsistent and restricted diet along with the growth spurt puts them at risk
- Women of childbearing age: Women with excessively heavy Menstrual periods are at risk.
Understanding Iron deficiency Anemia
Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, a protein present in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin in the red blood cells picks up oxygen in the lungs, drives it through the blood and drops it off to the tissues in the body, and from there it picks up carbon dioxide and drives it back to the lungs, where it is exhaled.
- If the body doesn’t have sufficient stores of iron, it is known as iron deficient, only when the symptoms start to appear it is termed as iron deficiency anemia.
- It is a condition where body stores of iron are so low that not enough normal red blood cells can be made to carry oxygen to various parts of the body.
Diet rich in Iron:
- Eating a diet rich in iron is key to eliminating this deficiency. Our body absorbs iron two or three times more from animal sources of food than from plant sources.
- Iron-rich animal food sources are turkey, chicken, fish, lean beef.
- Iron-rich plant sources are green leafy vegetables like spinach, kidney beans, lentils, fortified breakfast cereals
PS: The iron absorption from plant food sources are lower but by adding a source of Vitamin C to the diet, the total absorption of iron can be enhanced.
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