Fortifying your diet

Have you been feeling exceptionally tired lately? Or, weak and stressed? Maybe you’ve been looking pale and feeling light-headed. There are a number of reasons why, and one possible answer is that you could be showing signs of mild anemia.

Many people suffer from anemia without realizing it. Anemia, a condition in which the body’s red blood cell count is unhealthily low, can be the result of many different issues in the body. One of the most common reasons for becoming anemic is from iron deficiency.

Due to blood loss from menstruation, women are especially susceptible to iron deficiency.

Vegetarians and vegans also tend to be susceptible to anemia because of the lack of meat and animal products in their diet. Animals and animal products are a main source of iron and vitamin B12, both of which are vital for energy.

Anemia is dangerous because the hemoglobin in red blood cells is necessary to transport oxygen within the body. Decreased red blood cells can result in heart palpitations, low blood pressure and chest pain, among other health problems.

Common symptoms of anemia include moodiness, chronic fatigue, feeling cold and having shortness of breath. People with even mild anemia may find that their energy levels are low and that they feel weak and irritable.

There are several things that you can do to prevent anemia.

Limiting alcohol and eating a well-rounded, balanced diet are important to preventing iron-deficiency anemia.

Anemia is dangerous because the hemoglobin in red blood cells is necessary to transport oxygen within the body. Decreased red blood cells can result in heart palpitations, low blood pressure and chest pain, among other health problems.

Eat lean red meat such as grass-fed beef, as well as free-range whole eggs (including the yolk – the yolk is where all of the nutrients are!), fresh fish and plenty of leafy greens.

Keep in mind that combining certain foods is key for iron absorption. Tea and coffee inhibit iron absorption, so it is best to avoid drinking those beverages while you are eating your iron-rich meal. Vitamin C enhances absorption of iron: for breakfast, eat a bowlful of strawberries alongside your poached egg and iron-fortified multigrain toast.

Iron in vegetables is not as easily absorbed into the bloodstream, so vegetarians and vegans should take special care to eat lots of iron-rich leafy greens on a regular basis. Leafy greens should be properly combined with other foods to enhance absorption.

Try making a salad with a variety of dark leafy greens and top it with orange slices and iron-rich sunflower seeds and raisins for a vegetarian-friendly, iron-enhanced meal.

If you think you might have anemia, consult a doctor. They can advise you on medication, lifestyle changes or blood tests to ensure that you stay strong and healthy.

Anemia can lead to other health problems so it is important to deal with the issue before it becomes something bigger.

Catching anemia early on and treating it will increase energy levels and decrease irritability, as well as helping your body’s systems to function more efficiently.

Sagan Morrow is a freelance writer and editor. Check out her health and wellness blog at www.livingintherealworld.net/healthy.

Published in Volume 65, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 18, 2010)

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