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It is hard to believe that America, a country with one of the highest standard living in the world having over 20 million people with the disease of anemia caused by unhealthy diet, and nutritional deficiency with protein and fat intake 30% more than any other country in the world. Most people understand that anemia is caused by iron deficiency in the bloodstream but in reality anemia is characterized by deficiency in the hemoglobin of the red blood cells diminishing the ability of the blood to transport oxygen to our cells and to removing carbon dioxide. In this article, we will discuss types of anemia.
II. Types of anemia
1. Genetically passed through
Anemia is a genetic disease passing through from generation to generation.
i) Thalassmia minor
It is the most common anemia in people of the Mediterranean descent. This is the mild case of anemia. The blood cell is smaller than normal blood cells and easily die off causing stress for the reproduction of new red blood cells because of not enough new blood cells to replace the loss of red blood cells.
ii) Thalassmia major
Thalassmia major is also called Cooley's anemia. It is an inherited disorder that affects the production of normal hemoglobin. Thalassmia major is a deadly disease without frequent blood transfusions, people with this kind of anemia may not survive because of iron building up in heart and other organs, resulting in heart failure.
b) Aplastic anemia
This is one of the most deadly and rarest case of anemia. For whatever reason, the marrow bone that produces red blood cell does not work properly or it may be caused by an auto-immune disorder resulting in white blood cells attacking the bone marrow.
c) Sickle-celled anemia
This is a serious, life-threatening inherited form of anemia that mostly affects people of African ancestry. Sickle cell anemia is formed of hemoglobin deficiency causing red blood cells to become sticky, stiff, and more fragile resulting in the form of a curve and sickle-shape, restricting the circulation of blood in our body.
2. Deficiency of iron anemia
Iron is the most importance mineral in the blood, working together with zinc and copper to help to increase the oxygen level and circulation of our blood to nurture our body's cells and removing carbon dioxide from the bloodstream. Iron is a hard to be absorbed mineral, without taking together with vitamin C, most iron in our body are wasted.
3 Deficiency of folate acid and vitamin B12 anemia (pernicious anemia)
Folate acid and vitamin B12 is vital for the reproduction of red blood cells caused by excessive drinking of alcohol and certain intake of certain medication such as oral contraceptive or anticancer drug. People eating only cooked foods have a highest risk of deficiency of folate and vitamin B12 anemia.
4. Chronic blood loss anemia
This type of anemia is resulted from a variety of chronic conditions such as hemorrhoids, cancer, menstruation and peptic ulcers.
5. Hemolytic anemia
In this case, the destruction of old red blood cells exceeds the production of new ones caused by the defective hemoglobin synthesis or trauma within the arteries, or caused by antibodies being produced by the immune system damaging red blood cells.
III. Causes of anemia
Hemolysis is an anemia caused by the breaking down of red blood cells as a result of immune reactions, and toxin and poisons. Treatments are hemodialysis or surgery.
2. Decreased red cell production by the bone marrow
Bone marrow is a soft fatty tissue found inside of the body's bones. If bone marrow becomes defective or malfunctions, it causes an abnormality in the production of any of the mature blood cells resulting in decreased production of red blood cells, or the rapid loss of red blood cells.
3. Blood loss
Blood loss can be as a result of very heavy menstrual periods. Women can become anemic if they ignore the needs of their monthly menstruation because their blood rises and falls in a cyclical fashion. Therefore more blood nutrition is needed to counter the loss of blood during menstruation. Certain health issues may also contribute to iron loss, including chronic bleeding of the gums, hemorrhoids, or ulcer and chronic ulcer.
4. Chronic illness or anemia of inflammation
Anemia of inflammation often closely resembles iron-deficiency anemia caused by high levels of ferritin blocking release of iron in the cells into the bloodstream or high levels of transferin binding onto iron. Resent study shows that inflammation also appears to affect other important elements of iron metabolism because inflammation causes the liver to produce morw hepcidin that blocks the ferropotin to release iron.
5. Cancer therapy
6. Excessive alcohol drinking
Alcohol is a stimulant. Excessive alcohol drinking can contribute to vitamin deficiency , anemia, as well as inflammation anemia. It's recommended that men have no more than two drinks a day, and that women limit alcohol intake to one drink daily.
Smoking causes the depletion of oxygen levels in the bloodstream as well as blocking the absorption of vital nutrients, such as folate acid and vitamin C, raising the risk of vitamin deficiency anemia.
IV. Symptoms of anemia
Fatigue is a common symptom of people with anemia which causes less oxygen being transported to the tissues of the body because of low count of red blood cells in bloodstream.
Since the bloodstream cannot provide enough oxygen as well as nutrition to our body tissues, it interferes with normal function of organs resulting in weakness in anemia patients.
3. Fainting and dizziness
Our brain needs protein and fat to function daily. It also needs oxygen to nourish it's cells. Without enough red blood cells to carry oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from it' s cells, it may cause fainting.
4. Shortness of breath
Since there are never enough oxygen in the bloodstream, it causes the reaction of our lung to breath faster so it can get enough oxygen to our body tissues causing shortness of breath.
5. Heart palpitations
People with anemia have less oxygen in their bloodstream. In order to provide enough oxygen to nourish our body's cells, their heart has to work harder resulting in heart palpitation.
6. Pale complexion
Pale complexion is caused by iron deficiency. Iron is vital for our blood cells reproduction for replacing the break down of the old ones. Deficiency of iron causes low red blood cells in the bloodstream resulting in a pale color in our skin.
7. Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty concentrating caused by iron deficiency causes less production of new red blood cells to replace the breaking down of the old ones resulting in less oxygen being delivered to certain regions of the brain cells making concentration difficulty.
8. Excess menstruation
Excess menstruation is characterized by loss of abnormal quantities of blood during menstruation. It is caused by iron deficiency anemia in women as a resulting of massive breaking down of old red blood cells.
V. Prevention and treatment
A. With Foods
Spinach is an essential food for all anemia patients with no kidney health condition (spinach is a highly oxalate vegetable, without taking enough fluids spinach may cause kidney stone, thus spinach should not be taken for people with kidney disease). It contains high amounts of vitamin C and several minerals such as iron, zinc, and copper that helps to increase the formation of red blood cells as well as raising the oxygen level and circulation of blood.
2. Raw broccoli
Broccoli is a vegetable with a variety of nutritional supplements including high amounts of iron, copper, folic acid and vitamin B12 that is vital for people with anemia. Feeding a pregnant women with folic acid deficiency may cause anemia in her child if she has folic acid deficiency. Cooked foods destroy folic acid. People who take blood thinners must consult with their doctor before eating large amounts of broccoli, because it contains high amounts of vitamin K that is needed for underline skin membrane but it also causes the blood to thicken.
Apricot has been used in Chinese folk medicine in treating constipation as well as fighting aging. Apricot contains high amounts of iron and copper that helps to improving the efficiency of oxygen delivery and carbon dioxide removal. Regular intake of apricot also helps the production of hemoglobin in the red blood cells.
Adding garlic in your diet in anemia patients is an excellent choice. Garlic not only helps to strengthen the immune system that is lacked in people with anemia, but also helps to purify our blood by improving the absorption of rich sources of iron as well as aiding the blood's circulation. Garlic is a blood thinner, people taking blood thinners and have ulcers should consult with their doctor before taking large amounts of garlic.
5. Beet juice
Beets contain high amounts of iron and copper that are essential for people with anemia. Besides helping to regulate the production of red blood cells, it also helps to improve the artery's elasticity by dissolving substances sticking to the arterial walls resulting in enhancing blood's capacity to assimilate and transport oxygen and nutrients.
Molasses contain high amounts of iron and copper that are necessary for anemia patients. It also helps to purify your blood by improving the production of hemoglobin.
7. Watercress leaves
Watercress leaves contains easily assimilable forms of organic iron. It also has a variety of amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid and vitamin C. Beside aiding the blood capacity to assimilate and transport oxygen and nutrition, it also is a blood purifier by dissolving the coagulated blood fibrin in piles.
There are many more foods that can help in treating people with mild anemia such as blackberry, blueberry, cherries, and prune juice.
B. With Vitamins and Minerals
Iron is essential for people with anemia. It aids the reproduction of red blood cells as well as improve the transportation of oxygen and nutrition to the body's cell, and removing carbon dioxide from our bloodstream. Since iron is hard to absorb, it is recommended to take the liquid form over the dry form and be sure to take with some vitamin C or most of the iron will be wasted because of poor intestinal absorption. If you are a nursing mother, be sure to check your blood for iron, otherwise iron deficiency will cause iron deficiency to the baby.
2. Copper and zinc
Copper and zinc may not be vital in treating people with anemia, but they are needed in helping our body to absorb iron. With out the balancing of iron, copper and zinc most of the iron's effects will be wasted. Be sure to talk to your doctor for the right amount of iron, zinc and copper before taking any of the above metal. They are toxic if overdosed.
3 Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. It plays an important role to the people with anemia by helping blood clot properly after an injury, which is vital for people with anemia caused by excessive blood loss such as women in childbirth and during menstruation.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to improve the immune system fighting against the invasion of bacteria and virus. Because of poor reproduction and circulation of blood for people with anemia, strengthening the immune system becomes vital. Vitamin C also helps to improve the absorption of iron otherwise most iron intake may be wasted.
5. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is essential for people with pernicious anemia ( vitamin B12 deficiency anemia).
Vitamin b12 deficiency is mostly caused by inadequate absorption, poor diet and medication side effects resulting in large immature and dysfunctional red blood cells thereby decreasing the red blood cell count and hemoglobin levels.
6. Folic acid
Folic acid is in the B vitamin family. It is necessary for the formation and maturation of red blood cells. Folic acid deficiency is caused mostly by poor diet, inadequate body absorption and for people eating only cook foods, resulting in less red blood cell count in the bloodstream or folic acid deficiency anemia.
C. With Supplements
DHEA is the shortened name of dehydroepiandrosterone. It is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands that helps to reduce the level of cytokine inflammation which damages the forming of protein from red blood cells.
Spirulina is rich in iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 which are essential for people with anemia.
It also contains high amounts of vitamin C helping the absorption of iron and strengthening the immune system. Spirulina not only increases the oxygen level in the blood, it also helps to remove carbon dioxide from our cells that are vital for people with nutritional deficiency anemia.
Lactoferrin enhances iron absorption, and protects our body from the negative and oxidative effects of excess iron. It can decrease or eliminate the side effects of nausea and constipation caused by iron supplementation. It also has beneficial effects in regulating the immune system,and anti-inflammatory, antibacterial antiviral and antioxidant effects. Study shows that lactoferrin increases the absorption and utilization of iron, and would be useful in the prevention of iron deficiency anemia.
4. Bee pollen
Bee pollen contains high amounts of protein, B-complex vitamins and folic acid that are vital supplements for anemia patients. It also is believed to improve the digestive process and improve levels of hemoglobin in some anemic patients. It has been used in Chinese medicine for over thousands of years in treating many kinds of chronic illnesses as well as longevity.
5. Hydrochloric acid
For people with megaloblastic anemia due to deficiency of the intrinsic factor such as poor iron and supplement absorption, then intake of hydrochloric acid is necessary. Hydrochloric acid helps the stomach lining to absorb and transport protein to the tissues of the body.
D. With Herbs
1. Dandelion roots
The Dandelion is a biennial plant and grows wild in most of the world. Dandelion contains high levels of iron and B vitamin complex. It has been used in Chinese medication over many generations in treating anemia due to deficiencies of folic acid, iron, and vitamin B12 by increasing the production of hydrochloric acid resulting in better nutritional absorption.
2. Gentian roots
Gentian root has been used for centuries in Europe in treating digestive disorders. The bitter qualities of gentian helps to stimulate the digestive system, making iron and other nutrients easier to be absorbed.
3. Yellow dock
Yellow dock is used in herbal remedies to treat constipation and other digestive issues. It contains high amounts of iron and bioflavonoids. Besides helping to strengthen the capillaries it also helps to enhance our digestive system in absorption of protein, iron and other nutritions that is vital for people with nutritional deficiency anemia.
4. Blackstrap molasses
Blackstrap molasses is the dark liquid byproduct of the process of refining sugar cane into table sugar. Blackstrap molasses contains high amounts of iron and copper that are essential for iron utilization resulting in reproduction of red blood cells as well as circulation of blood that are vital for anemic patients.
Alfalfa contains high amounts of vitamin K which is helpful to promote normal blood clotting and prevent the loss of blood for women with excessive flow in menstruation.
6. Burdock root
Burdock root has long been used to fortify and cleanse the blood. It contains high amounts of iron which is vital for anemia. It also helps to increase the levels of hemoglobin that is diminished for people with anemia.
7. Nettle leaves
Nettle has been used for centuries in treating wounds, and slowing down bleeding and menstrual bleeding. It acts like vitamin K by reducing the excessive flow of blood in menstruation. It also contains high amounts of iron and is said to stimulate the production of hemoglobin.
E. With Chinese herbs
1. Chinese wild yam
Chinese wild yam has the same property of DHEA and acts as a precursor to human sex hormones. extract of Chinese wild yam has been used to treat painful menstruation, hot flashes, and other symptoms due to menstruation. In fact, it also help to reduce the level of pro inflammation cytokines.
2. Cinnamon bark
Cinnamon bark has been historically used as a digestive aid and to promote blood purifier. Cinnamon contains high amount of antioxidants that help to strengthen the immune system function that is vital for people with anemia who use to have a weaken immune system caused by low level of oxygen in the blood.
3. Dang Shen (Codonopsis)
Dang shen has been used in Chinese medicine for more than a century in strengthening immune system against bacteria and virus. It also is a blood enhancer. Dang shen has been used in Chinese medicine as blood purifier as well promoting the production of red blood cells and improving energy.
4. Fu Ling (Poria)
Fu ling is said to cotains the substance that helps to increase the secretion of DHEA, a steriod hormone that helps to deduce the levels of pro inflammation cytokines.
5. Sheng Jiang (Ginger)
Sheng jiang is one of oldest Chinese medicine in promoting of blood circulation, increasing oxyen levels in the bloodstream as well as aiding in the immune system fighting against any inflammation caused by bacteria and virus in oure body. Sheng fiang is a blood thinner, do not take shemg jiang if you have ulcer or take any blood thinner medication.
6. Lu Rong (Hairy Antler)
Lu rong is one of most expensive herb in chinese medicine. Lu rong is a blood tonner. It not only help to increase the production of red blood cell but also help to purify your blood. Lu rong has been used over thousand years in Chinese medicine in treating anemia.
7. Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica Roots)
Dang qui is a blood purifier. It has been used widely for women after perioa or loss of blood during child birth or other chronic illness. It is said that dang qui not only stimulate the bone marrow in production of blood and red blood cells to replace the blood loss but also to reduce painful menstruation, hot flashes, and other symptoms due to menstruation.
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