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What is Anemia?

Since RBCs oxygenate the body, when a person is anaemic, their heart has to work harder to pump the quantity of blood needed to get adequate oxygen around their body. Anaemia isn’t a disease in itself, but a result of a malfunction somewhere in the body. This blood condition is common, particularly in females as they lose blood during their menstrual cycle every month.

Red blood cells explained


Blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. Each red blood cell contains a protein called haemoglobin. This protein gives red blood cells their characteristic red colour. Oxygen molecules attach themselves to haemoglobin. The body’s cells need oxygen to live and perform their various duties.

The bone marrow needs enough dietary iron and some vitamins to manufacture haemoglobin. If you do not consume enough iron in your diet, the red blood cells will not be able to carry oxygen around the body effectively.

Causes of anaemia


Anaemia can have many causes, including:

Symptoms of anaemia


Depending on the severity, the symptoms of anaemia may include:

Groups at high risk


Certain people are at increased risk of anaemia, including:

Diagnosis of anaemia


Depending on the cause, anaemia is diagnosed using a number of tests including:


Treatment for anaemia


Treatment depends on the cause and severity, but may include:

Take iron supplements only when advised by your doctor. The human body isn’t very good at excreting iron and you could poison yourself if you take more than the recommended dose.

Prevention of anaemia


Some forms of anaemia can’t be prevented because they are caused by a breakdown in the cell-making process. Anaemia caused by dietary deficiency can be prevented by making sure that certain food groups are consumed on a regular basis, including dairy foods, lean meats, nuts and legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables. Vegetarians who prefer not to eat any dairy foods (vegans) should consider taking vitamin and mineral supplements regularly.

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