Anaemia is a condition in which there is a deficiency in the size or number of erythrocytes or a decrease in the amount of haemoglobin contained in a blood sample. These terms may seem a bit complicated but they are actually very simple because erythrocytes means red blood cells wherein haemoglobin means the iron-containing substance in red blood cells. It deals with the transportation of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Hence, a decrease in this limits the exchange of oxygen and between the blood and the tissue cells.
Anaemia is very wide and has many different types. Some of which are;
Sickle cell anaemia, Folic acid deficiency anaemia, Haemolytic anaemia, Vitamin B12 anaemia, Iron deficiency anaemia, Pernicious anaemia, Megaloblastic anaemia. So since it’s broad, I will just discuss a few of them briefly to help give you an idea of this disease.
1. Folic Acid Deficiency Anemia
This is observed when having too little folate, (vitamin B9) in your blood, folic acid deficiency anemia follows.
What Causes Folic Acid Deficiency Anemia?
· Malnutrition- the condition wherein the individual have little nutrients in his diet
· Malabsorption- the state arising from abnormality in digestion or absorption of food nutrients (vitamin B9) across the gastrointestinal tract.
Factors that Increase Risk for Folic Acid Deficiency
Eating Overcooked Foods, Consuming a Vitamin-Poor Diet, Heavy Alcohol Drinking, Medical Conditions, and Pregnancy amongst others.
Symptoms of Folic Acid Deficiency Anemia
Feeling Weak and Tired, Feeling Lightheaded, Loss of appetite, Loss of Weight, Having Trouble Concentrating and the list goes on.
Food Sources of Folic Acid
Liver, Yeast, Dried Beans, Peas, and Nuts, Avocado, Citrus Fruit and Juice, Dark Green Vegetables, Spinach, Okra etc. and this is why Gambian dishes such as ‘mbahal’ and ‘plasas’ excellent combinations for people with this type of anemia.
2. Vitamin b12 deficiency anaemia
Vitamin B12 is essential for life because it is important for the maturation of red blood cells. Also, it is essential for the proper functioning of the Nervous System. Megaloblastic anemia (the condition of an abnormally large red blood cell) caused by vitamin B12 deficiency is called Pernicious Anemia. When foods containing in vitamin B12 is consumed; it combines with a protein called the intrinsic factor in the stomach which is absorbed in the small intestines.
Causes of vitamin b12 deficiency anaemia
Auto immune disease: Occurs when antibodies are formed against the cells of stomach which makes the intrinsic factor. This stops the intrinsic factor from attaching to the vitamin B12 and hence the Vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed into our bodies
Gut problems: Some disease that affect the end of the small intestine such as Crohn’s disease (Inflammatory bowel disease). Some conditions of stomach may affect the production of intrinsic factor example gastritis, also, medicines used for other conditions may affect the absorption of vitamin B12 example is the Metformin used by Diabetic patient.
Diet: Strict vegans (animal products are rich in vitamin B12), the elderly, infants whose moms are vegetarians.
Symptoms of vitamin b12 deficiency
Tiredness, Weakness, Constipation, Loss of appetite, Loss of weight, Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
Sources of vitamin b12 deficiency
Found in variety of foods like: Beef (best source), Poultry, Eggs, Fish ALSO, some breakfast cereals like oats, nutritional yeast food products fortified with vitamin B12, Plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless fortified
3. Sickle cell anaemia
It is a chronic hemolytic anemia. Red blood cells become crescent/ sickle shaped hence it has low oxygen content than the usual because of the reduced surface area. Red Blood Cells rupture easily and lowers blood red cell level hence the occurrence of anemia. Patients feel pain and gasping for air more than usual because of the demand for more oxygen since the red blood cells have reduced surface area.
In pregnancy also, it might cause a series of maternal complications some of which include increase of perinatal mortality. A rich balanced diet protects the mother and child therefore, most of the times, supplements are taken during pregnancy such as Folic acid.
Foods high in heme iron and vitamin c and calcium such as guava, lime, cabbage, orange (vitamin C), Beef, liver, poultry, fish, pork, legumes (iron), low fat, yogurt, cheese, soymilk (calcium). Foods high in vitamin D, folate and trace minerals like zinc and copper, also dairy products, whole grains, and green vegetables, Bran, cereals, broccoli, avocado, and banana for copper
4. Iron deficiency anaemia
Most common type of anemia, common in females wherein the blood stores of iron drop too low to support normal RBC production. Enhance body’s absorption of iron by drinking citrus or other fruits rich in vitamin C because vitamin C helps your body to better absorb dietary iron since iron is needed for hemoglobin synthesis. Without sufficient iron production, erythropoiesis wouldn’t take place.
Causes of iron deficiency anaemia
It can be caused by various factors, some of which are; Inadequate dietary iron, Impaired iron absorption, bleeding, loss of body iron in the urine amongst others.
Sources of iron
Healthy sources of iron includes, green leafy vegetables and legumes, fruits and vegetables aid the absorption of iron, breast milk, meat, pastas
5. Hemolytic anaemia
When RBCs die, they are replaced by the new ones produced by the bone marrow. When they die faster than they are being produced, hemolytic anemia results. It comes from the word, ‘hemolysis’ (abnormal destruction of RBCs). Can be inherited or developed later in life, destruction of the red blood cells occurs in liver, spleen or even the bone marrow and blood vessels.
It can be caused by burns, mismatches in blood transfusions, Malaria, Cancer etc. Nutrition includes iron intake, Vitamin B such as B6, B9, B12, spinach, eggs, liver, mushrooms, beans, Vitamin C, absorption of iron in the colon, melons, oranges, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, Proteins such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, beans. Most importantly however, the underlying cause of the anemia should be treated to stop hemolysis.
Anemia is gradually increasing in prevalence, therefore in case you observe some of these above named symptoms, please kindly visit the nearest health facility to get the lab tests done on you and the treatment will follow right underway.