Anemia occurs when the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, or there is less hemoglobin in the blood. Because hemoglobin helps transport oxygen throughout your body, a lack of it cause paleness, fatigue and weakness.
Although there are many different types of anemia, the most common, iron-deficiency anemia, is very treatable. Iron-deficiency anemia occurs when dietary intake or absorption of iron is insufficient, and hemoglobin can not be formed. It can be caused by menstruation, frequent blood donation, endurance training, digestive medical conditions (such Crohn's disease), certain drugs and can be highly prevalent during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as a result of an increase in the body's metabolic demands. It is also caused by a lack of iron in your diet, especially involving infants, teens, and vegetarians.
There are two types of iron chemical structures found in our diet: heme iron (found in meats, poultry and fish) and non-heme iron (found in plant products, such as nuts, rice and beans, and fortified foods such as grains, flours and cereals). Heme iron is the best source as our bodies absorb it more efficiently. Only 1- 7% of non-heme iron is absorbed when consumed in a single food product. Non-heme iron absorption can increase if non-heme foods are paired with a varied diet that follows the recommendations of the food guides. Pair non-heme and heme irons together, and whenever possible, include Vitamin C or calcium with your meals, as it aids in iron absorption.
Iron supplements should only be taken when recommended by a medical professional. Adult men and post-menopausal women should be especially careful as they are most susceptible to iron overload, which can lead to organ damage. Only take iron supplements if you cannot correct your deficiency problem through diet alone, and only after discussing your problem with a doctor.