Blood is synonymous with life and even mild degrees of anaemia will lead to tiredness, a strong feeling of not being in form, sensitivity to cold, dizziness, and pale complexion. If the anaemia is severe these sympoms are aggravated and accompanied by sleepiness, fainting, tachycardia, buzzing in the ears, and hyperventilation. If the anaemia is severe enough, it can be deadly.
The red blood cells are essential to the etiology of anaemia. The organ responsible for the production of the red blood cells is the bone marrow, and it takes about a month to produce the amount of red blood cells present in one litre of blood.
The red blood cells take up oxygen from the lungs and distribute it to the cells in exchange for carbon dioxide which they carry back to the lungs. To carry out this function the red blood cells are dependent on various constituents, especially iron, but also folic acid and vitamin B12. A sufficient supply of copper is also necessary to avoid anaemia.
Causes of anaemia are:
Bleeding: trauma accompanied by external or internal bleeding, bleeding gastric ulcers, punctured haemorides, intestinal polyps, or prolonged periods of strong menstrual bleedings.
Reduced production of red blood cells: If the bone marrow is in some way poisoned or damaged by radiation, the production of red blood cells can be impaired.
Lack of or poor intestinal absorption of folic acid (B9) and vitamin B12 also will result in too few red blood cells being produced.
Iron deficiency: If iron is not supplied in sufficient amounts through the diet, or if the absorption of iron is insufficient because of decreased production of gastric acid for example, as it is seen following large consumption of coffee, tea, or cola. Young people in the growing age and pregnant women have increased iron-needs.
Certain diseases lead to iron deficiency: Arthritis and inflammatory conditions, certain intestinal diseases, and some types of cancer.
Pernicious anaemia is a hereditary disease, caused by an incapability of the body to absorb vitamin B12. Among other things, this will result in the formation of abnormal, large red blood cells. The symptoms of this condition can be tiredness, buzzing in the ears, headache, visual disturbances, and palpitations. People who suffer from pernicious anaemia must have regular injections of vitamin B12 in order to stay symptom free, but the condition requires treatment before permanent damage to the brain and nerves occur.
In hemolytic anaemia the red blood cells die so rapidly that the body's production of red blood cells cannot keep track with the cell death. The condition is seen in connection with certain intoxications, abuse of painkillers, malaria, and yellow-fever. Defect red blood cells also have short lives, as it is seen in sickle cell anaemia.
The blood concentration of haemoglobin should be in the area of 7,8 - 10 mmol/l in women and between 8,4 and 11 mmol/l in men.
General advice on disease prevention and a healthy lifestyle can be found in the library article "General Advice - for healthy as well as for ill ones" in the VitaHealth section under Focus Articles. You can also test your health by taking our "Health Check".
Follow a diet that is rich in iron; i.e. red meat, offal, fish, brown rice, corn, beans, and nuts. People who suffer from iron deficiency can benefit from a supplement of organic iron. One should separate the administration of the iron supplement from the administration of other supplements during the day. Make sure to cleanse the blood and body of accumulated heavy metals, since they can cause anaemia even without a lack of iron. Avoid tobacco smoke; your own and that of others.
Particularly elderly people, but also vegetarians, should make sure to put together a diet that will provide them with sufficient amounts of vitamin B12. Cheese, for example, contains quite large amounts of vitamin B12. In some cases, it can be necessary to take a vitamin B12 supplement - e.g. as lozenges. When taking a vitamin B12 supplement, you should also take a complete vitamin-mineral supplement in order to support the absorption of vitamin B12.
- Folic acid (B9) can be found in fresh vegetables.
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) can predominantly be found in aminal products and only to a lesser extent in fruit and vegetables.
- Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron.
- Copper, cobalt, and molybdenum are important trace minerals that should be included in the daily vitamin-mineral pill.
- Zinc takes part in the utilizaton of iron and aids in the transport of carbon dioxide in the blood stream.
- Iron can also be taken in fluid form; as a herbal extract as in Floradix® for example.
Cases of iron deficiency - especially when chronic - should be examined by a general practitioner before initiating self treatment. One should avoid taking iron supplements together with tetracyclines (broad-acting antibiotics). Make sure to consult an orthomolecular practitioner before using iron supplements.
Also see "Anorexia", "Arthritis and rheumatic disease in general", "Auto-immune disorders in general", "Cancer", "Colitis ulcerosa", "Crohn's disease", "Digestive problems", "Menstrual problems", "Parasite infection", "Pregnancy, problems of", "Tiredness", and "Tropic diseases".