We don’t usually give too much thought to our blood.
It flows through our bodies, shuttling nutrients and oxygen, and working to remove waste materials.
Blood also plays a role in transporting hormones and fighting infections.
However, when there are issues with the blood it can leave us feeling tired, weak, and cold.
We are The Mindful Healing Clinic, and we offer nutritional counseling in Mississauga.
Today we will have a look at anemia, which occurs when there aren’t enough red blood cells in the body – what it is, how to recognize it, and some natural ways to manage it.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition which occurs when your body doesn’t have a high enough red blood cell count, or they do not function properly.
Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen to the body’s tissues, and as such, a low red blood cell count means the amount of oxygen in the blood will be low as well.
Most of the issues associated with anemia are due to lowered oxygen levels to the body’s tissues and organs.
What Are The Different Types Of Anemia?
Although the underlying result of anemia is always that the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, there are different types based on the root cause of this.
Next, we will take a look at some common types of anemia, and what causes them.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia occurs when there are not enough healthy red blood cells due to low iron levels.
Healthy red blood cells rely on iron to help produce hemoglobin which carries oxygen through the body.
Because iron deficiency results in inadequate oxygen levels, it can leave you short of breath and fatigued.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in North American women.
Vitamin Deficiency Anemia
Vitamin deficiency anemia occurs when low levels of certain vitamins result in inadequate red blood cells.
This can be due to not getting enough of these vitamins through diet, or because of difficulties the body may have in absorbing them.
These deficiencies are generally managed through supplementation and changes to the diet.
This type of anemia is linked to diseases which cause an inflammatory response, resulting in reduced production of red blood cells.
Some diseases which can result in inflammation anemia include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Kidney disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Other chronic inflammatory diseases
Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is when there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells available to transport oxygen through the body.
Healthy red blood cells are round and flexible.
In individuals with sickle cell anemia, they are shaped like sickles, or crescents, which can cause them to become stuck in the blood vessels and prevent blood flow.
Other Types Of Anemia
Other types of anemia include:
- Aplastic anemia
- Sideroblastic anemia
- Hereditary sideroblastic anemia
- Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
- Congenital dyserythropoietic anemia
- Diamond-blackfan anemia
- Megaloblastic anemia
- Fanconia anemia
- Anemia due to bone marrow disease
- Hemolytic anemia
What Are The Symptoms Of Anemia?
In some forms of anemia, there are no symptoms.
When they do occur, however, they can include:
- Feeling weak
- Cold extremities
- Pale or yellowish skin
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling lightheaded
- Chest pain
Naturopathic Treatments For Anemia
If you have anemia, there are a number of natural ways to help manage this disease.
Let’s have a look at a few of these.
1. Address Your Nutrient Deficiencies
Given that two of the major causes of anemia are deficiencies in vitamins B12 and C, as well as folate and iron, ensuring you are getting enough of these nutrients may help in managing your anemia.
This can be done through diet or supplementation.
Some foods containing these include:
- Organ meats
- Dairy products
Folate (Vitamin B9)
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Leafy green vegetables
- Kidney beans
- Fortified cereals
- Most nuts
- Organ meats
- Red meat
Spirulina is an extremely popular supplement, full of antioxidants and nutrients with a wide range of benefits.
This includes benefits for people living with anemia.
A study in Cellular and Molecular Immunology supplementation with spirulina was shown to increase the hemoglobin of red blood cells.
Nettle is extremely high in iron, however this in and of itself isn’t the only reason why this herb is used when providing treatment for anemia.
It also contains a number of vitamins which help the body to absorb iron more easily, including retinol (vitamin A), B-vitamins, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and vitamin K.
This herb can be taken as a tea, a tonic, or used in sauces and salads.
Although some people think of dandelion as a useless and unsightly weed, it can be helpful in managing anemia.
Dandelions are not only rich in iron, but also contain compounds which help your body to absorb it.
It is often paired with other herbs, such as nettle, and can be used in teas or salads.
This flavourful, creamy vegetable is good for a lot more than making avocado toast.
Avocados are rich in iron, as well as folic acid (vitamin B9) and vitamin C, making them another great way to help combat anemia.
Although you may be getting lots of iron in your diet, it’s important to have adequate vitamin C for it to be properly absorbed.
The vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in lemons and other citrus fruits facilitate the absorption of iron by your body, so it can be used to help create new red blood cells.
Book An Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic
Are you feeling tired and sluggish but aren’t sure why?
Do you feel cold all the time?
Perhaps dietary restrictions are preventing you from getting enough iron.
If for any reason you are worried you may have anemia, the Mindful Healing Clinic can help.
I’m Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, ND, and I can help you determine the cause of your symptoms – whether it be anemia or something else, and work with you to create a plan to address these issues.
Contact me today to book a free 15 minute consultation.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.