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Anemia- It’s More Than Just Low Iron!

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It is common for a patient to be told that they are anemic but not understand exactly what that means or what they can do to support their health.  Many people just assume that it has to do with a lack of iron but actually, low-dietary intake is only one cause of anemia.  This post is designed to give you a better idea of what else could potentially be going on…

Anemia is a general term that indicates a lack of healthy red blood cells to adequately oxygenate all of your tissues.  Anemia is typically a result of some underlying cause and is labeled when the RBC (red blood cells), hemoglobin and hematocrit are all low.

There are many types of anemia.  Understanding the type that you have gives valuable information about potential causes as well as ways to improve the given condition.

Type of anemia:Labs to look for:Common causes:Actions to take:
Iron associated Low Ferratin, RBC, Hgb, Hct, MCV, MCH, MCHCBleeding- this can be from heavy periods (in women) or from internal bleeding.1 Low iron intake from the diet.1 Poor absorption of iron due to digestive distress, low stomach acid or a lack of synergistic nutrients needed with iron.1Increase iron rich foods along with foods rich in vitamin C, zinc. (A green smoothie with dark leafy greens, strawberries and a handful of pumpkin seeds can be a simple way to do this.)
Supplement with digestive support to improve absorption.1
Vitamin deficientLow RBC, Hgb, Hct, MCV, MCH, MCHC and liver enzymes
Elevated serum iron
Lack of vitamin C, B6, folate or B122 in the diet/Unable to absorb vitamin C, B6, folate or B12Improve diet to include vitamin C, B6, folate and B12 (or supplement).
Supplement with digestive support to improve absorption.
Inflammatory (Anemia of chronic disease) High Ferratin
Low RBC, Hgb, Hct, MCV, MCH, MCHC
The inflammation has a cause— seek medical help and further testing to figure out the causeGet medical help to find the cause.  Iron won’t help in these cases. Supplement with vitamin D.3

Of course, there are also some nuances to be aware of such as pregnancy, alcohol intake or medications that can alter blood labs and/or decrease absorption.2  

The first step is always discerning what type of anemia you have and then, of course,  addressing the root cause of the issue.  It could be a lack of iron or B12 or too much synthetic supplementation (which does NOT include whole food cell resonate supplements) … or many other things.  Since bleeding is a common cause of anemia (which could occur for woman with heavy periods or for men or woman with any type of internal bleeding), it is important to rule out bleeding concerns.

As a general foundation, be sure that you have generally healthy practices by getting good quality sleep, whole food plant-based nutrition and good hydration.  If you need help supporting your best health reach out to the clinic today!  269-204-6525

Resources:

1. Miller JL. Iron deficiency anemia: A common and curable disease. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2013. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a011866

2. Shipton MJ, Thachil J. Vitamin B12 deficiency – A 21st century perspective. Clin Med J R Coll Physicians London. 2015. doi:10.7861/clinmedicine.15-2-145

3. Smith EM, Tangpricha V. Vitamin D and anemia: Insights into an emerging association. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2015. doi:10.1097/MED.0000000000000199

Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease.  It does not take the place of a health care practitioner.  It is for educational purposes only.