The Anemia and Iron Connection
More than half of all anemias are due to iron deficiency and this type of anemia is more prevalent in women than in men. Anemia develops when your body doesn’t have the right supply or level of red blood cells.
But anemia can also develop when your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin within these blood cells. The hemoglobin is the vital protein that helps the red blood cells work right, sort of like a mini engine that sends the blood cells off to work.
In order for your body to create this necessary hemoglobin, it must have iron. The mineral iron is a necessity not only for hemoglobin production but also for myoglobin and is important in order for your body to have a healthy immune system. You body discharges a percentage of iron every day and you can’t survive without this mineral.
Thankfully, the body stores iron for the times when it needs it. In a normal, healthy body, this store is consistently replenished when it’s used. In a person whose body is not getting as much iron as it needs, this store is tapped into repeatedly until the supplies begin to run low.
But you won’t notice anything is wrong until the iron your body had on reserve is depleted. When this depletion happens, the body starts sending out red flags in the form of symptoms to let you know that something is wrong.
This symptom alarm system is your body’s built in panic button because it knows what it needs to survive and isn’t getting it. Your body has a control system that regulates how much iron it needs.
But if you’re anemic or you have a medical condition that inhibits the collection of iron, you can’t give your body what you don’t have. This is the stage when anemia starts. When you begin to treat for low iron, it can take your body as long as two months to restore the lost iron.
This is why having a diet consistently high in iron rich foods is important. As long as you don’t have a more serious health condition causing the anemia, your body takes the iron it needs from food.
By eating foods rich in iron, you can help the stores stay replenished. There are two ways to get iron from foods and this is found by consuming foods with heme and nonheme iron.
Heme foods are meats and nonheme is food like beans, fortified cereals, nuts, etc. If you suspect you have an iron deficient anemia, you should always get a confirmation from a doctor before you begin to treat with supplements.
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