Is Anemia Causing Your Lack of Energy?

Posted on: November 28th, 2017 by Brandon No Comments

Do you feel as though you have a loss of energy, a feeling of being worn out from doing absolutely nothing?  Falling asleep at your desk?  When you go up stairs, do you feel a more rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and possibly a headache if you have the energy to exercise?  In the winter months, many look a little paler, but could you be looking more pale than normal? These could be signs that the body is suffering from a problem with the red blood cells leading to less oxygen getting to the cells of your body. This condition is quite common and is referred to as anemia.

If you were in grade school in the 1950s and 60s, you might remember watching Hemo the Magnificent in a health or science class. The educational film was a staple in high school classrooms for decades as Hemo explained to kids the importance of blood and overall circulatory system health. While this article may lack the cartoon animal friends that made Hemo’s lessons more entertaining, it has the same message that healthy hemoglobin in the red blood cells carries oxygen and is crucial to a well-functioning body.

Although the symptoms are similar, there are a number of different forms of anemia and each one has its own unique cause. Some forms of anemia are simply unpreventable, but two of the most common kinds are related to mineral and vitamin intake and are easily treated.

Could you be suffering from anemia? What is the best way to naturally address your particular kind?

What is anemia?

People with anemia don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to move oxygen sufficiently and, as a result, the body is unable to make enough energy and is left feeling tired and weak. In addition to feelings of fatigue, common symptoms of anemia include leg cramps, difficulty concentrating, dizziness and cold hands and feet.

Depending on the type of anemia, it can be a long- or short-term issue. The type of anemia one suffers from also determines if the symptoms will be generally mild or severe. According to the Mayo Clinic, anyone with suspected anemia should see their doctor because it may be a sign of a more serious illness.  A blood test showing hemoglobin concentrations lower than 13 g/dL in men and 12 g/dL in women indicate the presence of anemia.

Some types of anemia are related to serious health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, leukemia, myelofibrosis, kidney disease or other types of cancer. These conditions can alter the production of red blood cells. Other types of anemia can be inherited, such as sickle cell anemia. Those with sickle cell anemia are usually born with it and the abnormal, crescent-shaped red blood cells that result from it die prematurely – leaving sufferers of this anemia chronically short of red blood cells. There are many kinds of anemia but, fortunately, two of the most common kinds come from nutritional deficiencies that can be addressed with a healthy diet and/or supplementation.

Other types of anemia can be inherited, such as sickle cell anemia. Those with sickle cell anemia are usually born with it and the abnormal, crescent-shaped red blood cells that result from it die prematurely – leaving sufferers of this anemia chronically short of red blood cells. There are many kinds of anemia but, fortunately, two of the most common kinds come from nutritional deficiencies that can be addressed with a healthy diet and/or supplementation.

Which natural solutions can help?

The most common type of anemia worldwide, and the kind that most people think of when they hear “anemia,” is iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the body. Without sufficient iron, the body can’t produce enough hemoglobin. Hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color, is an important part of red blood cells and enables them to distribute oxygen. One cause of iron deficiency anemia is slow, chronic blood loss – such as from a peptic ulcer or colorectal cancer. But other causes, like a lack of dietary iron, difficulty properly absorbing iron, heavy menstruation, or pregnancy, can usually be addressed through an increase in iron intake.

Iron deficiency can also occur from other factors that limit iron absorption. For instance, the University of Maryland Medical Center warns that the use of certain antacids, known as H2 receptor blockers, can change the pH levels in the stomach and negatively affect the absorption of iron. These include popular drugs such as ranitidine (Zantac) and famotidine (Pepcid).  Other iron inhibitors that interfere with the absorption of iron include calcium (which is why calcium and iron supplements should be taken at different times of the day), tannins in tea (regular tea drinkers should be aware), polyphenols in honey, legumes and many fruits, and phytates in legumes and whole grains.

One of the other most common forms of anemia is vitamin deficiency anemia.  The body doesn’t just need iron to make healthy red blood cells; it also needs vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid) and vitamin B12. Vitamin deficiency anemia can develop because the body either isn’t getting enough of these particular B vitamins through diet, or because the body struggles to absorb these vitamins through food. Folate and folic acid are both forms of vitamin B9.  The difference is that folic acid is a synthetic form that metabolizes less effectively. Either way, increased B vitamin consumption (whether through food or supplementation) can help increase these levels and help the body make more healthy red blood cells.

What does the science say?

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute notes that a diet lacking in vitamins B9, B12, or iron can keep the body from making enough healthy red blood cells and that to raise your vitamin or iron levels, your doctor may ask you to take vitamin or iron supplements. According to research published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, oral iron supplementation is cheap, safe and effective at correcting iron deficiency anemia.

A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition used the mandatory vitamin B9 fortification of enriched cereal grains, starting in 1998, to measure the effect vitamin B9 has on reducing the prevalence of vitamin deficiency anemia. The data suggest that the increased B9 levels stemming from the fortification of the grains has led to a significant decline in associated anemia. While this is good news, many people do not regularly eat large servings of enriched cereal grains and may still be at risk for vitamin deficiency anemia.

Any other natural ways to boost iron levels?

There are some simple ways to help the body get more iron or use it more efficiently.  The richest sources of iron that are in the most bioavailable form can be found in red meat and seafood.  Other sources of iron that are less well absorbed include nuts, beans, vegetables and fortified grain / flour products.

The best way to improve vitamin B9 and vitamin B12 levels, as well as iron levels, and keep anemia away is by eating a diet rich with these substances. Some of the most well-known vitamin B and iron containing foods include leafy greens (such as spinach and turnip greens), fortified grains, egg yolks, and shellfish (such as crab, clams and mussels).

Some people may find it difficult to reach the levels they need through food alone. Most meat and seafood eating adults need about 8 mg a day of iron, but that level can vary from person to person. Adult women under 50 actually need about 18 mg a day – or 32 mg if they are vegetarian. Vegetarians need more iron because the iron from non-meat sources are less bioavailable.  Further, vegetarians lack the meat, poultry, or seafood that aids in increasing the absorption of plant-based iron.  Pregnant women (as well as those with anemia or a history of it) need even more.  Most adults need about 400 mcg of vitamin B9 and 2,400 mcg of vitamin B12 but, just like with iron, that number goes up for certain groups (such as pregnant women).

Using cast iron cookware is an easy way to “sneak” some extra iron into meals. Although the exact benefits can vary based on the food being cooked in the pots, a study from the Journal of Food Science concludes that using iron pots is a cheap way to provide people with a steady supply of iron.

Common food sources of iron and B vitamins often provide less of the nutrients than one might think. 2 cups of fortified oat bran cereal only provides 2 mg of iron, and a large egg only contains about 60 mcg of vitamin B12; so it’s easy to see why people can struggle to get the nutrient levels they need. Fortunately, there are effective natural supplements than can help fill in the gaps.

If you suspect your anemia is caused primarily from a lack of regular iron consumption, Vital Nutrients’ Iron Plus C is a good supplement to consider. In addition to providing a strong, high-quality dose of iron, it includes a bit of vitamin C that helps the body better absorb iron. If you think you may need both iron and B vitamins, take a look at Iron Complex by Integrative Therapeutics. It includes different forms of iron plus B vitamins to form an effective energy and stamina support complex.

If you have any questions about the products or suggestions discussed here, or need help placing your order, our customer service team is standing by and ready to assist you in any way they can. You can reach them by phone at (888) 460-3091 or you can email them at: customerservice@oakwaynaturals.com.

Until next time, stay healthy!

Yours in health,

Dr. Gregg Gittins

Our top pick is...

A blend of heme and non-heme forms of iron to support energy and stamina, Iron Complex features liquid liver fractions, which is a rich source of heme iron. Heme iron is the most easily absorbed form of iron, and doesn’t cause side effects such as nausea. Iron Complex also includes non-heme iron and other synergistic factors known to increase absorption and promote healthy red blood cell formation.

 

Do you feel as though you have a loss of energy, a feeling of being worn out from doing absolutely nothing?  Falling asleep at your desk?  When you go up stairs, do you feel a more rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and possibly a headache if you have the energy to exercise?  In the winter months, many look a little paler, but could you be looking more pale than normal? These could be signs that the body is suffering from a problem with red blood cells called anemia.

If you were in grade school in the 1950s and 60s, you might remember watching Hemo the Magnificent in a health or science class. The educational film was a staple in high school classrooms for decades as Hemo explained to kids the importance of blood and overall circulatory system health. While this article may lack the cartoon animal friends that made Hemo’s lessons more entertaining, it has the same message that healthy hemoglobin in the red blood cells carries oxygen and is crucial to a well-functioning body.

What is anemia?
What is anemia?

Although the symptoms are similar, there are a number of different forms of anemia and each one has its own unique cause.

People with anemia don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to move oxygen sufficiently and, as a result, the body is unable to make enough energy and is left feeling tired and weak. In addition to feelings of fatigue, common symptoms of anemia include leg cramps, difficulty concentrating, dizziness and cold hands and feet.

Depending on the type of anemia, it can be a long- or short-term issue. The type of anemia one suffers from also determines if the symptoms will be generally mild or severe. According to the Mayo Clinic, anyone with suspected anemia should see their doctor because it may be a sign of a more serious illness.

Some types of anemia are related to serious health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, leukemia, myelofibrosis, kidney disease or other types of cancer. These conditions can alter the production of red blood cells.

Other types of anemia can be inherited, such as sickle cell anemia. Those with sickle cell anemia are usually born with it and the abnormal, crescent-shaped red blood cells that result from it die prematurely – leaving sufferers of this anemia chronically short of red blood cells. There are many kinds of anemia but, fortunately, two of the most common kinds come from nutritional deficiencies that can be addressed with a healthy diet and/or supplementation.

Which natural solutions can help?
Which natural solutions can help?

The most common type of anemia worldwide, and the kind that most people think of when they hear “anemia,” is iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the body. Without sufficient iron, the body can’t produce enough hemoglobin. Hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color, is an important part of red blood cells and enables them to distribute oxygen. One cause of iron deficiency anemia is slow, chronic blood loss – such as from a peptic ulcer or colorectal cancer. But other causes, like a lack of dietary iron, difficulty properly absorbing iron, heavy menstruation, or pregnancy, can usually be addressed through an increase in iron intake.

Iron deficiency can also occur from other factors that limit iron absorption. For instance, the University of Maryland Medical Center warns that the use of certain antacids, such as Zantac and Pepcid (known as H2 receptor blockers), can change the pH levels in the stomach and negatively affect the absorption of iron. Other iron inhibitors that interfere with the absorption of iron include calcium, tannins in tea, polyphenols in honey, legumes and many fruits, and phytates in legumes and whole grains.

One of the other most common forms of anemia is vitamin deficiency anemia. The body doesn’t just need iron to make healthy red blood cells; it also needs vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid) and vitamin B12. Vitamin deficiency anemia can develop because the body either isn’t getting enough of these particular B vitamins through diet, or because the body struggles to absorb these vitamins through food. Increased B vitamin consumption can help increase these levels and help the body make more healthy red blood cells.

What does the science say?
What does the science say?

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute notes that a diet lacking in vitamins B9, B12, or iron can keep the body from making enough healthy red blood cells and that to raise your vitamin or iron levels, your doctor may ask you to take vitamin or iron supplements. According to research published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, oral iron supplementation is cheap, safe and effective at correcting iron deficiency anemia.

A study from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition used the mandatory vitamin B9 fortification of enriched cereal grains, starting in 1998, to measure the effect vitamin B9 has on reducing the prevalence of vitamin deficiency anemia. The data suggest that the increased B9 levels stemming from the fortification of the grains has led to a significant decline in associated anemia.

Any other natural ways to boost iron levels?
Any other natural ways to boost iron levels?

There are some simple ways to help the body get more iron or use it more efficiently.  The richest sources of iron that are in the most bioavailable form can be found in red meat and seafood.  Other sources of iron that are less well absorbed include nuts, beans, vegetables and fortified grain / flour products.

The best way to improve vitamin B9 and vitamin B12 levels, as well as iron levels, and keep anemia away is by eating a diet rich with these substances. Some of the most well-known vitamin B and iron containing foods include leafy greens (such as spinach and turnip greens), fortified grains, egg yolks, and shellfish (such as crab, clams and mussels).

Some people may find it difficult to reach the levels they need through food alone. Most meat and seafood eating adults need about 8 mg a day of iron, but that level can vary from person to person. Adult women under 50 actually need about 18 mg a day – or 32 mg if they are vegetarian. Vegetarians need more iron because the iron from non-meat sources are less bioavailable.  Further, vegetarians lack the meat, poultry, or seafood that aids in increasing the absorption of plant-based iron.  Pregnant women (as well as those with anemia or a history of it) need even more.  Most adults need about 400 mcg of vitamin B9 and 2,400 mcg of vitamin B12 but, just like with iron, that number goes up for certain groups (such as pregnant women).

Common food sources of iron and B vitamins often provide less of the nutrients than one might think. 2 cups of fortified oat bran cereal only provides 2 mg of iron, and a large egg only contains about 60 mcg of vitamin B12; so it’s easy to see why people can struggle to get the nutrient levels they need.

Which supplements are best?
Which supplements are best?

If you suspect your anemia is caused primarily from a lack of regular iron consumption, Vital Nutrients’ Iron Plus C is a good supplement to consider. In addition to providing a strong, high-quality dose of iron, it includes a bit of vitamin C that helps the body better absorb iron. If you think you may need both iron and B vitamins, take a look at Iron Complex by Integrative Therapeutics. It includes different forms of iron plus B vitamins to form an effective energy and stamina support complex.

We hope this slide show was helpful and informative. Should you have questions, or suggestions, please feel free to fill out our Ask the Doctor form found at the Doctors Corner.

Yours in health,

Dr. Gregg Gittins
www.oakwaynaturals.com

* National Institutes of Health. Iron fact sheet. 2016
* Bailey, SW and Ayling, JE, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: The extremely slow and variable activity of dihydrofolate reductase in human liver and its implications for high folic acid intake. 2009
* National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Anemia fact sheet. 2014
* Johnson-Wimbley, Terri, Ph.D., and Graham, David, Ph.D., Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology: Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anemia in the 21st century. 2011
* Odewole, OA, Ph.D., et al., The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Near-elimination of folate-deficiency anemia by mandatory folic acid fortification in older US adults: Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study 2003-2007. 2013
* Kroger-Ohlsen, M.V., Ph.D., Journal of Food Science: Release of Iron into Foods Cooked in an Iron Pot: Effect of pH, Salt, and Organic Acids. 2002

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