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Anemia: Symptoms, Causes and Diet


The most common type of anemia in Mexico is caused by iron deficiency.

According to the WHO, about 25% of the world's population suffers from some type of anemia.

Currently, it is estimated that 25 million boys and girls between 1 and 4 years old live with anemia in Mexico.

The main cause of anemia in the Mexican population is the lack of an adequate diet for the production of red blood cells.

The people who are most likely to have anemia are those who follow a vegetarian and/or vegan diet.

High consumption of medications such as paracetamol can increase the chances of having anemia.

What is anemia?

The anemia It is a blood disease characterized by a deficiency of red blood cells that prevents the oxygen needs of all the body's tissues from being met. The anemia It is usually common among people with certain chronic diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), congestive heart failure, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, among others. In addition, anemia is expressed through low hemoglobin levels that produce a feeling of frequent tiredness. 

There are different types of anemia as the iron deficiency anemia , pernicious anemia , megaloblastic anemia , thalassemia , aplastic anemia idiopathic and hemolytic anemia . Each type of anemia has different causes and characteristics and tends to be the most recurrent, although research shows that nutritional anemia is usually the most typical in children. Anemia can be limited or prolonged over time and, if this is your case, keep in mind that anemia has different levels of severity, from mild to severe, so it is important to diagnose it in time.

Anemia can be prevented through healthy habits and a proper diet. There are different types of treatment for anemia and they largely depend on what its causes are. It may include medical procedures, medication, and supplements that generally level out the deficiency of iron and other substances in the body.

Symptoms of anemia

Below we present the symptoms of anemia most common, although keep in mind that sometimes you may not experience symptoms. The symptoms of anemia They vary and depend, to a large extent, on the factors that cause it and its level of severity. Anemia can be a silent disease and go unnoticed by your own eyes and then worsen over time, so it is vital that you have regular medical check-ups and blood tests.

Some symptoms of anemia are:

  • Constant feeling of weakness.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Constant fatigue.
  • Presence of dizziness.
  • Feeling of lightheadedness.
  • Feeling of lightheadedness.
  • Skin with yellowish color or pale skin.
  • Headache.
  • Chest pains.
  • Cold hands and feet.

The causes of anemia are varied, they can manifest differently in each person and define the types of anemia that exist. Because people who have anemia do not have optimal production of hemoglobin or red blood cells, many of the causes of anemia are related to blood or bone marrow function.

Between the causes of anemia most frequent are:

  • Lack of iron
  • Folic acid deficiency
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Blood disorder in the production of red blood cells
  • Genetic abnormalities or family history
  • Chronic diseases such as cancer
  • Being an immunosuppressed person living, for example, with HIV
  • Hematological diseases such as leukemia or the presence of lymphomas
  • Intestinal alterations and disorders
  • Age. People over 65 years of age are at greater risk of suffering from the disease.

In addition, there are some complications if anemia is not treated in time and adequately:

Difficulties in pregnancy:

Pregnant women who have anemia can have premature births.

Extreme fatigue levels:

The fatigue caused by anemia can be so aggressive that it can prevent you from carrying out your daily responsibilities and activities.

Heart problems:

Anemia can cause arrhythmias or irregularities in the heartbeat.

Death risk:

Losing large amounts of blood can lead to severe, life-threatening anemia. In addition, some inherited anemias such as sickle cell anemia can be severe and lead to death if not treated in time.

Types of anemia

Although iron deficiency anemia is the most common among types of anemia , there are others that are just as dangerous if adequate treatment is not received or detected in time. In the following comparative table, you will be able to know the main characteristics of the types of anemia more frequent:

Iron deficiency anemia

The iron deficiency anemia It occurs due to the absence or deficient levels of iron in the body. There are not enough healthy red blood cells in the body.

Without the necessary iron, the body is unable to produce hemoglobin and, therefore, cannot transport enough oxygen. Its main symptoms

Pernicious anemia

In the case of pernicious anemia, the main cause is the stomach. This type of anemia originates because this organ does not generate a protein that allows it to adequately absorb vitamin B12, which is vital for the production of red blood cells. This vitamin is extracted in the stomach from foods such as red meat, seafood and dairy products.

Megaloblastic anemia

Megaloblastic anemia occurs because a diet does not meet the folic acid requirements in children or because the bone marrow, in the case of adults, produces red blood cells of abnormal size. These abnormalities in the body cause the red blood cells that are produced to be of poor quality and have a lower survival rate in the body.

Idiopathic aplastic anemia

The aplastic anemia It damages stem cells, which are responsible for producing blood cells in the bone marrow.

Stem cells are known as “immature cells” and other blood components such as white blood cells and platelets originate from them.

Hemolytic anemia

Those who have hemolytic anemia They are affected by their own immune system, since it is this that eliminates red blood cells from the body and produces the deficit.

Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the different tissues in the body, so their function is vital for good health. The hemolytic anemia It can even occur from receiving a blood transfusion from someone who is not compatible with your blood group.

Diagnosis of anemia

The diagnosis of anemia must be made through different clinical studies, which must be indicated by your doctor. Once you start to show symptoms of anemia , or if you have the slightest suspicion, you should go to an internist or hematologist. The test you will probably be asked to do first is a complete blood count . With a small blood sample, you can know your red blood cell and hemoglobin levels. With these results, your doctor will confirm or rule out the diagnosis of anemia .

Anemia treatment

Treatment of anemia is highly related to the causes of anemia . Since the causes determine the type of anemia, they also determine the type of treatment, depending on the symptomatic severity of the disease.

Treatments can range from taking some supplements to make up for deficiencies in iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, etc., to specialized medical procedures. Some of the alternatives anemia treatment are:

  • Supplements of vitamin B12, folic acid, iron and other minerals/vitamins.
  • Use of some corticosteroids or other medications to suppress the immune system.
  • Blood transfusions in some cases.
  • Erythropoietin. This is a medication that helps the bone marrow to produce a greater number of blood cells and thereby transport more oxygen to all the tissues of the body.

Foods for anemia

Nutrition plays a fundamental role both in the treatment of anemia and in life after this disease; That is, having a healthy lifestyle where you have a diet that provides the necessary nutrients and requirements so that your body can function optimally while including physical activity in your daily routine.

In the case of people with anemia, the diet they follow becomes just as important for their recovery as dietary supplements or medical check-ups. Through food we give the body “fuel” to be able to carry out all processes correctly, have energy and prevent diseases. If you have already received a diagnosis of anemia, this is the right time to approach a nutrition expert and be guided correctly to include foods rich in iron and vitamin B12; which will help you improve the levels of red blood cells in your body.

According to Lic. Irishina Yañez Bahena , nutritionist, when you have anemia you have to give priority to certain foods in your diet. Foods with iron for anemia that can help you improve your iron intake are:

  • Orange
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberries
  • Lemon
  • Grapes
  • Banana
  • Papaya
  • Legumes
  • Quinoa
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Cauliflower
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Turkey
  • Seafood
  • Low fat red meats
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Egg
  • Liver
  • Walnuts

On the other hand, Lic. Irishina Yañez Bahena It tells us that if you have anemia it is necessary to avoid foods that inhibit iron absorption such as tea, coffee, chocolate, cereals with high fiber content or cocoa. Likewise, it is important to limit the consumption of salt, fats and refined sugars.

"Because prevention is better than cure"
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