A to Z of Nutrition: A is for anaemia

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed, or you know someone who’s been living with anaemia for years and want to know more about it, we explore what it means and how a nutritionist may be able to help you.

What is anaemia and how is it caused?

Anaemia is a very common condition. It is often caused by the body not having the number of red blood cells it needs, or the blood lacking the protein haemoglobin.

One of the most common causes is a lack of iron in the diet, though other causes may include:

> Women experiencing heavy periods.
> Pregnancy – extra iron is needed to support the baby.
> As a result of painkillers (ibuprofen and aspirin).
> Chronic kidney disease.

How does it affect me?

You may not have any symptoms at all – people can experience the condition differently, depending on the type of anaemia that you have. But, some of the most common symptoms of all types of anaemia include:

  • Tiredness
  • Feeling dizzy or weak
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeats, or palpitations.

What does it mean for my diet?

Not all types of anaemia can be treated by diet, but a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet containing a variety of foods can help reduce the risk of developing the condition and help to ensure you are consuming enough iron. A balanced diet may also to help treat the symptoms of two particular types of anaemia:

> iron deficiency anaemia
> megaloblastic anaemia

Should I seek help?

Whilst managing your diet yourself is certainly helpful, to properly treat anaemia, you have to treat the underlying cause – and this is where you may consult a nutrition professional for expert advice on how to tailor your diet, and to advise on other treatments such as iron supplements.

It is also important to continue to consult your GP post-diagnosis; it may be the case that medicines and surgical procedures are suitable treatments for you.

Take a look at which nutritionists specialise in anaemia, and may be able to help you.

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Becky Wright

Written by Becky Wright

Becky is Marketing and Content Officer for Happiful and a writer for Nutritionist Resource.

Written by Becky Wright

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