Foods to Treat Anemia

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Anemia occurs when your blood has an insufficient number of red-blood cells. This condition also can develop if your red-blood cells don’t contain enough of the iron-fortified protein hemoglobin that helps red blood cells move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

Anemia can be short-lived or chronic and may be caused by a variety of factors.A healthy diet may enough to prevent and even treat anemia.

Signs & Symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic, anemia may be asymptomatic when it first develops. As the condition progresses, some of its signs may include tiredness and a quick or sporadic heartbeat. Other symptoms associated with anemia are chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, cold hands and feet, and pale skin.

Doctor listening to patient's heartbeat
Doctor listening to patient's heartbeat (Image: Yuri Arcurs/Hemera/Getty Images)

Iron & Vitamin Deficiency

The Mayo Clinic reports anemia that is caused by an iron deficiency is common, striking up to 2 percent of adults in the U.S.

A diet low in folate and vitamin B-12 also make conditions ripe for anemia to develop. A deficiency of these nutrients can lead to a decline in the creation of red-blood cells.

Doctor explains to patient
Doctor explains to patient (Image: Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images)

Poor Diet & Anemia

People of all ages who regularly eat a diet lacking in adequate amounts of iron and vitamins are in danger of becoming anemic. Your doctor may recommend dietary changes in addition to taking vitamins or iron supplements. Vitamin C helps the body soak up iron.

Vitamin C pills in woman's hand
Vitamin C pills in woman's hand (Image: Miha PeroA!a/iStock/Getty Images)

Meat & Dairy Products

The National Institutes of Health says red meats, especially beef or liver can help treat anemia. Chicken, pork, turkey, fish and shellfish may also be beneficial because they too are good sources of vitamin B12. Dairy products including eggs, milk yogurt and cheese are also full of B12.

Grilled chicken liver
Grilled chicken liver (Image: Andriy Sharapa/iStock/Getty Images)

Fruits & Vegtables

The NIH recommends eating plenty of dried fruits such as raisins along with apricots, bananas, oranges and peaches to counteract the effects of anemia. Other dietary remedies for anemia include dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, as well as peas and white, red and baked beans. These foods are rich in folic acid, a form of vitamin B, and vitamin C.

Raisins spilling from bowl
Raisins spilling from bowl (Image: Eva Gruendemann/iStock/Getty Images)

Iron-Rich Foods

According to the NIH, iron is added to bread, cereal and pasta. The nutritional information label on the item will say exactly how much iron it contains. The amount is given as a percentage of the recommended daily intake of iron.

Baker removing bread from oven
Baker removing bread from oven (Image: Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images)

Prevention

Many types of anemia can't be prevented. However, you can help avoid iron-deficiency anemia and vitamin-deficiency-induced anemias by eating a healthy and varied diet.

The Mayo Clinic reports no treatment for anemia that develops as a result of chronic disease. In cases of aplastic (bone-marrow failure) anemia, a blood transfusion may be necessary to increase red-blood cell levels.

Couple cooking in kitchen
Couple cooking in kitchen (Image: wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images)

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