What is all the hype about Anemia? Why should I have this checked? Iron transports oxygen in our bodies. Plain & simple. If a person has anemia, they have low iron, meaning lower amounts of oxygen are getting to all the nicks & crannies of our bodies. If you spend a little time thinking about how important this is…it’s pretty darn amazing how Iron supports our body! Women are more likely to have anemia than men. A few reasons why this occurs is that woman have monthly menstrual cycles, grow human beings inside of our bodies, and breastfeed from months to years after we start having children. Because we are constantly giving out our blood, nutrients & iron we are prone to anemia. This is a huge reason why consuming a diet rich in nutrients is very, very important especially in our child-bearing years. Pregnant women are especially prone to anemia due to all the extra blood the body is making for the development of the baby. This could lead you to feel extra tired, fatigues, irritable, and weak. On a more serious note, severe anemia during pregnancy can lead to a low-weight baby, preterm babies, or post partum depression. The risk for anemia increases if you have pregnancies close together, have had severe nausea & vomiting, or are pregnant with twins. There are different types of nutrient-deficient anemia. So, if you feel you may be anemic speak with your doctor about the different types of anemia and what nutrient you could be deficient in. Usually eating a nutrient-rich diet & taking a prenatal multi-vitamin is adequate.
Another person in your life to think about while getting your Iron-levels checked is your child. Bone marrow is made out of RBCs. And remember, iron transports oxygen throughout your body which is done through your blood. Therefore, because children grow like weeds, inches upon inches of bone marrow are made each year. This is a ton of RBCs being utilized. This is the reason why children are another age group that are prone to anemia. Most pediatricians that I’ve come in visit with check iron-levels yearly or every other year. Speak with your doctor if you have any questions/concerns regarding anemia with yourself or your children.
While making a conscious effort to consume a more iron-rich diet, here are a few important things to remember while creating your meals. Think about Iron as the car, the oxygen as passengers that need to be transported to each destination in your body, and Vitamin C as the driver. When trying to consume a diet rich in Iron, it is just as important to be consuming an adequate amount of Vitamin C throughout the day as well. Iron & Vitamin C work together in our body to transport oxygen & to keep our cells healthy & strong.
Here are a few examples of foods rich in Iron:
• Meats: Liver, Beef, Turkey, clams, fish, pork & chicken.
• Non-Meat Foods: Tofu, eggs, bread, enriched tortillas, beans, dried peas, enriched grains (100% whole grain cereals), dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, mustard greens, chard, collards).
Here are a few examples of foods rich in Vitamin C:
• Potatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, tomatoes, broccoli, mango, papaya, bell peppers, grapefruit & strawberries.
An example of a Fe- & Vitamin C –rich day is:
• Breakfast: 2 whole eggs, 2 pieces 100% whole grain toast & a cup of berries.
• Snack: homemade trail mix (walnuts, almonds, dried fruit, dark chocolate)
• Lunch: large kale salad with nuts, black beans, nuts, carrots, corn, and goat cheese, drizzled with olive oil & balsamic vinegar.
• Snack: banana w/peanut butter
• Dinner: chicken, brown rice, broccoli, peas, and an orange.
References: Anemia in Pregnancy. http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/anemia-in-pregnancy