Boosting red blood cells to avoid anemia

Blood donations_72271

WASHINGTON (WLNS) – Anemia is a common blood disorder that can make people always feel exhausted and sluggish.

Many types of anemia are mild and short term, but the condition can become serious if left untreated for a long time.

The condition occurs when your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells.

It happens with either having too few red blood cells or not having enough iron-rich protein called hemoglobin, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Red blood cells are responsible for delivering oxygen throughout your body, and hemoglobin is the protein that carries the oxygen.

When the number of red blood cells or hemoglobin levels are too low, the body doesn’t get all the oxygen it needs.

This can make you feel tired or have other symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, pale skin, or cold hands and feet.

The most common type of anemia occurs when your body lacks iron.

That is why the National Institutes of Health recommends getting a regular supply of iron as well as vitamin B12, folate, and protein.

Women are at risk for iron-deficiency anemia during menstrual periods as well as during pregnancy.

Dr. Harvey Luksenburg, a specialist in blood diseases at NIH, says that if anemia isn’t treated during pregnancy, women can give birth to iron-deficient children. This lack of iron can affect a child’s growth rate and brain development.

“Women who feel symptoms of sluggishness and fatigue may be iron deficient,” Luksenburg says.

A doctor can determine whether you have anemia by a simple blood test.

Anemia can often be prevented or easily fixed by getting enough iron, according to the NIH.

The best sources of iron are red meat like beef and liver or poultry, fish, and shellfish. Vegetarian foods that are high in iron include peas, lentils, beans, tofu, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, dried fruits like prunes or raisins as well as iron-fortified cereals and breads.

Making healthy lifestyle choices, including a nutritious, iron-rich diet, can help prevent common types of anemia so you can have more energy and feel your best.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.