Although anemia is not specifically a female condition, more women than men suffer from it, mainly because one common form of anemia, iron-deficiency anemia, is often associated with menstruation. Women whose menstrual flow is consistently heavy are especially vulnerable to iron-deficiency anemia.
What is anemia?
Anemia means deficiency of blood. Normally your blood is in a constant state of change. The bone marrow continuously produces red blood cells (erythrocytes) to replace those which are constantly being destroyed. The life span of a red blood cell is about 120 days. These blood cells derive their name and color from hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying red coloring matter, or pigment, inside the blood cells.
Hemoglobin gives your blood its red color. Red blood cells are microscopic. There are about 5 million of them per cubic millimeter of blood (the size of a large pinhead). The normal healthy blood count is anywhere between 10 and 15 grams (in 100 cc). Some doctors consider a count lower than 13 grams as indicating anemia.
Hemoglobin carries oxygen to every cell and organ of the body. Since a low hemoglobin level means less oxygen reaching the tissues of the body, the consequent symptoms of anemia are constant tiredness and being out of sorts, lack of stamina, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, irritability, mental depression.
Some anemic persons experience digestive disorders, discomforts in the abdomen, indigestion. Others complain of palpitations and pulsation in the neck. Menstruation is almost always affected. The disruption can go either way: the flow can be heavy or very scanty. And, most anemic persons can be diagnosed by their pallor, or paleness, although general pallor is not necessarily always an indication of anemia.
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It contains the iron-rich, blood nourishing herbs red beets, yellow dock, strawberry leaves, chickweed, burdock, nettle and mullein.
Historically this formula has been used to treat anemia, fatigue, oxygen-deficient blood, pale complexion, skin disorders and sickle cell anemia.
It can also be a useful tonic for pregnancy.
With this formula take two capsules three times each day.
The combination has a slow cumulative effect and works better when used along with iron-rich foods and/or extra yellow dock.
What causes anemia?
Anemia can be roughly divided into two main groups: primary anemia and secondary anemia.
** In primary anemia, blood deficiency is caused by an excessive loss or destruction of blood resulting from injury, childbirth, bleeding hemorrhoids or peptic ulcers, or other trauma; or there could be an inborn or pathological weakness in the blood-building mechanism.
** Secondary anemia is caused by defective blood formation due to various dietary nutritional deficiencies or the body's inability to absorb and use the blood-building material which is present in the diet. This form of anemia is, by far, the most prevalent and the easiest to correct.
Although iron-deficiency anemia is the one form of anemia with which most people are familiar, it is not necessarily the most common form.
Deficiencies of many vital nutrients can cause anemia.
This form of secondary anemia is common among pregnant women. Therefore, during pregnancy, it is important to supplement the diet with plenty of green vegetables, raw and/or cooked, which are excellent sources of folic acid.
Folic-and-deficiency anemia can be caused by a lack of vitamin C in the diet and an insufficiency of stomach acids. Even if the diet is rich in folic acid, it cannot be changed into a usable form unless there is sufficient vitamin C present. But the most common cause of folic acid-deficiency and the anemia associated with it is a diet of refined, devitalized food. Excessive alcohol consumption is another major contributing cause.
The common symptoms of the anemia caused by folic acid deficiency are a sore mouth and tongue; sometimes there is an accompanying grayish-brown skin pigmentation. In women, a deficiency of folic acid may cause megaloblastic anemia of pregnancy, and spontaneous abortions, difficult labor, or high infant death rate.
In addition to avoiding refined foods and eating plenty of folic-acid-rich foods (deep green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, lima beans, potatoes, brewer's yeast, wheat germ, nuts), folic acid in tablet form may be advisable when a deficiency is diagnosed. Pregnant women should take folic acid supplement as a preventative: usually 0.4 to 0.8 mg. daily is sufficient. To correct a severe deficiency, 5.0 mg. or more is needed daily. In the United States, potencies higher than 0.8 mg. are available only by prescription. Folic acid should always be taken together with B-complex and B12 for its maximum effect.
Vitamin E deficiency is connected with anemia in the following causative ways:
* It prevents the absorption of iron.
* It inhibits the formation of hemoglobin.
* It causes oxidation and destruction of red blood cells by altering the essential fatty acid forming part of the blood cell structure.
It reduces the life span of the blood cells.
Vitamin-E-deficiency anemia, just like folic-acid-deficiency anemia, is especially prevalent during pregnancy since there is an increased need for this vitamin during that time. Premature births are frequently the result of too
Dietary deficiency of iron, contrary to popular belief, is not the chief cause of iron-deficiency anemia. Iron is so widely distributed in all natural foods that to produce anemia due to lack of iron in the diet one must live almost exclusively on refined and processed foods, which, unfortunately, many people do.
Iron-deficiency anemia can be caused, in addition to dietary lack of iron, by:
The body's inability to utilize dietary iron (for many reasons mentioned earlier, including lack of hydrochloric acid). Because of their inability to utilize iron, bottle-fed babies often have iron deficiency anemia, even though the formula contains plenty of iron.
Dietary deficiencies of copper, manganese, vitamin B1, B2, niacin, choline, or pantothenic acid. Copper is necessary for the synthesis of B12 by the liver.
Dietary deficiency of vitamin C, which impairs the body's ability to absorb iron.
Excessive blood losses (and, therefore, iron) during certain illnesses, such as bleeding ulcers or injuries, or during childbirth or excessive menstruation.
Iron is needed in the production of hemoglobin, in the manufacture of many enzymes involved in blood-cell production, and in the production of a substance known as myoglobin, which carries oxygen in muscle cells. Even a mild iron deficiency can cause lack of oxygen in the tissues with such immediate symptoms as chronic fatigue, headaches, and shortness of breath.
Women of reproductive age and pregnant women are especially susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia; so are bottle-fed infants, young children, and adolescent girls.
Pernicious anemia is largely a vitamin B12 deficiency disease. However, it is only seldom caused by a dietary B12 deficiency, since B12 is present in many foods, liver, and even in purely lacto-vegetarian foods
The main cause of pernicious anemia is the body's inability to use vitamin B12 effectively. Normally, an intrinsic factor, enzyme produced by the stomach, combines with vitamin B12 to produce an anti-anemic factor, which is then stored in the liver. In pernicious anemia, the stomach does not produce this intrinsic factor and, thus, vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed and utilized.
Since persons with pernicious anemia cannot easily assimilate dietary B12, it must usually be administered by injection.
In mild cases, if vitamin B12 is taken orally, supplemental hydrochloric acid, calcium, and vitamin C will promote its assimilation.
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