According to WomensHealth.gov, more than 3 million people in the United States have Anemia. With that many ‘sufferers’ it’s likely you know someone with it. I am one of the those 3 million.
What is Anemia?
Anemia is the lack of iron in your red blood cells and because of this, your blood cells carry less oxygen. Symptoms include: easy bruising, sleepiness or exhaustion, feeling cold when others are not, cold hands and feet and lightheadedness. If any of these symptoms apply to you, it might be a good idea to contact a doctor for a simple blood test. It is not contagious and is mainly caused by genetics.
Women are most commonly affected, due to menstruation. According to ShareCare.com, 1 in 10 women who menstruate have an iron deficiency. If an iron test is performed before and after menstruation of someone who does not increase iron intake during this time, the results will show a notable decrease in iron levels.
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Is there a solution?
Fortunately, there is a simple ‘fix’ to mild iron deficiency (Anemia). Local drug stores like Walgreens or CVS sell vitamins, there you can find iron supplements*. Always consult your doctor before taking new vitamins or supplements; in this case, if you have too much iron, then taking more can cause a serious problem. One difficulty many people have with Iron supplements is that, if they are not taken with food, they can cause an upset stomach. I have found that taking plant-based supplements from a local health foods store does not cause this problem.
Vitamin C is another great vitamin to add to your list; it helps your body absorb iron easier, so this is great for those with mild iron deficiency to take without the iron supplement or for those who have a more extreme case to take alongside their iron supplement. As I have said before, please contact your doctor before starting any new vitamin routine.
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I am an O+ blood type, so I can donate platelets at my local blood donation center. But because of my iron deficiency, sometimes I cannot donate because they have a required iron level. I talked to my doctor, and they ran some blood tests and monitored my levels over a couple months and decided supplements would be the best route for me. I take 125mg worth of iron in supplement form 3 times a day. I also take a Vitamin C supplement as discussed above. Another alternative to extremely low iron is transfusion. At one point, my iron was dipping so low, my doctors were thinking of having me come in once a month to have an iron transfusion. This is an extreme measure, and luckily, it never came to that. I’m not perfect, and I do sometimes forget to take my iron supplements. When this happens, I can tell because I notice bruises that I have no explanation for.
Here are a few sites that can tell you more about Anemia
*Not all iron supplements are vegan or vegetarian. Local shops, like health food stores, may carry supplements as well, and that is a great place to find a vegan or vegetarian option supplements – I currently take Sunrise Natural Easy Iron, they are vegetarian and absorb better than most iron supplements because they are plant-based.