Do you often feel fatigued, tired, or exhausted without having done much? Well, this might be the start of Anemia. If you are wondering what Anemia is, then we have the answer for it too! Anemia usually occurs when your red blood cell (RBC) also known as erythrocytes count is low. Now, red blood cells play a vital role in your body as they carry fresh oxygen all over the body. Haemoglobin, a commonly known protein is inside red blood cells which basically holds the oxygen while carrying it through your body. In fact, this isn’t the only work that red blood cells do. They also remove carbon dioxide from your body and help in bringing it to the lungs for you to exhale. So, all in all, red blood cells play a vital role in ensuring that your body functions well. In fact, red blood cells are the most essential cells in the body without which an individual will not be able to survive even for a single moment.
So, when these red blood cells either reduce in numbers or lose their ability to effectively deliver oxygen, it usually leads to Anemia. However, having a high number of red blood cell count too can have a similar oxygen-depleting effect on your body.
Now to know all about Anemia, its causes, symptoms and ways to increase red blood cells, keep reading below -
Symptoms of Anemia
Anemia is well-defined when there is a low number of red blood cells in the body. The effects of Anemia can develop rapidly or maybe a slow process, depending on the cause. This low hemoglobin can cause Anemia and some of the Anemia symptoms include:
- Lack Of Energy
- Pale Skin
- Cold Hands And Feet
- Difficulty In Breathing
- Unintended Movement In The Lower Leg
- Feeling Cold
- Dull Eyes
- Pain In Your Bones, Chest, Belly And Joints
- Trouble Concentrating
- Tachycardia (Rapid Heart Rate)
- Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)
What Causes Anemia?
There could be various reasons that can cause or lead to Anemia. But the common reason is when blood doesn't have enough red blood cells. However, to know in depth, all the causes of Anemia, then they are listed down below
1. Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency related Anemia is one of the most common types. This is majorly caused just as the name suggests, due to a shortage of iron in your body. Your bone marrow needs iron to make hemoglobin and without an adequate supply of iron, your body is not able to produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells.
This type of Anemia is most commonly caused by blood loss due to heavy menstrual bleeding; an ulcer in the stomach or small bowel or cancer of the large bowel. So, to ensure that your body gets a sufficient supply of iron else it would lead to iron deficiency Anemia. When the body loses a lot of blood, it draws water from tissues beyond the bloodstream to help keep the blood vessels full. And this additional water drawn from the tissues dilutes the blood, thus reducing the red blood cells count that leads to Anemia.
2. Vitamin Deficiency Anemia
Apart from iron deficiency, if there is a deficiency of vitamin B-12, then even that can lead to Anemia. Your body requires folate and vitamin B-12 to produce enough healthy red blood cells. So, if your diet lacks a consistent and efficient source of these and other key nutrients then this can lead to a lowering of red blood cell production in your body. Some examples of vitamin deficiency Anemia include Megaloblastic Anemia and Pernicious Anemia.
If you have vitamin B12 deficiency Anemia, here are some common symptoms that can help you identify it -
- Problems With Reflexes Or Movement
- Muscle Weakness
- Numbness And Tingling In Your Hands Or Feet
- Thickness And Redness Of Tongue
- A Deep Depressive Or Sinking Feeling
- Issue With Memory
- Confusion State
- Disruptive Digestive Symptoms Like:
- Bloating Or Gas
- Nausea Or Vomiting
3. Anemia Caused by Inflammation
There are certain diseases which could cause and lead to inflammation. These diseases include cancer, HIV or AIDS, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and other critical or chronic inflammatory diseases. These diseases can interfere in the production of red blood cells thus leading to Anemia.
4. Decreased or Weakened Red Blood Cells
Bone marrow places a huge role in producing red blood cells. The bone marrow is a soft and spongy tissue at the centre of the bones. This produces stem cells that develop into red blood cells, white blood cells and even platelets. But there are a number of diseases that can affect bone marrow, including leukemia or myelofibrosis. Leukemia is a type of cancer that triggers and targets the production of excessive and abnormal white blood cells, thus disrupting the production of red blood cells. The effects of these types of cancer and cancer-like disorders can vary from mild to life-threatening depending on the discrepancy or amount of red blood cells.
So, any concern or problem that affects the bone marrow can lead to Anemia. In some cases, Anemia is diagnosed when red blood cells do not grow and mature like they usually do as that happens with thalassemia, which is a hereditary form of Anemia.
There are various other types of Anemia that is usually caused due to decreased or weakened red blood cells. Some of them are mentioned below -
A) Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is usually inherited and may sometimes cause a serious condition like Haemolytic Anemia. This is usually caused due to a defective form of haemoglobin that pressurizes the red blood cells to assume an abnormal crescent as in a sickle shape. These irregular red blood cells die prematurely, thus resulting in a chronic shortage of red blood cells.
B) Haemolytic Anemia
Haemolytic Anemia is a group of Anemias that usually developed when the red blood cells are destroyed at a higher speed than bone marrow can replace them. This causes deficiency of red blood cells leading to Haemolytic Anemia. You can either inherit Haemolytic Anemia, or you can develop it later in life.
C) Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic Anemia is one of the rarest and life-threatening anemia types. It occurs when your body does not produce enough amount of red blood cells. The majority of things that can cause and lead to aplastic anemia include infections, autoimmune diseases, certain medicines and exposure to toxic chemicals.
D) Fanconi Anemia
Fanconi Anemia is a type of anemia that is also rare and it is genetic. This type of anemia happens when the bone marrow does not make enough red blood cells. However, being genetic, about 50% of the people who have this genetic condition are diagnosed by the time that they turn 10 years old. The common physical signs of Fanconi Anemia include abnormal bone structure or abnormal skin color.
E) Mediterranean Anemia
Mediterranean anemia is a condition that is also known as Cooley’s anemia. It, in fact, is actually referred to as Beta Thalassemia Major. Thalassemia is usually an inherited condition in which your body does not make an adequate amount of hemoglobin. And in addition to not making enough of hemoglobin, the red blood cells do not live as long as they can normally would live in someone without this condition.
F) Vegetarian Or Vegan Anemia
Vegetarian or vegan anemia is a term that is usually referred to people who are vegetarians or vegans. These vegetarians and vegans may usually have a tough time getting an adequate amount of iron as they do not eat foods like poultry, meat or seafood. However, if they carefully plan their food there are various ways that they can include to balance out this deficiency with a plant-based diet.
Best Foods and Nutrients that Increase Red Blood Cells
With anemia, making the right food choices is important. Regularly indulging in junk food means that your body is deprived of nutrients. It is best to eat iron-rich foods and foods that provide an adequate number of vitamins B12, B9 and C.
Here is a list of foods that are a must to include in your diet to ensure your body gets all the essential nourishment to increase red blood cells -
Iron is an essential component to produce hemoglobin. And including iron-rich food in your diet can increase your body’s production of RBCs.
Some of the dietary sources that are packed with iron are -
- Egg Yolks
- Red Meat (Such As Beef)
- Organ Meat (Such As Kidney And Liver)
- Leafy Green Vegetables (Such As Kale And Spinach)
- Dried Fruits Like Prunes And Raisins
- Fortified Cereals
- Potato With Skin
2) Folic Acid
Folic acid or folate is also known as vitamin B 9. It is an essential nutrient for the nervous system as it helps in creating new cells in the body.
Foods with a high amount of vitamin B-9 (folic acid) are -
- Green Leafy Vegetables (Such As Spinach And Mustard Greens)
- Enriched Cereals
- Enriched Breads And Grains
- Oranges And Orange Juice
- Brussels Sprouts
- Beef Liver
- Black Eyed Peas
- Kidney Beans
3) Vitamin B12
Vitamin B 12 is yet another essential that keeps anemia at bay by increasing red blood cells. These are some foods that are rich in vitamin B 12 -
- Dairy Products, Such As Milk, Cheese And Yogurt
- Beef, Liver, Chicken And Fish
- Fortified Foods, Such As Breakfast Cereals
Intake of copper does not directly result in red blood cell production; however, it can help your red blood cells to access the iron they need to replicate.
Some foods that are high in copper are -
- Sunflower Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Beef Liver
5) Vitamin A
Retinol is also called vitamin A. It appears to support a person’s red blood cells count by working with iron. You can get enough vitamin A by including good sources of beta-carotene in your diet, as the body can easily convert beta-carotene into retinol. Include foods like -
- Dark, Leafy Green Vegetables, Such As Spinach And Kale
- Yellow, Red Vegetables, Such As Carrots, Sweet Potatoes And Red Peppers
- Fruit Such As Mango, Papaya, Apricots, Watermelon, Grapefruit, And Cantaloupe
6) Vitamin C
Vitamin C has no direct effect on red blood cells; however, it is still important as it helps the body to absorb more iron. So, it is best to include foods that are a rich source of vitamin C -
- Baked Potatoes
- Red And Green Peppers
Best Supplements that Increase Red Blood Cells
In case you are not getting enough nutrients through your diet, then we recommend you to consult your doctor and start taking supplements of some key nutrients. These particular supplements can help your body in increasing the production of red blood cells, thus supporting the body with enough red blood cells to keep anemia at bay.
With adequate dosages, you can most certainly help in boosting the red blood cell production. So, consult your doctor regarding these supplements and dosages.
A few are mentioned below that you can go through -
The deficiency of iron is the most common form of anemia. The body requires iron to make hemoglobin, which stores oxygen in the blood cells. Without iron, these blood cells may eradicate or become unable to send oxygen around the body.
When it comes to intake of iron dosage, most women need about 18 mg per day, whereas men need only 8 mg per day.
One of the easiest and most convenient ways to intake iron is by including supplements in your regime. And one of the best ones is the Pura Vida’s IronPlus Gummies. A bottle of iron supplement gummies contains 30 servings. These delicious iron gummies are packed not only with iron but also with copper and vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. All of these key ingredients work in helping and boosting the production of red blood cells in your body. The Pura Vida’s IronPlus Gummies have a delicious taste and are designed for high oral bioavailability. They also help in maintaining hemoglobin levels, eliminate fatigue, boost immunity, and support brain function.
You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Apart from boosting red blood cells, there are various other essential roles that vitamin A plays in your body. It helps in the body's natural defense against illness and infection and even enhances your vision.
So, for women, it is recommended to take around 700 micrograms and for men, it is best to intake around 900 micrograms of vitamin A per day.
Vitamins B and Folic Acid
There are various types of vitamin B that help in nourishing your body in multiple ways. For example, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, help to keep your nervous system healthy and they even release energy from food. Vitamin B6 helps in storing energy from protein and carbohydrates in food and also helps in the formation of hemoglobin which helps in carrying oxygen around the body. B12 helps in the production of red blood cells while B9 is folic acid which helps in the formation of red blood cells.
The dosage of each of this vitamin B and folic acid is recommended by doctors accordingly -
B1, B2, B3 and B6 is recommended for women ranging between 1.5mg to 13mg per day. While for men, it ranges from 1.7mg to 16mg per day. (Consult your doctor to know your exact range for each accordingly.)
For folic acid (B9) any average person should intake between 100 and 250 mcg per day. However, if you regularly menstruate, it is recommended that you take 400 mcg per day. While women who are pregnant should take 600 mcg per day. (However, it is best to consult your doctor before starting these supplements)
This vitamin may help your body better absorb iron. So, it is recommended to intake around 75 mg for women and 90mg for men of vitamin C per day.
Vitamin E helps in strengthening your immune system amongst many other beneficial things it does to your body. An average adult requires 15mg of vitamin E per day.
Copper is known to produce red and white blood cells. It also triggers the release of iron to form hemoglobin in your body to ensure it carries oxygen to your body efficiently. The everyday dosage of copper for an average adult is 1.2mg a day
Required Lifestyle Changes to Increase Red Blood Cells
If you are wondering on how to increase red blood cells quickly, there are some lifestyle changes that you must start inculcating in your habits.
1) Reducing the Intake of Alcohol
Consuming alcohol in a larger quantity every day or quite often can lead to decreasing of red blood cell count. Alcohol usually tends to interfere with your body’s absorption of nutrients that you consume through a balanced and nourishing diet. And it also affects the process of red blood cell production. Furthermore, when you have a high amount of alcohol, it can damage the liver and kidneys which again interferes with their roles in red blood cell production.
For women, it is best to restrict yourself after one drink in one day. For men, it this best to put a stop after two drinks in one day.
2) Adding Exercising to Your Regime
In general, exercise helps in stimulating the production of red blood cells, this process is called erythropoiesis. For example, your body tends to normally break down the red blood cells after approximately three to four months, while it simultaneously makes new ones to replace them.
So, exercising helps your older red blood cells to break down faster so that they can be then recycled more quickly. Also, vigorous exercising makes your body prone to needing more oxygen. And when your body requires more oxygen, your brain signals your body to create more red blood cells. This is how exercising and the production of red blood cells are related. And some of the best ways to include vigorous exercising is to start swimming, running or jogging regularly.
3) Being Consistent with a Healthy Diet and Supplements
Apart from these, it is best to keep your healthy and nutrient-filled diet consistent. Also, ensure you keep your supplements in check to ensure your red blood cells increased and are evenly balanced.
Apart from this, you can try some of these effective ways too -
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Avoid regular junk food that could lead to vitamin deficiencies
- Reduce intake of medicine like aspirin
When to See Doctor?
For some people changing your dietary habits or your lifestyle changes might not show effective results and might not be enough to balance the red blood cell levels. In such cases, if one noticed or experiences certain symptoms of anemia, they should visit the doctor immediately. If you constantly feel fatigued and do not know why, or if you feel there is something unnatural with your digestive system then it's time to see your doctor.
Sometimes anemia is caused by underlying medical problems that can become more serious and less treatable if they progress without treatment for a long time. The basics of what a doctor does in the course of starting your treatment are to run a few tests to check your red blood cell count, to begin with. If tests show low red blood cell count, then the doctor will start with supplements and hereon. In case, if it is due to a different cause, doctors will attempt to treat the underlying condition. The right course of treatment can help the red blood cell count to improve on its own immediately.
So, in case of the slightest discomfort or unnecessary fatigue, do not ignore it by saying you are feeling under the weather, if it is a recurring thing, it is best to visit the doctor right away to begin with the right course of treatment.
A low red blood cell count could be an underlying factor for various underlying health problems. However, we hope that all these ways of treatments, causes, and symptoms mentioned above help you to take good care of your health. Remember that there is no single type of food will help in curing anemia. But eating an overall healthy and well-nourished diet can help you get the iron, vitamins and other essential nutrients you need to keep in check with your red blood cell count. It is best to get the right course of treatment in time and look out for the symptoms to ensure your red blood cell count remains in check. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and eating habits to avoid any occurrence or recurrence of anemia.
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