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Dietary Management for Anemic Patient Health

Anemia happens when your body doesn't have enough red blood cells. The condition is mainly caused by blood loss, the destruction of red blood cells, or your body’s inability to create enough red blood cells.
Common symptoms of anemia can include:
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • The feeling of the heart racing (palpitations)
  • Pale or yellow skin
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
  • Mental confusion or forgetfulness

Nutritional Deficiency Leads to Anemia:

Anemia is a common issue that many people face today due to a lack of nutrition in our food.Deficiency in iron, folate or vitamin B12. This can happen if you don’t eat enough in general, you eat a restrictive diet, or sometimes if you’re a vegetarian/vegan who avoids animal products (since animal products are good sources of iron and B vitamins). Your body needs adequate iron, vitamin B12, folate and other nutrients from the foods you eat in order to produce healthy amounts of hemoglobin and red blood cells. If your body can’t process B-12 properly, you may develop pernicious anemia.

Anyone can develop iron-deficiency anemia, although the following groups have a higher risk:
  • Women, because of blood loss during monthly periods and childbirth.
  • People over 65, who are more likely to have diets that are low in iron
  • People who are on blood thinners such as aspirin, Plavix, Coumadin, or heparin
  • People who have kidney failure (especially if they are on dialysis), because they have trouble making red blood cells
  • People who have trouble absorbing iron.

Dietary management of Anemia:

Many types of anemia can't be prevented. But iron deficiency anemia and vitamin deficiency anemia can be avoided by having a diet that includes a variety of vitamins and nutrients, including:


Not eating foods with enough iron is sometimes the cause of iron deficiency anemia. The main role of iron is to carry oxygen around the body. It is a major component of a chemical called hemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Iron is stored mainly in our liver and muscles.

Daily Intake Recommendation:

The daily value of iron you need depends on several factors, including age and sex. Too much iron can be toxic, so it’s still important to follow the necessary daily values when switching to an iron-rich diet.
  • Males and females between 9–13 years old: 8 mg
  • Males 14–18: 11 mg
  • Females 14–18: 15 mg
  • Males 19–50: 8 mg
  • Females 19–50: 18 mg
  • Males and females 51+: 8 mg
  • Pregnant females 14-50: 27 mg

Iron Rich Food Sources:

Iron food sources include:
  • Red meat and offal - e.g beef, lamb, pork, kidneys, liver, heart, black pudding (note pregnant women should avoid liver).
  • Fish and shellfish - e.g. sardines, pilchards, crab, anchovies, shrimps, mussels.
  • Eggs.
  • Cereal and cereal products - e.g. bread, Rice Krispies, cornflakes, Weetabix, Ready Brek, bran flakes, oatcakes, rye crispbreads.
  • Nuts and seeds - e.g. hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts.
  • Green leafy vegetables - e.g. broccoli, spinach, watercress, kale.
  • Beans and pulses - e.g., baked beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed beans, kidney beans.
  • Dried fruit - e.g., raisins, apricots, prunes, currants, figs.
  • Miscellaneous - e.g., plain (dark) chocolate, cocoa powder, mango chutney, cherries in syrup, gingernut biscuits, pastry, curry powder.
Small amounts of haem iron are found in poultry - e.g. rabbit, chicken, turkey.

Preventing Iron Deficiency in Infants:

To prevent iron deficiency anemia in infants, feed your baby breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first year. Cow's milk isn't a good source of iron for babies and isn't recommended for infants under 1 year. After age 6 months, start feeding your baby iron-fortified cereals or pureed meats at least twice a day to boost iron intake. After one year, be sure children don't drink more than 20 ounces (591 milliliters) of milk a day. Too much milk often takes the place of other foods, including those that are rich in iron.

Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is usually treated with injections of vitamin B12, in a form called hydroxocobalamin.After this initial period, your treatment will depend on whether the cause of your vitamin B12 deficiency is related to your diet. The most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK is pernicious anemia, which isn't related to your diet.
Although it's less common, people with vitamin B12 deficiency caused by a prolonged poor diet may be advised to stop taking the tablets once their vitamin B12 levels have returned to normal and their diet has improved.

B12  Food Sources:

Good sources of vitamin B12 include:
  • Meat
  • Salmon and cod
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Eggs
If you're a vegetarian or vegan, or are looking for alternatives to meat and dairy products, there are other foods that contain vitamin B12, such as yeast extract (including Marmite), as well as some fortified breakfast cereals and soy products.If these foods are not consumed in adequate amounts, the Vegan Society recommends a vitamin B12 supplement of 10 micrograms per day.

Daily Intake Recommendation:

The Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board recommends that
  •  Healthy adult men and women over 19 years old consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 each day. 
  • Pregnant women need 2.6 micrograms daily and women who are breastfeeding need 2.8 micrograms daily.
  •  Elderly people over age 50 may need as much as 100 to 400 micrograms of supplemental vitamin B-12 each day since the ability to absorb the nutrient decreases with age.

Vitamin B9 (Folate):

Folate-deficiency anemia is a decrease in red blood cells (anemia) due to a lack of folate. Folate is a type of B vitamin. It is also called folic acid.A person who lacks folic acid may experience intestinal problems as well as the usual symptoms of anemia.Folate is especially important for fetal development. It plays a crucial role in the formation of a developing child’s brain and spinal cord. Folate deficiency can lead to severe birth defects, growth problems, or anemia.

Folate Food Sources:

You can find folate in foods, including:
  • Beans and lentils
  • Citrus fruits
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Asparagus
  • Meats such as poultry and pork
  • Shellfish
  • Fortified grain products

Daily Intake Recommendation:

Folate is naturally found in food, and folic acid is the form of folate that is used in multivitamins, supplements, and fortified foods. The current daily intake recommendations for folate and folic acid are 400 mcg per day for adults. The maximum amount of folic acid that you should consume each day is set at 1,000 mcg, according to Oregon State University. Therefore, you should get the majority of your daily intake from folate-containing foods and limit your folic acid supplementation to a standard multivitamin. The Harvard School of Public Health states that a standard multivitamin contains around 400 mcg of folic acid.

Diet Chart for Anemic Patient:

The first five days of a special diet for anemic patients should be devoted exclusively to fresh fruits. During this period, all three meals should consist of fresh fruits taken at five-hourly intervals.
After this, a diet of fresh fruits and milk should be followed for the next fifteen days. The only difference during this period is the addition of milk to each meal of fruit, starting with 2 pints of milk every day and moving up to four or five pints every day in ½ pint increments. Thereafter, a well-balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and nuts can be followed.
Other measures that should be adopted include:
  • Drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every day
  • Getting adequate rest and sleep
  • Exercise or light yoga can help in regaining fitness 

Bad Food for Anemia to Avoid:

  • Added sugar/sweeteners
  • Processed grains
  • Chocolate. Chocolate contains a substance that removes iron from your body, so it is best to avoid when you are trying to increase your iron levels.
  • Bran. Bran is high in insoluble fiber that traps and removes iron during digestion.
  • Conventional dairy. Calcium binds with iron in foods and can lead to poor absorption.
  • Soda. Soda is high in sugar and poor in nutrients and it blocks iron absorption.
  • Coffee and black tea. Excessive coffee intake may block iron absorption, so reduce it to no more than one cup per day.
In short, these are the best dietary management for the recovery of anemic patients.


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