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Iron and B vitamins help prevent anemia

Updated: Oct 4, 2018

Anemia is a problem with too few mature red blood cells and it can cause feeling tired. Red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. In addition to vitamin C, iron and several B vitamins are needed to healthy red blood cells and blood vessels.

Green leafy vegetables such as spinach can be a good source of iron and some B vitamins. Green beans or chili beans and other types of beans and green peas can also provide iron, B vitamins and other important nutrients. Nuts, seeds, and meats are also a source of iron and may include some B vitamins.

Anemia is a condition where blood cells are too few in number or not working correctly and the problem may simply be a lack of adequate nutrients.

Vitamin C from citrus or tomato or other food sources eaten along with vegetarian sources of iron can help increase the amount of iron that is absorbed. Iron from meats or egg yolk is fairly well absorbed as it is in a slightly different chemical form called heme iron which is similar to the oxygen carrying chemical called hemoglobin found in the red blood cells.

Blood cells help provide energy to the body by carrying oxygen from the lungs and removing carbon dioxide from the cells to be exhaled after the blood cells make the return trip back to the lungs. The blood cells have a fairly short life span and more are continually being formed within the bone marrow however the process needs adequate iron, protein, and while all the B vitamins are important a deficiency in folate or vitamin B12 may cause a specific type of anemia called vitamin deficiency anemia or macrocytic or megaloblastic anemia. The blood cells are larger than fully mature cells and can't carry oxygen normally. Iron deficiency anemia may have too few blood cells possibly due to blood loss and insufficient iron to replace the lost stores of hemoglobin.

  • More information about symptoms of anemia and the differences between iron and vitamin deficiency anemia and other more rare types of anemia is available on the Mayo Clinic website: Anemia.

Symptoms of anemia:

Symptoms of anemia can include feeling tired easily and short of breath after doing less exercise or work than typical. Skin tone may be pale, instead of having rosy or darker cheeks than other areas of the face, and there may be a paler pink skin tone on the inside part of the lips instead of a brighter pink. Supplements of iron and B vitamins may be helpful during pregnancy or if anemia is suspected or diagnosed.


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