What is it?
With the term anemia, we indicate a pathological condition, in which the number of red blood cells is not sufficient, to the point of impairing the transport of oxygen to the cells and tissues of our body. Anemia can be temporary or long term and can range from mild to severe. In most cases, anemia has more than one cause.
When do we talk about anemia?
There are several clinical parameters that can be used to diagnose an anemia condition. In general, anemia exists in adults whose hemoglobin values are lower than 13 g/dl in males and 12 g/dl in females., An additional parameter used is the hematocrit value less than 40% in men and 37% in women. The hemoglobin concentration and the hematocrit value are the ones most used to initially diagnose anemia. But there are different types and forms of anemias, which can be diagnosed by evaluating further clinical parameters.
The main symptoms of anemia are, a state of physical fatigue, ataxia, exhaustion, paleness, dyspnoea, very brittle and concave nails, irregular or rapid heartbeats, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, migraine, hands and feet cold. The state of hypoxia can lead to an alteration in the function of the heart and kidneys, with complications such as heart failure, breathing difficulties, oliguria or anuria, due to the reduced blood supply to the kidney. Furthermore, Cerebral hypoxia is the result of lack of oxygen to the brain. It can cause long-term brain injury.
Forms of anemia
Mediterranean anemia or Thalassemia
Mediterranean anemia is also known by the term thalassemia or Cooley’s anemia. It is a genetic disease, that causes the destruction of red blood cells. The cause is mainly genetic, resulting from a mutation in the β-globin gene cluster. The β globin chain imbalance is responsible for the hemolysis of red blood cells and for their premature death. because their body makes such low amounts of hemoglobin, people with thalassemia need regular blood transfusions. It is commonly found in Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, southern China, and occasionally the Mediterranean region. In particular, Sardinia is the Mediterranean region with the highest incidence of healthy beta-thalassemia.
Vitamin deficiency anemia
Vitamin deficiency anemia is a lack of healthy red blood cells caused by lower than usual amounts of vitamin B-12 and folate.
Anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency may be due to genetic causes or the failure to produce intestinal intrinsic factor, a protein expressed in the intestinal mucosa, essential for the absorption of vitamin B12 or due to a deficiency in the diet of vitamin B12.
Anemia due to folic acid deficiency is mainly linked to nutrition. It is mainly caused by a low consumption of green leafy vegetables, rich in this vitamin and a high consumption of alcohol or cigarettes.
Vitamin C deficiency anemia is also mainly linked to the diet. It is mainly caused by a low consumption of foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and citrus fruits.
Iron deficiency anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is anemia caused by a lack of iron. Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin, and therefore its deficiency can result in a reduction in the synthesis of hemoglobin, with associated problems of hypoxia. The causes may be associated with iron and vitamin C deficiency in the diet, the presence of blood loss, inflammation of the intestinal mucosa that hinder its absorption, surgery such as bypass of the digestive tract, or conditions such as pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Sickle cell anemia
Sickle cell anemia is another type of anemia, with genetic causes that involve an alteration in the shape of red blood cells. In sickle cell disease, red blood cells can change shape and form a sickle, or crescent. The cells become stiff and sticky, causing them to block blood flow blood.
Surely the cornerstones of the diet for anemia are the presence of vitamins such as vitamin C, Vitamin B 12 and folic acid, plus iron.
- Folic acid is found in citrus fruits, bananas, dark green leafy vegetables and whole grains;
- Vitamin B12 at the level of meat, dairy products, whole grains and soy;
- Vitamin C especially in citrus fruits, melon and berries;
- Iron in both red and white meat, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables and dried fruit.