Nourish your blood

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

‘You are what you eat’. Anonymous

‘To eat is a necessity but to eat intelligently is an art’. La Rouchefoucauld.

These are slogans that relate you to what you choose to eat. Foods ought to provide nutritional support for the body. On ingestion, it is to be assimilated to provide energy, stimulate growth and maintain life. Poor intake of various vitamins and minerals through food consumption can lead to diseases that are far-reaching. One of these diseases is anemia; this includes iron-deficiency anemia, folate or vitamin b12 deficiency anemia. Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common of all forms of anemia.

One of the components of the blood is the hemoglobin-containing red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a bio molecule that contains iron and it can bind to oxygen. It helps to transport oxygen from the oxygen-rich regions of the lungs to tissues and organs where it is needed. Hemoglobin is responsible for the red color of the blood. Iron deficiency alters the production of haemoglobin, this results in anemia. Deficiency in vitamin B12 and folic acid can also result in anemia.

Blood test with haemoglobin levels less than 13.5gm/dl for men and 12.0gm/dl for women signals the onset of anemia. Symptoms include decreased immune function, inflamed tongue, difficulty maintaining body temperature, decreased work and school performance.

A vegetarian diet, poor diets in infants and poor nutrition during pregnancy can expose a person to anemia. Iron from animals is more bioavailable than iron from plant sources; these sources include poultry, meat, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds etc. Sources of vitamin B12 include eggs, milk, cheese, milk products etc, while sources of folic acid include beans, spinach, avocado, okra etc. The recommended daily allowance for iron varies with age and sex, lactating women and adolescents require more compared to others.

Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron in the body while tea, coffee, antacids, wholegrains, polyphenols and calcium could inhibit iron from being absorbed. When iron is taken in excess, it can result in heartburn, constipation and abdominal pain. Those at risk for iron-deficiency are young children (1-5years) that consume too much milk, babies fed with unfortified iron formulas or cow milk, pregnant women and adolescent females.



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