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How to win your fight with Iron Deficiency Anemia

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

Dear Readers, Happy Women’s Day!

This time, we are about to discuss an issue that is very common, especially amongst the women population — Iron Deficiency Anemia, more commonly known as Anemia.

Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) is a condition when there is a deficiency in Red Blood Cells or Hemoglobin or both in our body. In 2019, the global anemia prevalence was 29.9% in women of reproductive age, equivalent to over half a billion women aged 15–49 years. According to National Family Health, 55% of the female Indian population is suffering from anemia. But why is this high in women when compared to men?

Women bleed every month for 3–7 days on average. And if this bleeding is heavy, then it is likely to cause IDA. Chronic blood loss can also happen through conditions like peptic ulcers, a colon polyp, or colorectal cancer which could then lead to IDA. Apart from this, even a diet less in iron can cause IDA. And especially if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, then you need to pay a little more attention to your daily iron sources. IDA may occur in pregnant women as well if they are not given enough iron supplements. Lastly, some intestinal disorders like celiac disease could also hinder the absorption of iron from foods leading to IDA.

We now understand the reason behind iron deficiency anemia. But how do we fight IDA?. Here are some of the foods rich in iron.

Animal sources: lean pork, egg, chicken, fish, lamb, organ meat (liver)

Plant sources: Nuts and seeds (sesame seeds, almonds, cashews), dry fruits (dates, apricots), vegetables (dill leaves, spinach, cabbage), pulses, legumes and beans (cowpea, horse gram), jaggery, cereals (ragi, bajra), fruits (pomegranate, avocado)

Now that you know the foods rich in iron, here are some strategies to incorporate them into your daily diet.

1) Eat lean red meat 3 - 4 times a week. Heme iron is absorbed better in the body than non-heme iron.

2) Include carbohydrate-rich food along with non-heme iron food sources.

3) If you are a vegan/vegetarian, try including iron-rich foods daily in the diet.

4) Phytates and oxalates present in the plant food hinder iron absorption, hence including Vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits helps in better absorption.

5) Avoid intake of tea, strong coffee, or red wine along with iron-rich foods.

It’s high time that you put yourself first and think about your health and well-being, because if you are well, then all is well. So, this Women’s Day, we urge all of you to take a step towards yourself, and to educate and motivate others to do so too!!

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