Anemia – types and dietotherapy

Anemia is a condition that is characterized by a decrease in hemoglobin (a protein contained in red blood cells that transports oxygen), a hematocrit (ratio of the volume of red blood cells to the volume of blood) and the total number of red blood cells – erythrocytes. The causes of anemia are most often associated with iron deficiency in the diet. However, anemia can be caused by both insufficient supply of nutrients (iron, B12, B9 – folic acid) as well as blood loss, bone marrow depletion or chronic diseases. 


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However, regardless of the cause, anemia is manifested by chronic weakness, decreased concentration, headaches and dizziness, pale skin and mucous membranes (mouth, lips, conjunctivitis), tachycardia (increased pulse), dyspnoea and poor tolerance to physical exertion. An important and necessary element of the treatment of anemia is the introduction of an appropriate diet. What types of deficient anemia can we distinguish and what are the principles of their dietotherapy in anemia? 

Microcytic anemia (non-pigmented) caused by iron deficiency 


Insufficient supply of iron along with diet results in abnormal hemoglobin synthesis and production of erythrocytes smaller than normal. Anemia of IDA is also caused by disorders of iron absorption, traumas, surgery and chronic bleeding and increased iron demand (eg during pregnancy, lactation). Anemia due to iron deficiency most often affects women of childbearing age who lose iron during menstruation and use slimming diets that limit the supply of nutrients and vitamins. Inadequate supply of iron in the diet often also occurs in the elderly, young children and people using a poorly balanced vegetarian diet. 


In addition to symptoms typical of anemia, anemia due to iron deficiency is also manifested by dry skin, cracks at the corners of the mouth, nail and hair fragility and coilonyia (so-called spidery nails). 

Demand for iron 

Demand for iron increases, inter alia, during the growth of the body (children, adolescents, pregnancy), as well as during breastfeeding. 

Iron demand – daily intake (RDA) recommended – according to the Dietary Reference Intakes set by the American National Academy of Sciences, Food and Nutrition Board. 

* 1 Recommended daily intake (RDA) – a value that satisfies the needs of more than 97.5% of the healthy population in each age group, both sexes. This value is estimated by statistical methods. 

* 2 Maximum level of intake (UL) – a value that does not cause harmful effects in healthy people, as stated in studies under medical supervision. 

* 3 Recommended Daily Intake (AI) – the probable level of daily intake calculated from observations or experimentally determined approximations or estimates of intake of individual nutrients. The AI ​​value is given when it is not possible to estimate the RDA. 


Iron is an element that occurs in food in two forms. Products of animal origin contain heme iron, while products of plant origin are non-heme iron. Iron heme is absorbable in 15-35%, while non-heme iron in 2-20%. The diet for the treatment of anemia should contain an adequate amount of iron and all the necessary nutrients necessary for the formation of erythrocytes. 


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ZINC – strengthens immunity, improves the condition of hair and nails

If you lack the zinc in the body, you often catch infections, you have no appetite, you are tired, you have trouble concentrating, your hair falls out and your nails break. Most of us have too little zinc – it’s in products that we eat too rarely and in small quantities.


Zinc, although there are only traces of it in the body (1.5-2.2 g), plays an important role.

-It’s part of approx. 80 enzymes.

-Peases the work of the pancreas, thymus, prostate, participates in the transformation of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

-Thanks to it, we can taste and smell.

– It protects us against colds, flu, conjunctivitis, mycosis and other infections. It strengthens the body’s immunity and helps relieve the symptoms of autoimmune diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis).

Improves intellectual performance, prevents dementia, and supports the treatment of depression and schizophrenia.

– It protects the macula of the eye against degeneration and reduces the feeling of ringing in the ears.

It has a beneficial effect on fertility, regulates menstruation, and counteracts prostate diseases.

– It helps with the treatment of diabetes and hypothyroidism.

– Relieves symptoms of osteoporosis, haemorrhoids, intestinal inflammation, and peptic ulcer disease.

– Protects cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.

– It accelerates wound healing, soothes skin irritations. It’s effective in the treatment of juvenile and rosacea acne, burns, pimples and psoriasis.

Strengthens hair and nails.

Zinc and taste disorders

People with this ailment may have a metallic taste in their mouths, do not feel the taste at all or feel it stronger than they should. Patients were administered zinc or placebo (in the second group) for some time. People who took zinc showed less symptoms of taste disorders and generally functioned better. The group also had fewer depressive symptoms – perhaps also because the subjects could eat more and take much more pleasure from eating.

Who may lack zinc?

Most of us have too little zinc – it’s in products that we eat rarely and in small quantities. In addition, its absorption is difficult. The biggest enemies of zinc are alcohol, sugar, bran (they have a lot of fibre), products enriched in copper and iron. People suffering from gastrointestinal diseases, alcoholism, orthodox vegetarians and macrobiotic persons, people on a slimming diet, people who eat a lot of sweets, pregnant women and sportsmen (due to the greater demand) are at risk of this deficiency.


Excess zinc in the body: symptoms

The quantities of zinc that are usually found in food do not lead to excessive consumption. The effects of long-term intake of large doses of zinc from supplements include lowering the body’s immune response, reducing HDL-cholesterol levels and worsening the condition of copper nutrition. Acute symptoms of zinc poisoning include stomach pains, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea and headaches.


Zinc deficiency in the body: symptoms

Lack of appetite, dry mouth, skin diseases and decreased libido – that’s how zinc deficiencies can manifest. The lack of this element is also demonstrated by the

susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections, loss of taste and smell, deterioration of memory, fatigue and reduction of tolerance to alcohol. It’s believed that zinc deficiency may be an important contributor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.