Best supplements for anaemia: Do you need vitamin B12, folic acid or iron tablets?

Red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, with vast quantities created every single day. Nutrients from food, such as iron, vitamin B12 and folate ensure the bone marrow is healthy.

Too little of these nutrients will lead to some type of anaemia, which all share general symptoms.

According to Nursing Times, there are seven warning signs of anaemia to be aware of. These are:

  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness (dyspnoea)
  • Faintness
  • Irregular heart beats (palpitations)
  • Headache
  • Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
  • Loss of appetite
This is an autoimmune disease that attacks the stomach’s cells that are responsible for producing intrinsic factor – a protein that binds to B12.

Normally, intrinsic factor binds with vitamin B12 so that the nutrient can be re-absorbed into the body.

When a person had pernicious anaemia, this doesn’t happen, causing a deficiency in the long term.

The body usually stores enough vitamin B12 to last up to four years, but pernicious anaemia begins in most people over the age of 60.

Other causes of a vitamin B12 deficiency can be caused by a vegan diet, an unhealthy diet or Crohn’s disease.

Meanwhile, folate can only be stored for roughly four months inside of the body.

The water-soluble vitamin is needed in a daily diet, said the Nursing Times.

An unhealthy, unbalanced diet is a likely cause, or irritable bowel syndrome which can cause absorption issues.

Furthermore, excessive urination can cause a folate deficiency, which may be due to congestive heart failure.

The body may be more demanding for folate for any of these possible reasons:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have cancer
  • Sickle cell anaemia
  • Inflammation in the body

As for an iron deficiency, the NHS explained heavy periods, pregnancy and internal bleeding are likely culprits.

Any of these deficiencies can be identified by a blood test arranged by your GP.

Thankfully, all of these deficiencies can be corrected by taking supplements.

  • Iron deficiency – take iron supplements
  • B12 deficiency – take B12 supplements
  • Folate deficiency – take folic acid supplements

Your GP may advise you to take supplements for a specified duration if a deficiency is identified.

You will likely have a repeat blood test at a later date to check if the deficiency has been remedied.

Foods rich in iron:

  • Kidney beans
  • Edamame beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Nuts
  • Dried apricots
  • Soy bean flour

Foods rich in vitamin B12:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Eggs

Food rich in folate:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Spring greens
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans

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