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Anemia: how to identify the symptoms and iron supplmentation

The most common symptoms of anemia are frequent tiredness, lack of disposition and pale skin. However, the best way to confirm the disease is to do a blood test to evaluate the levels of hemoglobin in the blood. Anemia is diagnosed when the amount of hemoglobin in the blood is under 12 g / dL in women and under 13 g / dL in men.

Anemia usually arises due to a lack of iron in the body but it can also have another cause, which must be identified by the doctor, so other tests can be requested, so that the best form of treatment is chosen.

Anemia: how to identify the symptoms and iron supplmentation

If you think you may have anemia, select which symptoms you are feeling from the ones indicated below, so you can find out what your risk is:


The symptoms of anemia begin little by little, causing your body to adapt, so you may take some time to realize that the new symptoms you are experiencing are a result of a health problem.

The most common type of anemia is iron deficiency anemia, which arises due to the lack of iron in the blood, which can be caused by low iron intake or prolonged bleeding, such as a heavy period or bleeding within the digestive system, due to gastric ulcer, example. Each mL of blood lost results in a reduction of about 0.5 mg of iron in the blood.

Other conditions that can also cause iron deficiency anemia are blood donation, major surgery, hemodialysis, and high-performance sports.

How to confirm anemia

The best way to confirm the presence of anemia is to do a blood test to check the amount of hemoglobin and verify if it is lower than recommended.

The amount of hemoglobin that should be present in the blood varies according your age and certain stages of life. The following table indicates the main stages of life and the values that can indicate anemia:

Age/Stage in lifeAmount of hemoglobin
Children between 6 months and 5 years of agebelow 11 g/dL
Children between the age of 5 and 11below  11,5 g/dL
Children between the age of 12 and 14below 12 g/dL
Women who are not pregnantbelow 12 g/dL
Pregnant women

below 11 g/dL

Adult menbelow 13 g/dL

below 10 g/dL in the first 48 hours

below 12 g/dL in the first weeks

After confirming the diagnosis, the doctor may order other tests to identify the type and cause of the anemia. So, that the most appropriate treatment is started, which in the case of iron deficiency anemia is done with iron supplements, for example.

How to fight anemia

Anemia treatment is usually done by increasing the consumption of iron-rich foods such as red meats, beans, and beets, but in more severe cases the doctor may recommend taking iron supplements, and in very severe cases a blood transfusion may be necessary. However, the increase in iron consumption is always indicated.

Diet for anemia

You should eat more foods like red meats, viscera such as liver and kidneys, poultry meats, fish and dark green vegetables. People who consume animal products have a lower risk of developing iron deficiency anemia than vegetarians. So if you are a vegetarian you should be accompanied by a doctor or nutritionist to do the necessary supplementation, and the combination of the right foods is also important to ensure that the body receives the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

In addition to consuming more iron, it is also appropriate to consume in the same meal a source of vitamin C. So if you do not like to eat meat, you can eat braised cabbage and drink a glass of orange juice because vitamin C increases the absorption of iron present in cabbage, for example. Another important caution is to avoid drinking coffee or black tea after meals because they can make iron absorption difficult.

See some examples of teas and juices you can consume that help fight anemia.

Iron supplement against anemia

To treat the anemia it is recommended to take the iron supplement as follows:

  • 180 to 200 mg of elemental iron a day for adults;
  • 1.5 to 2 mg of elemental iron a day for children;

Doses should be divided into 3 to 4 shots, preferably 30 minutes before lunch and dinner.

The doctor may recommend iron supplementation during pregnancy and in pre-school children as a way of preventing anemia. The indicated dose is approximately:

  • 100 mg of elemental iron a day for pregnant women and women who breastfeed;
  • 30 mg of elemental iron a day for preschoolers and
  • 30-60 mg of elemental iron a day for school children, in periods of two to three weeks, at least 2 times a year.

After starting treatment with iron supplementation, the tests should be repeated after about 3 months, to check if the anemia has disappeared.

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