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The debate about the necessity of taking dietary supplements is still alive. While numerous doctors maintain we get all that we require from the foods we eat, others prefer to offer supplementary vitamins when their patients are under stress such as pregnancy, illness or even aging.

Studies have shown that taking supplementary B group vitamins, specifically folic acid and B12 have reduced birth defects from 72 to 100%. Since regulations authorizing the addition of folic acid to grains have come into play, the incidence of birth defects in the United States has lessened by 19%, though skeptics claim there could be alternate reasons.

- Symptoms of folate deficiency.

If your tongue is swollen and you suffer from loss of appetite, shortness of breath, are irritable, forgetful and mentally sluggish, you may have a folate deficiency. Folic acid is one of the B group of vitamins. Most animal and plant foods are poor sources of it. The exception is liver which most folks do not eat a lot of these days.

Various habits and diseases also play a greater share in causing a lack of this vitamin. Celiac disease, alcoholism and irritable bowel syndrome just to name a few. Studies have also suggested that when ageing individuals suffer from depression it may be caused by a lack of folate vitamin B9.

Folate should be taken with B6 And B12 vitamins to help its absorption and function in the body. These three vitamins work together to help relieve symptoms of depression. They do this by lowering the amount of homocysteine, which is thought to play an active roll in causing depression.

Several population-based studies around the United States have shown that various cancers are less ubiquitous in people who have high levels of folic acid. These people consumed high amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber. One study of 50,000 women revealed that adequate consumption of folate significantly reduced the chances of breast cancer.

Some prescription medications for inflammatory bowel disease have been found to interfere with the bodies proficiency to absorb folate. This deficiency has as well been linked to male infertility and heart disease. Foods that offer the most folic acid are dark leafy greens, brewers yeast, beef liver, various seafood, orange juice and milk. Root vegetables and whole grains also provide diminutive amounts.

Side effects from folic acid supplements are uncommon, though they can occur if the dose exceeds 15000 mcg per day. Taking any one of the B group of vitamins alone can cause a deficiency in the others. Find out if you actually do need it and make certain your doctor knows you plan to take it. Some prescription medication like antibiotics and warfarin can interact adversely to this supplement, while others like ibuprofen and aspirin may cause a deficiency.

Methotrexate, used to treat some cancer and rheumatoid arthritis elevates the body’s need for folic acid. Its side-effects are largely reduced by the addition of this vitamin without impairing its advantage, so if you must take this drug, be sure see your doctor about adding folic acid to your diet.

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  • Filed under: Anemia
  • Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid – both are needed for the normal formation of red blood cells. An inadequate dietary intake of either of these two B vitamins results in faulty cell division and large, misshapen red blood cells that are unable to transport oxygen.

    1. A deficiency of folic acid may contribute to megaloblastic anemia
    2. A deficiency of vitamin B12 may contribute to megaloblastic anemia
    3. Copper, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6 – are needed for the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells, and a long-term deficiency of one or more of these nutrients results in anemia. Vitamin C is necessary for optimal absorption of iron.
    4. A deficiency of copper may contribute to early hypochromic anemia or microcytic anemia
    5. A deficiency of vitamin C may contribute to anemia as a symptom of scurvy. An abundant supply of vitamin C is needed to hold iron in the body
    6. A deficiency of vitamin B6 may contribute to microcytic anemia
    7. A deficiency of vitamin E may contribute to hemolytic anemia

    Vitamin E – is necessary for the protection of red blood cells once they are formed. This antioxidant protects red blood cell membranes and inadequate dietary intake of this fat-soluble vitamin results in hemolytic anemia.

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  • Anemia is often the last stage of iron deficiency. An iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia. Most of the body’s reserves of iron are stored in the liver. Consider working on improved liver function.

    Ideally, supplementary iron should be taken by itself or with vitamin C between meals for maximum absorption. Calcium, particularly calcium phosphate, zinc, and antacids interfere with the absorbability of iron and should be taken separately. Available iron supplements include ferrous fumarate, ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate and carbonyl iron, also know as micronized elemental iron. Carbonyl iron is a good delivery form of iron but requires hydrochloric acid for its absorption and therefore needs to be taken with meals. Other iron supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach. Excess iron has been linked to cancer.
    Chelated Iron contains the mineral already bound to amino acids for improved assimilation.

    A deficiency of iron may contribute to hypochromic anemia or microcytic anemia.
    It may be best to take others minerals, especially calcium and zinc which reduce iron absorption, at a different time than your separate iron supplement. You need adequate stomach acid to assimilate iron. Do not use iron supplements if anemia is thaltassemia, a hereditary form common in Mediterranean and Southeast Asia populations.

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  • Dietary Suggestions: Include broccoli, egg yolks, kelp, leafy greens, peas, parsley, prunes, raisins, rice bran, whole grains, food with high vitamin C content. Fish eaten with vegetables increases iron absorption.

    Some foods contain oxalic acid, which interferes with iron absorption and should be eaten in moderation. These foods include almonds, asparagus, beets, cashews, chocolate, soda, sorrel, spinach, most nuts and beans. Additives found in beer, candy bars, dairy products, ice cream, soft drinks interfere with iron absorption, as do tannins in tea and polyphenols in coffee.

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  • Menorrhagia: Excess menstrual blood loss can produce iron deficiency anemia. Anemia can produce menorrhagia.

    Supplementing iron may be dangerous for people with hemochromatosis, hemosiderosis, polycythemia, and iron-loading anemias (such as thalassemia and sickle cell anemia) which involve excessive storage of iron. Only individuals who have been diagnosed with iron deficiency should take iron supplements.

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  • Filed under: Anemia
  • Evidence shows that people who suffer from the following serious diseases are at greatest risk of developing anemia:

    1. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
    2. Diabetes
    3. Cancer
    4. Heart Disease
    5. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
    6. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

    Also at risk are:

    1. People over the age of 65
    2. People with HIV/AIDS
    3. Patients undergoing surgery
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  • There are close to 100 different types of anemia with many causes, including:

    1. Serious disease
    2. Vitamin or iron deficiencies
    3. Blood loss
    4. Genetic or acquired defects or disease
    5. Side effects of medication
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  • Clinical Tests for Anemia

    Clinical tests for anemia include the hematocrit, which measures the amount of packed red blood cells per measured volume of blood; and the hemoglobin test, which measures the amount of the oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells.

    Anemia can result from any one of a number of conditions: severe blood loss from an accident; low-grade, chronic internal bleeding; long-term marginal nutrient deficiencies, including poor dietary intake; impaired absorption of nutrients; or faulty use of the nutrient within the body, often due to long-term use of medication.

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  • Anemia is a condition in which the blood is deficient in red blood cells or in the hemoglobin (iron containing and oxygen/carbon dioxide-transporting) portion of red blood cells. When the blood can not transport enough oxygen from the lungs to cells and carbon dioxide builds up from not being transported back to the lungs, the results are extreme fatigue.

    Anemia is a blood condition in which the number and\or size of red blood cells is altered, which reduces the amount of oxygen the blood is able to carry.
    Some results or symptoms of anemia include lethargy, weakness, poor concentration, pale complexion, increased susceptibility to colds and infection, headaches, loss of appetite, irritability, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, and mild depression.

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