What Could Be The Cause Of Anemia – Globally, anemia affects 1.62 billion people, or 24.8% of the population. Children of preschool age have the highest percentage of anemia among their population, or 47.4%. However, non-pregnant women are more common overall with approximately 468.4 million women worldwide suffering from anemia (3).

As a physician, I see many clients who struggle with anemia and its side effects. I have noticed that it is especially common in people who have yeast or bacterial overgrowth, follow a vegetarian diet, or consume anti-inflammatory foods.

What Could Be The Cause Of Anemia

What Could Be The Cause Of Anemia

I have seen improvement in clients who take the initiative to look for the root cause of their anemia and address the diet as needed or include supplementation as needed.

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Anemia is characterized by reduced production of red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to our tissues as well as removing carbon dioxide, a waste product, from our tissues and eliminating it through the kidneys or lungs.

Anemia can become dangerous when oxygenation and waste removal are impaired enough to cause symptoms (4

It has been known to cause permanent cognitive impairment and delayed physical development in infants if left untreated. The simple solution is usually supplemental iron.

However, if iron deficiency is not the source of the problem, it can lead to iron overload and still leave the person suffering from anemia and its effects. Therefore, it is extremely important to figure out the type and cause of each case of anemia and address the underlying problem (5).

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This article will discuss the different types of anemia, how to distinguish between them through testing, and solutions to resolve anemia.

1. Microcytic Anemia (Iron Deficiency):  This is the most common type of anemia worldwide. It is characterized by small, often too small (pale), red blood cells in the peripheral blood smear. This type of anemia is mostly caused by iron deficiency; this deficiency occurs either because the body does not get enough iron or it does not absorb it properly.

Iron is essential for hemoglobin production, and without it, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin to make healthy red blood cells (5).

What Could Be The Cause Of Anemia

2. Megaloblastic (vitamin deficiency) anemia:  In addition to iron, the body needs folate and vitamin B-12 to produce enough healthy red blood cells. A diet lacking these and other key nutrients can cause reduced red blood cell production. Additionally, some people may consume enough B-12, but their bodies are unable to process the vitamin. This can lead to vitamin deficiency anemia, also known as pernicious anemia (9).

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3. Anemia due to chronic diseases:  Certain diseases – such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, Crohn’s disease and other chronic inflammatory diseases – can interfere with the production of red blood cells.

4. Dysplastic Anemia:  This rare, life-threatening anemia occurs when the body does not produce enough red blood cells. Causes of aplastic anemia include infections, certain medications, autoimmune disorders, and exposure to toxic substances.

5. Anemia Related to Bone Marrow Disease:  Various diseases, such as leukemia and myeloblastoma, can cause anemia by affecting blood production in your bone marrow. The effects of these types of cancer and cancer-like disorders vary from mild to life-threatening.

6.  Hemolytic anemia:  This group of anemia occurs when red blood cells are destroyed faster than the bone marrow can replace them. Certain blood disorders increase the destruction of red blood cells. You can inherit anemic anemia, or you can develop it later in life. This is usually the result of an autoimmune problem where a person’s immune system attacks their own tissue-producing red blood cells.

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7. Sickle Cell Anemia:  This inherited and sometimes serious condition is hereditary hemolytic anemia. It is caused by a defective form of hemoglobin that forces red blood cells to take on an abnormal crescent (sickle). These irregular blood cells die prematurely, leading to a chronic shortage of red blood cells.

Diagnosing anemia and then differentiating between the causes can be a challenge, but it is important to identify the root cause of anemia in order to treat it appropriately. The most accurate test is a bone marrow test, but this is expensive and invasive.

The most effective and non-invasive way to test for iron deficiency anemia is by looking at ferritin, serum iron, total iron binding capacity and MCV levels in a blood sample (6). Other reliable indicators that help in diagnosis are: hemoglobin, blood cells, MCH, MCHC, red blood cells.

What Could Be The Cause Of Anemia

1. Ferritin: This is a blood cell protein that contains iron. This is the most reliable indicator of total iron status in the body. When it is low, it indicates an iron deficiency. (7). This is the first sign of early iron deficiency. However, ferritin is an acute phase substrate and is elevated in inflammatory conditions. In inflammatory diseases where iron is elevated, it is important to evaluate total iron binding capacity to diagnose iron deficiency. Clinical ranges are between 15-150 ng/ml while functional ranges are between 50-150 for women and 75-150 for men.

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2. Serum iron: This is the amount of iron in the blood that is bound to transferrin and is not an accurate representation of the total iron present in the body. Ferritin is a better indicator of iron deficiency because iron is bound in different forms that vary widely. However, if this is low, it is considered to be one of the indicators of iron deficiency anemia. Serum iron is elevated with hemochromatosis, which occurs when the body is overloaded with iron. The experimental range for serum iron is 27-159 ug/dL, while the functional range is 85-130 ug/dL.

3. Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC): This measures the ability of red blood cells to bind to transferrin. This will increase in iron deficiency, pregnancy and blood loss. Low TIBC can also occur in chronic diseases, increased iron overload, liver disease, and infections (8). TIBC may be normal in anemia associated with chronic disease. The clinical laboratory range for TIBC is 250-450 ug/dL while practicing professionals want to see this in the 250-350 ug/dL range for optimal health.

4. Hemoglobin: Hemoglobin (Hgb) carries oxygen to the cells and carries carbon dioxide to the lungs for exhalation. This value can be low in iron deficiency anemia and high in iron overload. For anemia, most labs flag this if the level is below 11.1 g/dL. For functional Hgb, the ideal ranges are between 13.5-14.5 for women and 14-15 for men.

5. Blood cells: This is the total blood volume that consists of red blood cells. This can be low in iron deficiency anemia or if excessive bleeding has occurred. This value can be high during times of dehydration or polycythemia, which is an overproduction of hemoglobin. Clinical laboratories range from 34-46.6%. The field of work for men is 39-45%, while for women it is between 37-44%.

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6. MCH: MCH stands for mean corpuscular hemoglobin. This is the average mass of hemoglobin per red blood cell. High levels indicate megaloblastic anemia associated with folate or B12 deficiency. Low levels indicate microcytic anemia, which is usually associated with blood loss or low iron levels. Clinical labs are in the range of 26-33 pg while the functional ranges for optimal health are between 28-32 pg.

7. MCHC: MCHC stands for Mean Hemoglobin Concentration. This is the average concentration of hemoglobin in red blood cells. A decrease in MCHC is indicative of hyperpigmentation or iron deficiency anemia. A high MCHC level indicates a methylation problem and is megaloblastic anemia. Research range is between 31.5 – 35.7 g/dL. Functional range is between 32-35 g/dL.

8. Red blood cells are the cells designed to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide. This level may be low due to blood loss or may be associated with hemolytic anemia, which is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own red blood cells. For anemia, most labs flag these if they are below 3.77 x10E6/uL. For practical analysis we would like to see these in the range of 4-5 x10E6/uL.

What Could Be The Cause Of Anemia

9. MCV: MCV stands for mean body volume and is the mean volume of red blood cells. A low MCV is associated with microcytic, or iron-deficient, red blood cells. A high MCV is associated with red blood cells that are megaloblastic, or vitamin deficient. Labs will flag this if it is between 79-97 fl. From a practical point of view we would like to see it between 85-92 fl.

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You can see the development of anemia during laboratory work in various stages. Once you understand these phases, you should be able to detect this condition much earlier than conventionally trained doctors. Here’s the breakdown:

Phase I:  Early depletion of iron stores is characterized by low ferritin levels. All other iron and blood markers are usually normal but may even be slightly elevated.

Stage II:  Iron deficiency without anemia is characterized by low ferritin, low iron, low iron saturation, and high total iron binding capacity.

Stage III:  Iron deficiency anemia (microcytic) is characterized by low RBC, hemoglobin, hematocrit, MCV, MCH, MCHC, ferritin, iron, iron saturation, and elevated TIBC.

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Stage IV: Megaloblastic anemia is characterized by high MCV, MCH, and MCHC, and the individual needs B12, folate, and B6 (9).

The Universal

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