Anemia is an abnormally low number of red blood cells (RBCs) circulating in the blood. Symptoms of anemia are fatigue, weakness, pallor, and shortness of breath on exertion. Anemic children have difficulty concentrating, have reduced memory, and learn poorly at school. Anemia can have many causes. Chronic blood loss (e.g., from heavy menstrual periods or a peptic ulcer) can produce anemia. A common cause is a micronutrient deficency.

Diet – Anemia:

RBCs are continually produced by the bone marrow, live about 90 days, and are then broken down. Growth of RBCs requires a steady supply of nutrients. The most common nutrient deficiencies that produce anemia are iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12.1,2 Less commonly, inadequate dietary supply of vitamins A and C, several other B vitamins, and copper produces anemia.2 Anemia caused by iron and folic acid deficiency is very common among growing children and pregnant women, because their diets do not supply adequate iron and folate to meet their increased needs.3,4 People with low iron stores should not drink coffee or tea with their meals, as these beverages sharply reduce absorption of iron from foods. Vitamin C strongly promotes absorption of iron, thus a glass of orange juice or other vitamin- C rich food included with meals can be beneficial.5 In contrast, vitamin B12 deficiency is most often found in older people, many of whom absorb vitamin B12 poorly 6 because of reduced gastric function. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also occur in strict vegetarians whose diets contain little or no vitamin B12. See pages 66, 46, and 49 respectively for foods rich in iron, folate, and vitamin B12.


To prevent anemia and promote healthy development of red blood cells:

  • Vitamin B Complex Should contain at least 5 mg vitamin B6, 0.4 mg folate, and 5 μg B12 Lack of riboflavin, thiamin, folate, and vitamins B6 and B12 can all cause anemia. Particularly important during pregnancy and lactation, as well as in childhood and adolescence.
  • Multimineral supplement with iron Containing balanced amounts of all essential minerals, including 5–10 mg iron Particularly important during pregnancy and lactation, as well as in childhood and adoleseonce.
  • Vitamin A 800 μg Deficiency can contribute to anemia. Helps to move iron from storage sites in the body to the bone marrow for use in erythrocyte production.
  • Vitamin C 100 – 250 mg Deficiency can cause anemia.2,7 When taken with meals containing iron or with an iron supplement, vitamin C sharply increases absorption of iron.

To treat anemia caused by a single nutrient deficiency:

  • Iron 100–150 mg iron (in a bioavailable form such as ferrous fumarate) Iron supplements should be continued for 3–6 months after the hemoglobin level returns to normal, to refill iron stores.3 High doses of iron can block absorption of other minerals, including zinc and copper. High doses of iron should always be taken with a multimineral supplement to maintain mineral balance.
  • Folic acid 1–5 mg2 Should be taken until hemoglobin returns to normal. Should be given along with a balanced vitamin B complex containing at least 5 μg vitamin B12.
  • Vitamin B12 If caused by vitamin B12 malabsorption: 1 mg/day by intramuscular injection for 7 days, then 1mg twice a week intramuscularly for 2 months.2 If caused by dietary lack (vegetarianism): 1 mg oral vitamin B12/day for 3–6 months After stores are replenished, vitamin B12 deficiency due to malabsorption usually requires lifelong monthly injections8 or, in cases of mild malabsorption, 1 mg/day2 oral vitamin B12 to maintain status For vegetarians a daily supplement of 2–5μg vitamin B12 will usually maintain reserves.


Recommended food supplements – Anemia:

necessary iron tablets - Iron plusPower Mins - The complex formula of essential mineralsB complex vitamins for stress

Multivitamin for blood group AMultivitamin for blood group 0Multivitamin for blood group BMultivitamin for blood group AB