Anemia is the most common blood disorder in the country. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 3.4 million Americans suffer with some form of anemia, the symptoms of which often include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, pale skin, and cold or numb hands and feet. Headaches are another symptom, as are nails that break easily.
The goal anemia treatment is to increase the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry. This is done by raising the red blood cell count and/or hemoglobin level. Otherwise, doctors treat the underlying cause of the anemia.
Low levels of vitamins or iron in the body can cause some types of anemia. These low levels might be the result of a poor diet or certain diseases or conditions. To raise your vitamin or iron level, your doctor may ask you to change your diet or take vitamin or anemia supplements.
If you are indeed iron deficient, your doctor will probably prescribe iron supplements. Most people with mild or moderate iron deficiency anemia can correct the problem over a period of about three months, but if iron stores remain low, a few more months of supplementation may be recommended.
Strict vegetarians may need to take in higher levels of iron.
At high doses, iron is toxic. For adults and children ages 14 and up, the upper limit — the highest dose that can be taken safely — is 45 mg a day. Children under age 14 should not take more than 40 mg a day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that — starting at 4 months of age — full-term, breastfed infants should be supplemented with 1 mg/kg per day of oral iron. This should continue until iron-containing complementary foods, such as iron-fortified cereals, are introduced in the diet. Standard infant formula that contains 12 mg/L iron can fulfill the iron needs of an infant until age 1.
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