What is Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA)?
Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. It is the most common type of anaemia seen in Indian women during pregnancy and lactation, it is also commonly seen in young children and adolescent girls.
Root Cause of IDA
Iron deficiency anaemia usually occurs due to heavy blood loss (heavy periods, internal bleeding due to peptic ulcers, hiatal hernias, etc). It is seen in people with conditions such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids. A diet poor in iron (vegetarian diet) or inability to absorb iron from the diet (due to intestinal diseases or surgeries) can also lead to iron deficiency. IDA is also observed in frequent blood donors.
Some of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency that go unnoticed are extreme fatigue, poor focus and concentration, hair loss, pale and dry skin, cold hands and feet, restless leg syndrome, and heart palpitations.
Blood parameters to keep in check (Normal Range in women)
- Iron (11- 16 gm/dl)
- Ferritin (10-120ng/ml)
- Haemoglobin (12-16 gm/dl)
Daily Requirement of Iron
The average daily iron intake is 11.5–13.7 mg/day in children aged 2–11 years, 15.1 mg/day in children and teens aged 12–19 years, and 16.3–18.2 mg/day in men and 12.6–13.5 mg/day in women.
Types of Iron
There are two types of iron, heme iron and non heme iron. Heme iron is derived from animal food sources and non-heme iron is derived from vegetarian food sources. The richest sources of heme iron in the diet include lean meat and seafood. Dietary sources of nonheme iron include nuts, beans, vegetables, and fortified grain products.
Bioavailability of Iron
Heme iron has higher bioavailability than non heme iron. The bioavailability of iron is approximately 14% to 18% from mixed diets that include substantial amounts of meat, seafood, and vitamin C (which enhances the bioavailability of nonheme iron) and 5% to 12% from vegetarian diets.
Foods that can hinder iron absorption
Foods containing phytates (cereals and grains), calcium (milk and dairy) and polyphenols (tea and coffee) can hinder iron absorption.
- Iron is available in many dietary supplements. Multivitamin/multimineral supplements with iron, especially those designed for women, typically provide 18 mg iron.
- Frequently used forms of iron in supplements include ferrous and ferric iron salts, such as ferrous sulphate, ferrous gluconate, ferric citrate, and ferric sulphate. Because of its higher solubility, ferrous iron in dietary supplements is more bioavailable than ferric iron.
- Remember that high doses of supplemental iron (45 mg/day or more) may cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea and constipation.
Indian foods rich in iron
Foods rich in iron that are commonly available in your Indian households and should be consumed more frequently than ever. Foods such as aliv seeds (Check out the aliv ladoo blog for recipe!), millets like ragi, bajra, spices like turmeric powder, hing, mango powder (amchur), and mustard seeds, fruits like watermelon, pomegranate, leafy greens and vegetables such as curry leaves, mints leave, amaranth leaves, beetroot and non-vegetarian sources such as egg yolk, organ meat and chicken breast are rich sources of iron.
Consuming vitamin C rich foods can help increase the bioavailability of iron from the food. Foods rich in vitamin C are alma, guava, strawberries, and citrus fruits such as lime and oranges.
Making use of cast iron cookware to cook food increases the iron content of the food
- For making rotis, parathas and dosa iron tawa can be used
- Iron Kadhai can be used for for preparing veggies/ curries
- Iron Laddle can be used to stir the food
- Always avoid adding sour ingredients like lemon while cooking in cast iron cookware