In microcytic anaemias, human body has smaller and fewer red blood cells. As a result, and also because of the lack of haemoglobin, red blood cells are unable to transport enough oxygen to body tissues including brain and muscles, leading to various symptoms.
Symptoms often appear at an advanced stage when the lack of normal red blood cells is affecting body tissues. Most common symptoms of microcytic anaemias may include: tiredness, fatigue, and weakness, pale skin, loss of stamina, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.
Most microcytic anaemias are caused by iron deficiency as our body needs iron to produce haemoglobin.
Iron deficiency anaemia can be caused by: refined diet leading to inadequate iron intake, drinking coffee, green and black tea after meals (they cause significant reduction of iron absorption from food), and being unable to absorb iron due to deficiency of molybdenum and conditions like celiac disease or Helicobacter pylori infection.
Also pregnancy and chronic blood loss due to frequent or heavy periods in women or by gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding caused by ulcers or inflammatory bowel disease may lead or contribute to iron deficiency and anaemia.
RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2) DEFICIENCY
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) has been shown in studies to affect the absorption and metabolism of iron. Cross-sectional population studies show a relationship between riboflavin intake and anaemia.
There is substantial evidence that problems with iron metabolism can be associated with low Molybdenum levels and low activity of enzyme zanthine oxidase (which requires presence of molybdenum) that mediates the release of iron from cellular ferritin.
EXCESS & DEFICIENCY OF COPPER
Microcytic anaemia can be also caused by copper deficiency that can be the result of excessive intake of supplemental zinc without adequate copper as zinc leads to copper deficiency.
However, at the same time also excess blood and liver copper levels can lead to anaemia as too much copper causes problems with iron metabolism.
Apart from iron deficiency other causes of microcytic anaemia may include: deficiency of vitamin C (required for iron absorption), lead toxicity, alcohol and drug use, etc.
– Take good quality iron supplements such as iron glycinate (bisglycinate) with meals until you recover from anaemia.
– Take good multivitamin (high in B vitamins) or B complex with 20-50mg of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) after first meal.
– Make sure your multivitamin contains molybdenum or take 50-500 mcg of Molybdenum till you recover from iron deficiency anaemia. After that reduce to 50-100mcg if you think you might need this mineral. Molybdenum fights anaemia by actively mobilizing iron already found in the body. It interacts with the vitamin B2 (riboflavin) to infuse iron and haemoglobin, thus contributing to the development of healthy red blood cells.
– Take 500-1000 mg of Vitamin C with every meal to help increase body’s ability to absorb iron.
– Make sure your multivitamin contains 500mcg to 1mg of Copper. In case of anaemia take 1-2 mg of Copper a day, especially if you take Zinc supplements. If you take multivitamin with zinc, check if it contains also copper. However, avoid taking too much copper as it may lead to problems with iron metabolism.
– Avoid sugar, refined white flower and white rice products as well as drinking coffee, green and black tea.
– If you take iron supplements for a longer time, take also 500-1200mg of Alpha lipoic acid a day to prevent iron toxicity and oxidative damage associated with taking excessive amounts of iron.
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
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