Vegetarians suffer from iron deficiency anaemia and other myths about the micronutrient deficiency busted  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Iron is one of the most important nutrients required by the body
- About 40 per cent global population, according to research, is deficinent in the nutrient
- Myths about iron deficiency anaemia, however, can increase risk of prevalence of the deficiency
New Delhi: Micronutrients and minerals are one of the most important components of our body, as they ensure various body processes essential for our survival. While some of these nutrients and minerals are produced by the body itself to an extent, most of them are provided for through the food we eat. Deficiency in any nutrient can cause inefficiency in the body function it assists, and lead to health issues.
One of the most common deficiencies reported from around the world, especially in India, is that of iron. Iron is one of the most important minerals required by the body, as it plays a very vital role in the transmission of blood from the heart to all other body parts and organs. However, according to research, iron deficiency affects about 2 billion people around the world and about 40 per cent of the global population. In India, iron deficiency anaemia is most widespread among children under the age of 3, and women.
Myths about iron deficiency anaemia may make diagnosis and treatment inaccessible
With already less access to healthcare services due to lack of money and poverty and increased risk of deficiency due to malnutrition, myths about such conditions can make it difficult for people to get a diagnosis, and treatment for the same. According to Medscape, physician education is needed to ensure greater awareness of iron deficiency and the testing needed to establish the diagnosis properly. Physician education also is needed to investigate the aetiology of iron deficiency.
5 myths about iron deficiency anaemia busted
Myth 1: Iron deficiency and anaemia are synonymous terms
One of the most common myths that surround iron deficiency anaemia is that they are fundamentally the same thing. However, it is important to understand that anaemia is a condition that can be caused due to several factors – including iron deficiency. While a deficiency in the nutrient is one of the most common causes of anaemia, it can be caused by other factors as well such as sickle-cell anaemia. Anaemia, therefore, is a condition that can be caused by iron deficiency, among other factors.
Myth 2: Vegans and vegetarians suffer from iron deficiency anaemia
While non-vegetarian food is a rich source of iron, it is not essential that anyone who does not eat non-vegetarian or animal-based food will suffer from iron deficiency anaemia at least once in their lifetime. While the fewer plant-based sources of iron do increase such risk, a healthy, balanced diet, in consultation with a nutritionist or a doctor, and use of dietary supplements if needed can help tackle the problem quickly and safely.
Myth 3: Women diagnosed with iron-deficiency anaemia cannot breastfeed
While pregnant and nursing women should take even more care than usual when it comes to their diet, it in no way means that if they have been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anaemia, they should, or can not breastfeed their babies. Consult your doctor or nutritionist to follow a diet rich in iron.
Myth 4: Vigorous exercise, play is not fit for people with iron deficiency anaemia
While people with iron deficiency may face trouble initially when it comes to vigorous exercise, as lack of iron can affect the blood flow in their body, it is important to include some form of physical activity in your routine to stay healthy. Consult with a doctor, listen to your body, and increase the intensity of exercise gradually.
Myth 5: If women have iron supplements during pregnancy, their child will not suffer from a deficiency
According to research, the iron requirement during pregnancy is increased gradually through gestation from 0.8 mg/day in the first trimester to 7.5 mg/day in the third trimester. During the entire gestation period, the average demand for absorbed iron is approximately 4.4 mg/day. During pregnancy, the absorbed iron is predominantly used to expand the woman’s erythrocyte mass, fulfil the foetus’s iron requirements and compensate for iron losses (i.e. blood losses) at delivery. Therefore, iron supplements consumed during the pregnancy are usually used up by the body during the process.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.