Anaemia has been a growing health concern among women and children, and the statistics are sure to baffle you. As per the recent National Family Health Survey, 57% of women in the age group of 15-49 years suffer from iron deficiency. Moreover, 52% of pregnant women also battle this condition that poses a high risk to both the mother and baby. When there is a fall in the number of red blood cells in the body, there are long-term health implications. But what is the right way to tackle the issues, are there any specific symptoms, and why are women more susceptible to being iron-deficient?
These questions have been answered by none other than nutritionist Pooja Makhija, as part of She Studio Livogen Iron Woman, an initiative organised by Procter and Gamble Health Limited.
Understanding more about iron deficiency
Even though iron deficiency is widely prevalent, it is still a ‘silent’ condition, says Pooja. That’s because most people are unaware of the signs and symptoms, and the health issue remains unchecked. Our bodies have both functional and storage iron, and Pooja explains the difference between the two with the help of a perfect analogy.
“Functional iron is like money in your pocket, while storage iron is the money in your bank. As the iron becomes deficit, my bank account gets smaller but my pockets may be full. But when the iron reserves get depleted, so does the hemoglobin. This is known as anaemia,” she explains.
Some of the common symptoms of anaemia include:
* Paleness of skin
* Tiredness or fatigue, weakness
* Shortness of breath
* Coldness in hands and feet
* Hair loss
* Crack and ulcers in mouth
* Brittle nails
* More susceptibility to infections
* Difficulty concentrating
When any of these symptoms show up, it is essential to visit your doctor and make changes to your diet. Pooja also recommends adding an oral supplementation as advised by the doctor.
Why are women more prone to anaemia?
Pooja adds that women go through various cycles, most of which are highly demanding for their bodies. In such cases, even though there are higher demands, the supply doesn’t match up. For instance, in adolescence, there is rapid growth, which means the body requires more oxygen.
“It is also the beginning of menstruation, which is a direct way of iron loss. How we look becomes important in our adolescence. So many times, girls do not have a wholesome diet and skip meals,” she explains.
Similarly, during pregnancy and lactation, the body requires more iron, and a deficient supply can cause troubles to both the mother and the newborn baby.
What are the long-term implications and how do you tackle them?
Since anaemia can impact women’s quality of life, it reduces the potential of what they can bring to their family, society, as well as at the workplace.
“If unchecked during pregnancy, it can be dangerous for both the mother and growing fetus. Premature babies, lower body weight, and lowered immunity can be some of the long-term health implications. Whenever your body tries to give a sign, listen to them,” says Pooja.
All in all, it is also essential to follow a healthy diet, which is replete with leafy green veggies, dates, apricots, dry fruits, and raw vegetable juice.
When it comes to iron supplements, Pooja advises using Livogen, which contains a combination of iron, zinc, and folic acid. This can help to make the absorption of iron more effective.