A condition in which the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is reduced. It may be caused by a deficiency of one or more of the nutrients required for red blood cell formation, or by excessive bleeding or the abnormal destruction of red blood cells.
Symptoms of anaemia may include fatigue, breathlessness on exertion, dizziness and pallor.
Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia. Other nutritional anaemias include folic acid, vitamin B2, vitamin B6 (sometimes associated with taking the contraceptive pill), vitamin B12, vitamins C and E, copper, zinc and protein, in which deficiencies of these nutrients result in inadequate red blood cell formation.
Macrocytic anaemia, characterized by reduced numbers of abnormally large, malformed red blood cells, is caused by vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies.
Pernicious anaemia, caused by a failure to absorb vitamin B12 (often because of a lack of intrinsic factor) is a type of macrocytic anaemia.
Sickle cell anaemia is due to abnormal haemoglobin which results in distortion and fragility of red blood cells. Both sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia (Mediterranean anaemia) may respond to high doses of vitamin E daily.
Information compiled by Linda Lazarides
Naturopathic Nutritionist, Author, Educator