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What is Anaemia?

Anaemia is a condition of reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Oxygen is transported around the body by the iron-containing pigment haemoglobin in the red blood cells (erythrocytes), and released to the tissues as the blood passes through the capillaries. Oxygen-depleted red cells are returned in the veins to the right side of the heart, from where the blood is pumped to the lungs for recharging with oxygen.

Anaemia is significant not so much as a health problem in its own right, but may be an indication of an underlying condition i.e. arthritis, infection, or certain major illnesses, including cancer.

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Anaemia and Fatigue...

The most common single cause of fatigue is iron deficiency or anaemia. Fatigue is also linked with hypoglycaemia and hypothyroidism. Natural iron foods & supplements should be considered if anyone is plagued with fatigue.

Anaemia can cause tiredness & symptoms of fatigue

Iron works hand in hand with oxygen in the body. In fact, iron is responsible for attracting oxygen to the body and carrying this to all body systems, tissues and organs. Iron is the beauty element for rosy cheeks and a lovely complexion.

Symptoms of Anaemia are...

  • Unusual fatigue and a lack of energy
  • Bodily weakness
  • Breathing problems
  • Dizziness
  • Hazy thinking
  • Flatulence
  • Brittle nails
  • Sickly looking skin
  • Short attention span
  • Depression
  • Overall itching
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea after meals
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Hair loss
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Irritability


This is primarily due to poor haemoglobin synthesis and reduced oxygenation of tissues. Thus many of the symptoms of anaemia are signs of oxygen deprivation, which will also occur in high polluted areas, high altitudes and also in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Anaemia should not be left untreated. It could lead to degenerative diseases, such as arthritis, colitis, premature aging, allergies and even cancer.

Anaemia, if left too long before being treated, the following symptoms are possible:

  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Heart failure
  • Mental aberration
  • Tingling in the arms and legs
  • Heavy breathing
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Spots before the eyes


Newborn infants have 4 times the supply of iron in their body than adults have. The mother supplies the baby with enough iron, stored in the liver, for the entire first year of life. Women require more iron than men do, due to their menstrual cycle. Pregnant and lactating women should ensure a high iron content in their diet.

Some causes of Anaemia are...

Some causes of anaemia are due to a deficiency of B vitamins, such as folic acid and vitamin B12, as well as a lack of iron. The B Complex vitamins are vital in cases of anaemia. They all work together in harmony to produce red blood cells.

A deficiency of folic acid, which is one of the B vitamins, can cause anaemia, as it is essential for the formation of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow.

Vitamin B12 deficiency causes pernicious anaemia. This vitamin is found in abundance in animal protein, as well as some plant-based foods. B12 is essential in the formation of new blood cells, maintenance of growth and the myelination of nerve and brain fibres. A lack of B12 causes the destruction of blood cells quickly after formation. This is why it is vital that vegetarians, or more correctly vegans - who are those people who don't consume any animal products - supplement their diet with vitamin B12. The herbs Chlorella & Spirulina contain Vit B12.

Vitamin E is also important, as it aids in the assimilation of organic iron, organic meaning iron from plants or food supplements. However Vitamin E is destroyed by inorganic iron, such as ferrous sulphate, which is often prescribed for anaemia. Vitamin E helps iron to be absorbed by the cells.

Ferric iron, a form used in many iron supplements, is like rust and is poorly assimilated by the body. Both ferric and ferrous iron, the type that are usually added to foods to enrich them, can be deposited in the liver and can cause constipation.

A good diet helps guard against Anaemia...

Vitamin C greatly enhances the absorption of iron from plant foods. As well as this, copper and calcium, but not in excess, are essential for the proper absorption of iron.

We find that a lot of people who drink tea, coffee & chocolate products are either anaemic or iron deficient. This is because when people drink a lot of tea and coffee, inositol and biotin, which are both recognised as part of the B complex vitamins, may become deficient in the body. Being deficient in these prevents iron from being properly used and causes other vitamins to be pumped through and out of the body before they can be properly absorbed. As well as this, the tannin and caffeine in these products acts like a magnet and binds with vitamins and minerals and eliminates these from the body. So this is something to watch. Ideally we should not drink tea or coffee for up to 1 hour after a meal.

Anaemia - natural sources of iron...

Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are a good way to supply your body with instant iron. The duodenum, which is the first and shortest part of the small intestines, absorbs iron after the stomach has converted it to iron chloride. Iron extracted from juices is held in the duodenum long enough to allow for it to be absorbed, where much solid food passes through the duodenum, with the iron still intact.

Juices have their uses in Anaemia...

Juices that are particularly beneficial are Beetroot juice. This is one of the best juices for helping to build up the red blood cell count in anaemia and improve the blood generally. This is too strong to drink by itself but is good added to other juices, such as carrot. Parsley can also be added to this, as it is also very high in iron, as are grapes and most other greens.

High altitudes release iron stores in the liver...

This is an unusual one, but in cases of anaemia or iron depletion, going for a walk up a hill or mountain is good. This is because high altitude releases the reserves of iron in the liver and other storage organs - providing that there is sufficient iron in storage.

Iron rich foods are particularly good for anaemia...

Black cherries
Any black berries
Dried fruits like prunes
Any greens

If you don't like the taste of kelp, you can sprinkle it into soups or stews or you can take it as a supplement.

Other Good Food Sources of Iron are:

Liver (however, I would be very careful about eating liver, as this is the filter for all the toxins in the body and liver can have accumulated toxins in it)
Blackstrap molasses
Pine nuts
Soy beans
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Iron-rich Herbal Supplements for Anaemia...

Chlorella is an excellent supplement to help in cases of anaemia, as is Spirulina, Beetroot and Alfamax. Herbs we can take that are high in iron are any greens from the garden, such as parsley, peppermint, chickweed, garlic, ginger, red clover, rosemary, rose hips, yarrow and yellow dock.

Superior Iron is our our iron supplement containing iron bisglyconate, shown to raise haemoglobin levels as efficiently as 4 times the dose of some other forms of iron (ferrous sulphate). Also contains co factors needed for an even better absorption.

Iron Plus and Women's Iron Complex are 2 iron formulas we stock that contain a combination of iron bisglycinate (a superior form of iron), vitamin C, vitamin B12 and folic acid. Women's Iron also contains the herbs Dong Quai and Red Raspberry. Both are high quality, well balanced tablets.

Ironurse is a blackberry-fruit syrup made from organically-grown Nelson berries, home-grown Stinging Nettles and Willow Leaf. Each of these herbs are analytically proven high-iron content plants, also collectively, extremely high organic silica-rich plants, the prime minerals for good blood and cell tissue building.

Beet Root can be purchased in a liquid concentrate. Beet Root is a good source of minerals, particularly an easy to assimilate iron. It contains vitamins A, B and C, sodium, potassium, calcium and chlorine and has shown strong potential in increasing the oxygenation of tissues.

Alfamax is a highly concentrated extract, made from the leaves of fresh green alfalfa, which is then powdered and encapsulated. It is a protein-rich food, containing enzymes, chlorophyll, all the known vitamins and many organic minerals. The prominent minerals are potassium, iron, sodium, copper, chlorine, silicon, sulfur, magnesium and calcium.

Note: The recommendations and suggestions are general guidelines only and individual dosages may vary. In all cases of acute illness and anaemia you should seek the advice of a registered health practitioner.

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

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