Are you feeling weak or fatigued? You may be experiencing symptoms of anemia. A low red blood count can bring about feelings of low energy and lethargy as the body must work harder to achieve enough oxygen saturation. When a person does not have enough healthy, functioning red blood cells, they have anaemia. The key role of red blood cells is to carry oxygen around the body, to where it is needed for cellular functions, and to transport unwanted carbon dioxide to the lungs, from where it can be exhaled. Millions of red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow daily and they survive for 90 to 120 days on average in the blood circulation after which they will be destroyed in the spleen and liver1. There are many different types and causes of anaemia. About 1 per cent of red blood cells are eliminated from the blood circulation and substituted every day1. Any method that has a negative effect on this delicate balance between red blood cell production and removal can cause anaemia. Some types of anaemia are mild and can be easily managed, while others can consequent potentially life-threatening health complications that may necessitate blood transfusion.
It is a serious global public health issue that predominantly affects young children and pregnant women especially from areas with poor nutritional status and low diet education. WHO estimates that 42% of children less than 5 years of age and 40% of pregnant women worldwide are anaemic.
The known major risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing anaemia include older age of 65 and above, certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, certain long-term inflammatory health conditions, such as cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, or an autoimmune disease that kills own blood cells, certain types of medications or undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy to treat cancer, a family history of genetic conditions that can cause anaemia, and eating a diet that does not include adequate iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 and drinking too much alcohol2.
Iron is an essential element that is responsible for the formation of haemoglobin. About 70 percent of body's iron is stored in the red blood cells of blood called haemoglobin and in muscle cells called myoglobin3. Haemoglobin is a protein that allows red blood cells to carry out its function4.
Signs & Symptoms
Depending on the severity of blood loss, classic signs and symptoms frequently comprise of the following5,6:
- Paleness of skin, gum and nails
- Chills or cool to touch
- Restless legs
- Shortness of breath, especially on exertion
- Chest pain and reduced exercise tolerance- with more severe anaemia
- Dizziness and fainting, especially when standing up
- Bleeding such as from injuries, operations, stomach or colon bleeding, heavy periods and childbirth
Historically, dandelion has been consumed as a health remedy for anaemia, purifying the blood, and providing immune modulation7. Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins and minerals and is markedly concentrated with vitamins A and C and iron, carrying more iron and calcium than spinach7,8. It works by supporting the production of red blood cells in the body. In a small trial with comparison of red blood cells and haemoglobin between the control group and treatment group, the dandelion treatment group displayed significant rise7.
Dates contain iron which is ample to meet the requirements of iron, vitamin C, vitamin B complex and folic acid9, so that by consuming the dates can help improve the red blood cells production and thereafter prevent anaemia. The amount of iron in dates is about 0.3 mg to 10.4 mg per 100 g10. Therefore, eating a few dates everyday will provide our bodies’ daily required iron10. Also, since dates contain vitamin C and fiber, iron absorption is very much enhanced10. The results of studies concluded that eating dates boosted significantly the levels of haemoglobin and red blood cells in all age groups9-11, without giving the usual side effect of constipation from iron tablets11.
Moringa is a known, efficacious medicinal plant used for centuries for its health benefits. Moringa provides 7 times more vitamin C than oranges, 10 times more vitamin A than carrots, 17 times more calcium than milk, 9 times more protein than yoghurt, 15 times more potassium than bananas and 25 times more iron than spinach12,13. Studies presented consumption of Moringa leaves increased the mean haemoglobin level from 11.43 to 12.36 g/dL14.
Vitamin C supports the production of blood by increasing the bioavailability of iron15. Vitamin C has been shown to improve the absorption of iron from non-haem sources by up to 4-fold16. Vitamin C and iron combine to form ferrous-ascorbate complexes that are soluble and easily absorbed. Read more about how does vitamin C enhance the absorption of iron and its other noteworthy health benefits here.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a combination of four basic strategies including iron supplementation, appropriate nutrition education, the enrichment of foods with iron compounds, and the control of parasitic and infectious diseases to prevent and control anaemia and iron deficiency anaemia17. The herbal supplements discussed in this article contain superior level of iron and vitamin C that are particularly effective in improving haemoglobin and red blood cells level.
- Franco RS. Measurement of Red Cell Lifespan and Aging. Transfus Med Hemother. 2012 Oct; 39(5): 302–307. Published online 2012 Aug 27. doi: 10.1159/000342232
- Causes and Risk Factors. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/anemia/causes. Accessed on 18/11/2022.
- Abbaspour N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R. Review on iron and its importance for human health. J Res Med Sci. 2014 Feb; 19(2): 164–174.
- Finch CA. THE ROLE OF IRON IN HEMOGLOBIN SYNTHESIS. National Library of Medicine. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Conference on Hemoglobin: 2–3 May 1957.
- Symptoms. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/anemia/symptoms. Accessed on 18/11/2022.
- Turner J. Parsi M. Badireddy M. Anemia. National Library of Medicine. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499994/. Accessed on 18/11/2022.
- Modaresi M, Resalatpour N. The Effect of Taraxacum officinale Hydroalcoholic Extract on Blood Cells in Mice. Adv Hematol. 2012; 2012: 653412. Published online 2012 Jul 12. doi: 10.1155/2012/653412.
- Ali Z. Medicinal Plants. Tehran, Iran: Tehran University Press; 1989.
- Sari A, Pamungkasari EP, Dewi YLR. The addition of dates palm (Phoenix dactylifera) on iron supplementation (Fe) increases the hemoglobin level of adolescent girls with anemia. Bali Medical Journal 7(2). August 2018. DOI:10.15562/bmj.v7i2.987
- Irandegani F, Arbabisarjou A, Ghaljaei F, Navidian A, Karajibani M. The Effect of a Date Consumption-Based Nutritional Program on Iron Deficiency Anemia in Primary School Girls Aged 8 to 10 Years Old in Zahedan (Iran). Pediatric Health Med Ther. 2019; 10: 183–188. Published online 2019 Dec 19. doi: 10.2147/PHMT.S225816.
- Indrayani I, Rahmadi A, Rakhim DA. Can date fruits and 7 dates replace iron tablets in increasing hemoglobin levels? Pakistan Journal of Medical and Health Sciences. December 2018; 12(4):1750-1759. DOI:10.5281/zenodo.2595936.
- Rockwood JL, Anderson BG, Casamatta DA. Potential uses of moringa oleifera and an examination of antibiotic efficacy conferred by M. oleifera seed and leaf extracts using crude extraction techniques available to underserved indigenous populations. International Journal of Phototherapy Research, 3 (2): 61. 2013;71.
- Estiyani A, Suwondo A, Rahayu S, Hadisaputro S, Widyawati MN, Susiloretni KA. THE EFFECT OF MORINGA OLEIFERA LEAVES ON CHANGE IN BLOOD PROFILE IN POSTPARTUM MOTHERS. Belitung Nursing Journal. 2017 June;3(3):191-197.
- Jayasree GS, Shridhar KV, Kaur M, Kaur S, Rani A. Effectiveness of drumstick leaves juice on hemoglobin level among reproductive age group women in a selected community area, Bathinda, Punjab. Indian J Public Health Res Dev. (2020) 11:9814.
- Nair KM, Iyengar V. Iron content, bioavailability and factors affecting iron status of Indians. Indian J Med Res. (2009) 130:634–45.
- Pavord S, Myers B, Robinson S, Allard S, Strong J, Oppenheimer C, et al.. UK guidelines on the management of iron deficiency in pregnancy. Br J Haematol. (2012) 156:588–600.
- Salari H, Rehani T. Influence of nutrition training and weekly iron supplementation on the rate of girl student learning of Gonabad high schools. Horizon Med Sci. 2004;10(2):11–15.