Celiac and Anemia

When I was a little girl, I suffered with anemia and had to take the most foul tasting medicine called “Jefferon”

What caused this anemia, you ask?

I believe it was malnutrition due to Celiac disease.

Anemia is a condition that results from a decrease in the size or number of red blood cells.

This decrease is caused by a lack of iron folate or vitamin B12 in the body.

Iron deficiency anemia (which is what I had) leaves you feeling weak, fatigued, irritability, headaches, brittle nails, pale skin, a decrease in attention span in children, decrease in appetite and increased susceptibility to infection.

Folate deficiency anemia can cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears) irregular heartbeat, sore tongue, cracked lips, weakness, fatigue, headaches, pale skin, brittle nails, irritability, and greater risk of infection.

Vitamin B12 is crucial for the development and growth of the red blood cells. A lack of B12 can cause an unsteady gait (ataxia)

People with Celiac disease are quite often diagnosed with anemia due to the damage caused to the lower part of the small intestine. This is one of the areas where vitamin B12 is absorbed.

Iron and folate are absorbed in the upper two parts of the intestines where damage occurs from the early stages of CD.

Once the CD patient begins a gluten free diet, the intestines can heal. Once healed the intestines begin to absorb iron, folate and B12 and the anemia can be beaten.  This does not happen overnight, however. Anemia symptoms could last for anywhere from 2 to 18 months after gluten has been removed from the diet.

I highly recommend that everyone try to eat foods high in these nutrients.

Iron can be found in liver, lean meat, seafood, poultry, legumes and dark green veggies.

Iron absorption can be increased by taking vitamin C or eating citrus or greens with iron rich foods.  Iron in animal products are absorbed  at a higher rate than iron in veggies.

High amounts of iron can cause constipation, so you will want to be sure to take in more fibre and lots of water.

Foods high in B12 include all animal products. (Vegans will require supplementation and should consult a physician)

Green leafy veggies, orange juice, eggs, fish, dry beans, lentils, asparagus, organ meats, lean beef and broccoli all are high in folate.

If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, you would be wise to consult your health care professional for testing.

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