Lifestyle Changes to Manage Nutritional Anemia

Anemia is not really a disease in and of itself. Rather, it is a manifestation of many different conditions, each of which has its own plan of management. However, there are some lifestyle habits that will help to keep you healthy.

Nutrition

Proper nutrition is important for good health. In the case of anemia, the most important nutrients are iron, folic acid, and vitamin B 12 . Talk to your doctor about whether you need to take supplements of one or more of these nutrients.

You can enhance your intake of iron by making sure you get adequate sources of iron and vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C increases the efficiency of your body’s absorption of dietary iron. Because most grain products in the United States are fortified with folic acid , consumption of breads and pasta can improve your intake of folic acid.

Exercise

Anemia stresses your body and under some circumstances may increase requirements for iron by promoting mild blood loss from the bowel. So although exercise is beneficial, you should talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Overdoing exercise may place demands on your heart or other organs that would be harmful.

Lifestyle

Avoid tobacco products and illegal drugs and drinking excess alcohol. Try to get plenty of rest.

Self-care

Be aware that nonprescription drugs and natural remedies can play a role in the development or worsening of anemia. For example, aspirin can irritate the stomach and cause hidden bleeding that results in anemia. Talk with your doctor before taking any nonprescription drugs or herbal remedies.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Until your specific type of anemia is identified, keep in close contact with your doctor and discuss any changes in your routine or your symptoms.

Revision Information

  • American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org.

  • US Preventive Services Task Force. US Department of Health and Human Services. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstfix.htm. Accessed February 2007.