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National Anemia Day: What is Vitamin Deficiency Anemia – From Diagnosis to Cure, Learn All About It | health news


National Anemia Day is observed on 21st March every year. Anemia occurs when the number of red blood cells or the concentration of hemoglobin in them is less than normal. According to the World Health Organization, anemia is a serious global public health problem that particularly affects young children, menstruating adolescents and women, and pregnant and postpartum women. Dr. Sunita Verma, Director – Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, shares her insights with Zee News Digital about a special type of anemia – vitamin deficiency anemia.

Q. What is vitamin deficiency anemia?

Dr. Sunita Verma: Vitamin deficiency anemia is a type of anemia caused by insufficient levels of certain vitamins needed for red blood cell production. The most common deficiencies in this type of anemia are vitamin B12, folate (vitamin B9) and sometimes vitamin C. These vitamins are crucial for the synthesis of healthy red blood cells. If levels are low, red blood cell production is impaired, resulting in anemia.

Q. Is it different from anemia?

Dr. Sunita Verma: Yes, vitamin deficiency anemia is a subtype of anemia. Anemia is a broad term that encompasses a variety of conditions characterized by a deficiency in the number of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. Blood loss, reduced production of red blood cells (genetic conditions such as thalassemia), other nutritional deficiencies (eg iron deficiency anemia) or increased destruction of red blood cells (eg hemolytic anemia).

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Q. How is vitamin deficiency anemia diagnosed?

Dr. Sunita Verma: Diagnosis of vitamin deficiency anemia usually includes:

– Comprehensive medical history to assess symptoms and risk factors such as diet, medical conditions or medications.
– Physical examination to check for signs of anemia, including paleness, fatigue, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath.
– Laboratory tests including complete blood count (CBC) to assess red blood cell count, hemoglobin level, hematocrit and mean corpuscular volume (MCV). Specific tests may also be administered to measure serum levels of vitamin B12, folate, and sometimes vitamin C.

4. How to prevent/cure?

Dr. Sunita Verma: Prevention and management strategies for vitamin deficiency anemia include:

• Eating a balanced diet rich in foods rich in vitamin B12, folate and vitamin C. These include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, green vegetables, legumes, fortified cereals and citrus fruits.

• For individuals at risk of deficiency, such as pregnant women, vegetarians, older adults or those with malabsorption disorders, vitamin supplementation may be necessary under the direction of a health care provider.

• Treat the underlying cause of the deficiency, if identified, such as correcting dietary deficiencies, treating malabsorption disorders, or managing other medical conditions contributing to the deficiency.

• In severe deficiency or anemia, intramuscular or intravenous supplementation of vitamin B12 or folate may be needed to restore levels quickly.

• Regular monitoring of nutritional status and adherence to treatment recommendations provided by a healthcare professional.

Consultation with a health care provider is critical for a personalized evaluation, diagnosis, and management of vitamin deficiency anemia based on individual circumstances and needs.