Do you suspect you may have anemia? Go to your doctor and remember that there are many types of anemia, each with a different cause. Anemia is a condition characterized by the reduction in the ability of red blood cells to deliver adequate oxygen to the tissues. But what exactly is a red blood cell? And hemoglobin? How many types of anemia are there? We will try our best to answer these questions in the following article.
Red blood cells and types of anemia
Red blood cells are the cells that give blood its red color. They do not have a cell nucleus and are full of a red protein called hemoglobin.
Although many parts of the body help with the production of red blood cells, most of the work is done in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft tissue that settles at the center of our bones. Circulating cells in the blood are formed in the bone marrow.
Healthy red blood cells live for 90 to 120 days. After this time, they are eliminated. A hormone produced in the kidneys, called erythropoietin, signals the bone marrow to make more red blood cells.
Formation of red blood cells requires vitamin B9 or folate and vitamin B12. Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells. Its red color is due to its high iron content. Most often, people with different types of anemia do not have enough hemoglobin.
Anemia and its types
First, we need to know what’s normal when it comes to hemoglobin levels. Normal values of plasma hemoglobin concentration in women are above 12 g / dl, in pregnant women the limit is 11 g / dl. For men, the hemoglobin concentration limit is 13 g / dL.
There are so many types of anemia, each one is with a different cause. Anemia may be temporary or long-term and may be mild to severe. Consult your doctor if you suspect you have anemia as this may indicate a serious illness.
There are many different types of anemia, including:
- Iron deficiency anemia. This is the most common type of anemia.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. It causes excessive size of the red blood cells. It is known as megaloblastic anemia.
- Anemia caused by a deficiency of folic acid (folate). It also causes red blood cells to become excessively large. It is also referred to as megaloblastic anemia.
- Anemia due to chronic disease. Idiopathic aplastic anemia. It includes myelodysplastic anemia caused by changes in the progenitor stem cell.
- Types of anemia associated with other pathological situations. It is a case of secondary anemia caused by liver disease or hypothyroidism or ingestion of toxic substances such as alcohol, anemia secondary to toxic substances.
Pernicious anemia, one of the anemia with internal causes
As we mentioned above, the body needs certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to make enough red blood cells. The three most important ones are iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid.
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Pernicious anemia occurs when the gut cannot properly absorb vitamin B12, leading to some type of megaloblastic anemia. Most often, the cause of this anemia is functional, but sometimes it is also dietary.
The most common causes of anemia
The body may not have enough essential nutrients due to:
- Changes in the stomach or intestinal mucosa can affect nutrient absorption. This happens, for example, in people with celiac disease.
- Bad diet. In this case, the cause may be a lack of iron, vitamin B12 deficiency, folic acid deficiency.
- An operation to remove part of the stomach or intestines.
- Certain medications.
- Your red blood cells die earlier than usual (which may be due to problems with the immune system).
- Long-term or chronic diseases such as chronic kidney disease, cancer, ulcerative colitis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Unfortunately, people can inherit certain types of anemia, such as thalassemia or sickle cell anemia.
- Bone marrow problems such as lymphoma, leukemia, myelodysplasia, multiple myeloma, or aplastic anemia.
- Hemorrhagic conditions. It causes slow blood loss (from heavy periods or stomach ulcers, for example). Other conditions that can cause you to suddenly lose a large amount of blood.
Vitamin B12 and vitamin B9 deficiency cases .
It is possible that a vitamin B12 deficiency may be the result of a lack of an adequate supply of special protein in the diet. Intrinsic factor deficiency may be secondary to another gastrointestinal pathology such as atrophic gastritis or an autoimmune condition.
Vitamin B12 ad B9 deficiency in the diet is also associated with nutritional reasons independent of the gastric secretion function.
Since the two vitamins have common functions, their deficiency causes the same type of megaloblastic anemia. This means that the mechanisms for this type of anemia are the same, no matter what vitamin your body lacks. In this sense, is it possible that megaloblastic anemia is actually masking the vitamin B12 deficiency?
Naturally, vitamin B12 can be found in animal products such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and dairy products. So vegan diets are devoid of vitamin B12-rich foods.
At the same time, these diets are rich in products of plant origin, a source of vitamin B9. Therefore, a person can have high levels of folic acid while also being anemic, even if laboratory results do not show it.
For this reason, a person on a vegan diet must monitor the analytical values of homocysteine and methylmalonic acid in their body to rule out masking.
In short, the different types of anemia can be very common and it’s important to know how to prevent and identify them. Knowing their causes is a great first step to realizing that something in our body may be wrong.
If you are concerned that you do not know if you are getting enough vitamins from the food you eat, ask your doctor if you should take adequate supplementation.