Vitamins for Anemia: Which Ones to Take and Why

Vitamins for Anemia: Which Ones to Take and Why
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Anemia affects more than 3.5 million people in the United States, according to WebMD. More than 400 different types of anemia have been identified and they are divided by how they are caused. The causes include blood loss, red blood cell destruction and faulty or decreased production of red blood cells. There are different vitamins for anemia that can help to alleviate the symptoms and help patients feel better overall.

Iron Deficiency

This is the most common type of anemia and is characterized by a deficiency of iron. Signs and symptoms may include fatigue and weakness, slowed social and cognitive development in childhood, decreased immune system, decreased school and work performance, trouble maintaining body temperature and an inflamed tongue. To help reverse an iron deficiency, it is important to get more iron in the diet. This is done with iron supplementation and iron-rich foods. In addition to iron, iron deficient patients should also ensure they are getting enough vitamin C because this nutrient helps in absorbing iron.

Vitamin Deficiency

This type of anemia is characterized by a deficiency of folate, vitamin C and vitamin B-12. Not all patients will be deficient in all three. In fact, most are only deficient in one of these vitamins. Symptoms may include fatigue, dizziness, swollen and dark tongue, diarrhea, muscle weakness, unsteady movements, shortness of breath, yellowish or pale skin, weight loss, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, irritability and forgetfulness and mental confusion. Supplementation and foods rich in the vitamin the patient is deficient in is how this type of anemia is treated. In the case of vitamin B-12, B-12 shots may be recommended in severe cases.

Copper Deficiency

Copper is a mineral that is essential for the cells in the body to work correctly. Copper also works to ensure the body properly uses and absorbs iron properly. Copper deficiency is rare, but when it occurs it may cause anemia, immune system impairment, weakness, skin sores, breathing difficulties and cholesterol problems. If a person is deficient in copper, supplementation and copper-rich foods, such as seeds, organ meats and nuts should be consumed to bring the levels back to a safe level.

Sickle Cell Anemia

This is an inherited form of anemia in which the red blood cells take on a sickle or crescent shape. This is a very serious form of anemia that can be fatal. There are a variety of vitamins for anemia that are beneficial for this type. Vitamins E and C are believed to help reduce the risk of having a crisis. The B vitamins are critical in maintaining healthy homocysteine levels. Patients should also be careful to not get too much iron. Zinc and magnesium are also important for patients with sickle cell anemia.


University of Maryland Medical Center. (2009). Anemia. Retrieved on May 17, 2011 from the University of Maryland Medical Center:

WebMD. (2011). Understanding Anemia – The Basics. Retrieved on May 17, 2011 from WebMD:

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