Sluggish and tired in the new year? Might be anemia

Sluggish and tired in the new year? Might be anemia

If you are a senior adult or if you have one in your life, a common health ailment to watch for is anemia.

One in six adults over 65 has anemia, a condition that stems from not having enough healthy red blood cells to carry sufficient oxygen throughout the body.

More often than not it happens because there isn’t enough iron in the body to produce healthy red blood cells. Gastrointestinal issues can prevent your body from getting iron from food.

Those over 50 years old need 8 milligrams of iron a day to stay healthy. Vegans and vegetarians may need almost twice that. Experts say that plant-eaters could need up to 15 milligrams of iron. That’s because the body absorbs just 1 to 10% of iron from plants.

Some foods can help you get your daily allotment. Breakfast cereal, oysters, white beans, lentils, tofu and beef are rich in iron.

Also noteworthy: Some medicines can raise anemia risk. In fact, a study this year found that taking a daily low-dose aspirin raised the risk by 20% in older adults. Acid reflux medicines also can interfere.

An iron supplement might be right for you. But talk to your doctor first. Iron supplements can mask the symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia, which include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and cold feet or hands.

Keep in mind that too much iron isn’t good, either. Excess iron leads to digestive problems, such as cramps and nausea, and can harm organs where iron is stored, such as the heart and liver.

As we age, ensuring our iron intake is high enough to steer clear of anemia is important, but as always, too much of a good thing … isn’t.

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