Iron Deficiency

Anaemia is a condition in which the blood cannot carry enough oxygen, either because there is a low number of red blood cells or because each red blood cell is able to carry less oxygen than normal. There are many different types of anaemia with different causes. Iron deficiency is a common cause.

Anaemia due to iron deficiency

Iron is the main component of haemoglobin. Lack of dietary i ron is the world’s leading nutritional deficiency and the most common cause of anaemia. Other vitamins that are needed for the body to make red blood cells include folate (folic acid) and vitamin B12. A lack of these in the diet can cause anaemia. For more information about these, please see the separate BUPA factsheets on Folate-deficiency anaemia and Vitamin B12-deficiency anaemia.

Causes of iron-deficiency anaemia

A common cause of iron-deficiency anaemia in women is heavy periods (menorrhagia). About 1 in 10 women become anaemic at some time in their life due to heavy periods.

Stomach ulcers, piles, ulcerative colitis (inflammation of the colon) and bowel cancer may cause bleeding in the gut and result in anaemia. Often the bleeding is not obvious because the blood is passed unnoticed in the stools.

Kidney or bladder disease can cause bleeding that can result in anaemia. The blood may be passed unnoticed in the urine.

Some bowel conditions, such as coeliac disease (gluten sensitivity) or chronic diarrhoea, cause poor absorption of foods containing iron.

Low dietary iron can lead to anaemia, although there are many sources of iron, including meat, green vegetables, milk, flour and eggs.

Pregnancy can lead to iron-deficiency anaemia, because the growing baby needs iron and takes its supply from the mother. Iron deficiency is more likely to develop during pregnancy in women whose diet does not contain plenty of iron.

Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or cancer, can lead to iron-deficiency anaemia. In this case adequate iron is present in the diet, but the developing red blood cells in the bone marrow cannot use the iron properly.

Long-term aspirin-taking is associated with iron-deficiency anaemia because it can cause bleeding in the stomach without any symptoms.

Hookworm infection can cause iron-deficiency anaemia, and is the most common cause worldwide. People who live in or travel to tropical countries are at risk of hookworm infection. Hookworms feed off blood inside the intestines.



People with iron-deficiency anaemia have symptoms caused by a low level of oxygen in the blood. These include:

rapid, weak pulse or palpitations


Less common symptoms can include tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and altered taste.


As well as having the symptoms of anaemia, people with iron deficiency may have pale skin, brittle nails, cracked lips and an inflamed tongue. Very rarely, people get pica, which is a craving for non-food substances such as ice.


Occasionally, in women over 40, iron deficiency can be a symptom of a condition called Plummer-Vinson syndrome. This also causes swallowing difficulties and occasionally web-like growths in the oesophagus.


Iron deficiency can also reduce attention span, cause behavioural and developmental problems in young children and weaken the immune system.




Treatment depends on the cause of anaemia. For many people the treatment is iron tablets. The length of treatment with iron depends on how severe the anaemia is. The blood may be tested after a few weeks to check that the level of haemoglobin is returning to normal. Once the haemoglobin level is back to normal, iron supplements may still be advised for another three months. A diet high in iron will also be recommended.

Anyone who has difficulty absorbing iron may need iron injections instead of tablets.


Iron supplements can have side-effects. These include constipation, diarrhoea, an upset stomach or feeling sick. The stools may also turn black.

If there is an underlying cause, such as bleeding, this needs to be treated.




The best way to prevent iron-deficiency anaemia is to eat a diet containing plenty of iron. The recommended daily amount is 7mg a day for men and 11mg a day for women. It’s a good idea to eat foods containing vitamin C at the same time as eating non-meat sources of iron because this helps with iron absorption. Good sources of vitamin C include peppers, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, oranges and kiwi fruit. Women who have heavy periods should consider taking an iron supplement. Speak to your GP or contact a dietician for more information.


WHO – FAO report on nutrition deficiency-related diseases.


Introducing Beet It Supplement

beet it

  • Organic beetroot juice

Beet It organic beetroot juice is blended with 10% apple juice to smooth the earthy aftertaste of beetroot and create a really delicious drink.

Beetroot doesn’t feature highly on most of our diets and the idea of drinking beetroot juice probably doesn’t excite anyone too much, but this fabulous deep purple juice with a surprisingly sweet, and slightly earthy yet rich taste is a great drink for all occasions.

Our Organic shot is a 70ml shot of concentrated organic beetroot juice (98%) cut with concentrated organic lemon juice (2%), made from concentrates. Used by health-conscious individuals of all ages, the Organic shot contains 0.3g natural dietary nitrate per shot; there are no added preservatives. It was developed in conjunction with the Medical Research teams at the William Harvey Research Institute and Exeter University. Their work with Beet It shots has attracted widespread press interest. The nitrate level in the Organic shots is approximately equivalent to 300ml single strength beetroot juice – although the nitrate content in the single strength juice varies widely from crop to crop.

We are proud to supply our Organic and Sport shots to over 150 research universities and institutes throughout the world that are currently researching the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway for both medical and sport studies. For more information, visit the Beet It Sport website.


Top Supplements For Kidney Health

The kidney is such an essential organ in the body that filters the blood daily and removing its wastes.  Without the kidney, toxic substances accumulate in the body and cause breakdown in metabolism.

Above, is a video clip on what the kidney is and its role in the body.

Such an important organ in the body definitely needs maintenance and there are proven supplements that enhances its function. I have decided to list them here.
1. Aloe Vera Juice
2. Magnesium
3. Cranberry.

Read more about this at swanson vitamins.


Biotin Benefits: Energy, Healthy Skin, Hair and Nail

Here is a short video on biotin dietary supplement I will like you to watch: Biotin Benefits: Energy, Healthy Skin, Hair and Nail

Biotin, an essential micronutrient for all mammals, is a member of the B complex group of vitamins. Biotin was discovered in nutritional experiments that revealed a factor in many foodstuffs that was capable of curing the scaly dermatitis, hair loss, and neurologic signs induced in rats fed dried egg whites. Avidin, a glycoprotein found in egg whites, binds biotin very specifically and tightly (Ka = 1015 mol/L) (1,2). From an evolutionary standpoint, avidin probably serves as a bacteriostat in egg whites because it is resistant to a broad range of bacterial proteases in both the free and biotin-bound forms. Because it is resistant to pancreatic proteases, dietary avidin binds to dietary biotin (and probably to any biotin from intestinal microbes) and prevents its absorption. Biotin is synthesized by the normal microflora of the large intestine and is partly absorbed by colonocytes (3). However, the contribution of this source of biotin to overall host nutrition is not known (2, 4). Cooking denatures avidin, rendering it susceptible to digestion and unable to interfere with the intestinal absorption of biotin.

The fact that humans have a requirement for biotin has been most clearly shown in 2 situations that result in biotin deficiency: 1) prolonged consumption of raw egg whites and 2) parenteral nutrition without biotin supplementation in patients with short-gut syndrome (2). It could be argued that the biotin supply from gut microbes was also interrupted in each of these situations. One might infer that biotin deficiency is not a concern except in rare circumstances because sufficient biotin may be supplied by gut microbes. However, frank biotin deficiency was also found in 2 infants fed a formula without biotin (5, 6). Additionally, persons with a genetic deficiency of biotinidase become biotin deficient (7). In this case, biotin deficiency probably results from a combination of impaired intestinal absorption of biotin because of the failure of biotinidase to release biotin bound covalently to dietary protein, inefficient salvage of biotin during cellular protein turnover because of the failure of biotinidase to release biotin from carboxylases, and increased renal loss of biocytin (7, 8). The phenotypes of biotinidase deficiency and biotin deficiency are quite similar but not identical. The common pathogenic mechanism probably involves decreased activities of the biotin-dependent carboxylases but may also involve other problems with biotinylation, such as those involving histones.

The biotin requirements for normal persons and for persons in special clinical circumstances are not known. Safe and adequate intakes have been suggested (9,10). These gaps in our fundamental knowledge of human nutrition have arisen from at least 2 sources: 1) a lack of analytic tools to quantitate biotin in body fluids and the metabolic disturbances caused by biotin deficiency and 2) a lack of experimental validation of putative indexes of biotin status (11, 12). These needs have been partially addressed in the past 10 y. Mock and colleagues (13) developed and applied a sensitive (≈2 parts per trillion) and chemically specific assay for biotin. The assay combines HPLC with an avidin binding assay. Using this assay, they detected substantial amounts of biotin metabolites in human urine and plasma (14). In studies in which marginal, asymptomatic biotin deficiency was induced experimentally in healthy adults by the feeding of egg whites, decreased urinary excretion of biotin was found to be an early and sensitive indicator of biotin deficiency.

Biotin is a covalently bound prosthetic group for 5 mammalian carboxylases, including methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase. When the activity of methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase is decreased, its substrate, 3-methylcrotonyl-CoA, is shunted to an alternate metabolic pathway, producing 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid (3-HIA), which is then excreted in increased quantities in urine. Using unlabeled and uniformly deuterated 3-HIA as internal and external standards, respectively, Mock and colleagues (13) developed and applied a highly accurate gas chromatography–mass spectrometry method for quantitating the urinary excretion of this organic acid. An elevated urinary concentration of 3-HIA was found to be an early and sensitive indicator of biotin deficiency.

Maternal and fetal vitamin status in general and biotin status in particular have been areas of interest and concern for many decades. Although frank biotin deficiency has never been documented in normal human gestation, biotin deficiency is a potent teratogenic event in some mammalian species (1517). Moreover, weak human placental transport of biotin (18) may allow maternal biotin deficiency to cause fetal biotin deficiency.

As pointed out by Mock et al (19) in this issue of the Journal, the conclusions of earlier studies on maternal biotin status have conflicted (2022). However, studies incorporating these validated indexes provide evidence that marginal, asymptomatic biotin deficiency is a common occurrence in normal human pregnancy (23, 24). In those studies, assertions concerning decreased biotin status depended importantly on the presence of increased urinary excretion of 3-HIA. In most of these women, the urinary excretion of biotin was normal in early pregnancy and decreased to abnormal values in late pregnancy in only a few of the women. Mock et al questioned whether the observed increase in 3-HIA excretion might have simply been the result of pregnancy because of an effect on protein turnover, amino acid metabolism, or renal excretion of organic acids. The study by Mock et al provides strong evidence that biotin supplementation decreases 3-HIA excretion in pregnant women whose urinary excretion of 3-HIA is elevated. This result is consistent with Mock et al’s hypothesis that increased urinary excretion of 3-HIA does indeed reflect marginal biotin deficiency.

Additional plausibility for their interpretation comes from the demonstration of a mechanism for biotin deficiency. Studies of biotin catabolism in pregnancy indicate that the urinary excretions of bisnorbiotin, biotin sulfoxide, and other inactive biotin metabolites are ≈4-fold greater than the excretion of biotin (23, 24). Studies of accelerated biotin catabolism in rats detected a 4-fold acceleration of biotin catabolism induced by steroids (25). In pregnant women, the increased rates of catabolism of biotin in comparison with its intake suggest that degradation could be a major cause of biotin deficiency.

I concur with the authors that the findings of their study should not be generalized to current nutritional practice in pregnancy. The findings reported by Mock et al do not justify widespread biotin supplementation during pregnancy. Ideally, the incidence of marginal biotin deficiency should be assessed by a complementary index of biotin status that does not depend on maternal renal function, if such an index can be discovered and validated. Moreover, a causal link between maternal biotin deficiency and deleterious effects on the fetus or mother must be established. Finally, both the appropriate dosage of biotin and the timing of the dosage with respect to conception required for therapeutic efficacy must be determined.


  1. Adapated from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2002)

7 Raw Honey Benefits Worth Knowing

Health benefits of honey

#1 Honey Increases Blood Haemoglobin

Honey influences the body in different ways depending on how you consume it. If honey is mixed in tepid water and drunk, it has a beneficial impact on the red blood cell (RBC) count in the blood. RBCs are mainly responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood to various parts of the body.

According to the research, Effects of daily consumption of honey solution on hematological indices and blood levels of minerals and enzymes in normal individuals, honey caused a slight elevations in blood zinc, magnesium, hemoglobin and packed cell volume (pcv)

The honey-tepid water mixture raises the bloods hemoglobin levels, which alleviates anaemic conditions. Iron deficiency anemia is a condition that occurs when dietary intake or absorption of iron is insufficient, and the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood is compromised. The reduced oxygen carrying capacity leads to fatigue, breathlessness, and sometimes depression and other problems. Honey can negate these issues by building the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.

The research also shows that some components of white blood cells are increased in number when honey is taken.

#2 Honey does better than sugar

So many disorders have been linked to consuming white sugar. On the other hand honey is a great substitute that is as sweet but also safe to consume. Though honey also includes simple sugars in its chemical makeup, it is quite different from white sugar in that it contains about 30% glucose and 40% fructose – two monosaccharide or simple sugars – with 20% other complex sugars. Honey also includes dextrin, a starchy fiber. This combination helps the body regulate blood sugar levels.

#3 Honey helps fight Infections

Consumption of honey promotes an increase is beneficial antioxidant agents, stimulates the body’s own defence system and halts harmful germ activities. Several studies have also looked at honey in wound treatment. A study used a therapeutic honey that had undergone a special purification process, which destroyed all strains of bacteria in wounds among the study participants. Another study treated wounds and leg ulcers for 59 patients, of whom 80% had not responded to conventional treatment, with unprocessed honey. Except for one patient, all the others’ wounds showed improvement. What’s more, the infected wounds became sterile within one week of honey application.

In traditional medicine, one of the health benefits of honey includes the treatment of respiratory infections. Daily consumption of honey is used to deal with issues such as excess mucus and asthma.

Clinical research has also shown that medical-grade honey can destroy food-borne illness pathogens such as Eschetichia coli and salmonella. Honey has also shown promise in fighting bacterial strains that have developed resistance to antibiotics. Research has shown that honey is effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus andPseudomonas aeruginosa. Honey fights infections on many levels making it difficult for pathogens to develop resistance to it. Antibiotics by contrast, typically target bacteria while they are growing, giving them an opportunity to evolve resistance. Honey is also found to disrupt what is known as quorum sensing, which reduces the virulence of bacterial pathogens, and allows antibiotics to take effect.

The American Chemical Society reported in March 2014 that honey is the new way to fight microbial resistance to antibiotics. Some properties including hydrogen peroxide, acidity, osmotic effect, high sugar concentration and polyphenols — all of which actively kill bacterial cells confer on honey its antibacterial properties.

#4 Honey is an energy food

One of the important uses of honey in traditional medicine is as an instant energy booster. As mentioned above, honey contains many different kinds of sugar molecules, especially glucose and fructose. However, unlike white sugar where fructose and glucose are combined as sucrose and require an additional step in the digestive process, in honey, these two sugars are separate. Thus, the glucose acts as an instant energy source.

The United States National Honey Board recommends consumption of honey because it contains many vitamins and minerals in small amounts. A list of these include: niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

#5 Honey makes digestion easier

Honey helps reduce constipation, bloating and gas, thanks to it being a mild laxative. Honey is also rich in probiotic or “friendly” bacteria such as bifido bacteria and lactobacilli, which aid in digestion, promote the health of the immune system, and reduce allergies. Using honey in place of table sugar has been found to reduce the toxic effects in the gut of mycotoxins produced by fungi.

#6 Honey combats skin and scalp disorders

There are many health benefits of honey on skin and scalp wellbeing as well. In a small-scale study with 30 patients that looked at the effects of honey on treating seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, participants applied diluted crude honey every alternate day by gently rubbing their problem areas for 2-3 minutes. The honey was left in place for three hours before being washed off with warm water. All the patients showed improvement with the treatment. Itching was relieved and scaling disappeared in a week, while lesions disappeared in two weeks. The patients’ hair loss situation also improved. What’s more, patients who continued the treatment for six months by applying honey once a week did not suffer from a relapse.

#7 Honey helps children fight cold and cough

Results from several studies indicate that honey can improve the quality of sleep in children. Based on parents’ opinions, the studies concluded that honey reduced cough and cold among children during the night and helped them sleep more soundly.

Best Vitamins and Supplements For Everyone