Part 1: Signs Of Anemia and Its Causes

Anemia, also known as iron-poor blood, is a common disorder that occurs when a deficiency in red blood cells impedes delivery of oxygen throughout the body. The most common cause of anemia is low iron levels in the blood – iron-deficiency anemia. Without iron, red blood cells may become low in a protein called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. A normal red blood cell count in women is 12 grams per deciliter of blood (g/DL), and in men it’s 15g/DL. Anemia ELISA kits are often used to measure these levels.

What Red Blood Cells Do

The body makes three types of blood cells — white blood cells to fight infection, platelets to help blood clot and red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.

Red blood cells contain hemoglobin — a red, iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color. Hemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body and to carry carbon dioxide from other parts of the body to the lungs so that it can be exhaled.

Most blood cells, including red blood cells, are produced regularly in a person’s bone marrow — a red, spongy material found within the cavities of many of the large bones. To produce hemoglobin and red blood cells, the body needs iron, vitamin B-12, folate and other nutrients from the foods eaten.

Learn more about the causes, signs and symptoms of anemia in Part 2: Signs of Anemia and Its Causes.

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