First Draft © Dennis Rocke & Dr J. M. Mungavin 1983

Updated © Dennis Rocke 2022

(Iron deficiency)

Anaemia means “Want of blood”. Medically it means a person has less haemoglobin, the colouring matter of red blood cells ((haemoglobin contains a protein part (globis) joined with an iron-containing pigment haem. (From which comes the prefix haem for many medical words indicating some relationship to the blood.) Haem is the oxygen-carrying portion of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin picks up oxygen in the lungs, holds it loosely, carries it in arterial blood and delivers it as fuel to cells. In exchange, the blood plasma picks up carbon dioxide that every cell must excrete. The plasma then carries it to the lungs where the exhalation ejects carbon dioxide from the body, whilst fresh inhalation recharges the oxygen supply. Iron is the key element of this remarkable gas-transportation, but the protein part (globis) is vital too. Taking iron as a supplement does not benefit all types of anaemia.)) A person suffering from anaemia has less haemoglobin than is normally found in healthy people of the same age group, almost everyone at some time of their lives suffers from mild anaemia. It is important for doctors to sort out which of the many causes of anaemia are present and which are potentially serious.

Iron deficiency is the most common anaemia. To make haemoglobin, the body normally conserves iron efficiently, but sometimes iron reserves are low resulting in anaemia. Insufficient iron in the diet is the commonest reason, but the more serious cause in the more affluent societies is small, continuous or intermittent blood loss. Nutritional iron deficiency is most often in premature babies, the growing child and in pregnant individuals. Iron reserves may become too low to provide all the iron necessary at this time because of an increased demand of haemoglobin.

Unless prescribed by a doctor, children should never have iron supplements, since iron in tablet form is extremely poisonous to children. Pregnant mothers’ often receive prescriptions for iron tablets and a common tragedy is when a child accidentally takes them mistaking them for sweets.

In children it is usual for this complaint (iron deficiency) to be temporary and they get better without treatment. Doses of medicinal iron taken orally will quickly correct almost all iron deficiency anaemia.

Finding the correct cause of blood loss is imperative before a physician gives a prescription for any iron supplements. The following complaints could well be the cause:

  • An Ulcer such as peptic that is symptomless
  • Excessive menstrual blood flow.
  • Haemorrhoids (piles) which bleed intermittently.
  • Something with a more sinister side such as cancer of the bowel.

In both boys and girls during the early days of their life haemoglobin levels are identical. With the onset of menstruation and until menopause, the haemoglobin levels in women average 1 or 2 grams lower than in men of the same age (women 11.5 – 16.5 grams, men 13.5 – 18 grams). There should be no significant difference after the menopause.

Only a doctor can distinguishing between simple iron deficiency anaemia and more serious and complicated anaemias. A simple blood test may give some idea, but when indicated it is advisable to carry out laboratory tests and a bone marrow examination to rule out other possible factors and confirm the diagnosis. It always pays to be sure. Do not accept a therapeutic test for iron deficiency anaemia (meaning to try the curative effect of an iron containing prescription or a proprietary brand) before proof that it is only iron you need. Insist on a blood test first. You could lose precious time with self treatment by guesswork if the anaemia is due to another cause.


According to some experts, the best way to introduce iron into the body is not as would be expected, by taking iron supplement, but by taking a manganese supplement. The body changes manganese into iron.
Avoid caffeine as it interferes with the bodily absorption of iron. There is caffeine in tea and coffee unless the label states otherwise.


Follow the health diet putting emphasis on alkaline foods such as fresh juices for example green vegetable (all sorts) and fruit juices (all sorts). When suffering from anaemia an alkaline diet is essential. Choose your alkaline foods from the chart and organise your diet accordingly.

Daily Supplements (Recommended)
Vitamin B5  

80 mg


Vitamin B6  

80 mg


Vitamin B12  

40 mcg


Vitamin C  

3,000 mg daily


Vitamin E  

1,000 iu daily



As directed



As directed



50 mg


Sesame Seeds  

As directed