Choose a healthy diet
You can prevent some forms of vitamin deficiency anemias by choosing a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods.
Foods rich in folate include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta and rice
- Fruits and fruit juices
Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include:
- Fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals
- Milk, cheese and yogurt
- Red and white meats and shellfish
Foods rich in vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Sweet peppers
Most adults need these daily dietary amounts of the following vitamins:
- Vitamin B-12 — 2.4 micrograms (mcg)
- Folate or folic acid — 400 mcg
- Vitamin C — 75 to 90 milligrams
Pregnant and breast-feeding women may require more of each vitamin.
Consider a multivitamin
If you're concerned about getting enough vitamins from the food you eat, ask your doctor whether a multivitamin may be right for you. Most people get enough vitamins from the foods they eat. But if your diet is restricted, you may wish to take a multivitamin.
Smoking interferes with the absorption of nutrients, such as vitamin C, so it can raise your risk of a vitamin deficiency. If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you've tried to quit on your own and haven't been successful, talk with your doctor about strategies to help you quit.
Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
Alcohol can contribute to vitamin deficiency anemia. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, moderate drinking is generally considered to be:
- Two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger
- One drink a day for men older than age 65
- One drink a day for women of any age
A drink is 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer, 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Nov. 09, 2016
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- Schrier SL. Diagnosis and treatment of vitamin B12 and folate deficiency. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 10, 2016.
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- Folate: Fact sheet for health professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/. Accessed Oct. 10, 2016.
- Alcohol and public health: Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm. Accessed Oct. 10, 2016.
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Vitamin deficiency anemia