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Dear Diana, after a recent medical check-up which included a blood test I was told I was anaemic. How can I help myself to rectify this? Patricia Carson West Yorkshire

Patricia, typical symptoms of anaemia are lack of energy, a rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath when exercising, or dizziness. Being told you are anaemic could indicate you don’t have enough haemoglobin in your blood or have fewer red blood cells than normal. Anaemia can occur if your body doesn’t have enough iron, a deficiency of which leads to the decreased production of red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. Anaemia caused by iron deficiency can affect nails resulting in curvature and sometimes causing cracked corners of the mouth. Iron rich foods include red meats, fish, poultry, seafood and some plant sources.

Anaemia can also be the result of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, with symptoms such as tingling in the feet and hands and unsteadiness when walking. Treatment depends on the cause of the deficiency but improving your diet may help treat and prevent recurrence. Vitamin B12 is found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, yeast extract (such as Marmite) and specially fortified foods.

The best sources of folate include green vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and peas. If your body stores of vitamin B12 are depleted your doctor may prescribe vitamin B12 injections or tablets to restore normal levels.

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