The word "anemia" literally means “too little blood,” and used to be called “iron-poor blood” or "tired blood."

It is a condition that is characterized by abnormal red blood cells in any of the following ways:

--Too few red blood cells

--Too small red blood cells

--Too many immature (enlarged) red blood cells

--Too little hemoglobin* in the red blood cells

*Hemoglobin is the iron-containing protein in the blood that carries oxygen to all of the tissues in the body.


Iron deficiency

One type of anemia that is very common particularly among children and women is caused by iron deficiency. The deficiency causes low hemoglobin levels with red blood cells that are pale and small.

In developed countries where food is plentiful, iron deficiency may stem from poor food choices, restricted diets, or, in some cases, poor absorption due to digestive tract disease. In underdeveloped countries, iron deficiency is more likely caused by an absence of iron-rich foods or enough food of any kind. Excessive bleeding and heavy sweating from intense physical exertion can also cause iron deficiency.

Health experts generally agree that worldwide, iron is the nutrient most likely to be deficient. This applies to both developed countries and underdeveloped countries, particularly in vulnerable parts of the population, such as children and pregnant women.

Sickle cell

Sickle-cell anemia is a particular type that is hereditary and characterized by crescent-shaped red blood cells (they’re normally disc-shaped), which have less ability to carry oxygen to the body. Symptoms of this disorder include dehydration, burst red blood cells, fever and severe pain, especially in the abdomen and joints.


Another type of this condition is called pernicious anemia. In this type, red blood cells are immature and enlarged due to a Vitamin B12 deficiency. It is particularly common in the elderly who experience gastritis, which inhibits their ability to absorb Vitamin B12.

Some people are born with a genetic defect that causes a shortage of intrinsic factor, a protein that aids in the absorption of Vitamin B12. Injury to the stomach can also lead to poor absorption of this important B vitamin.

In some cases, Vitamin B12 shots can bypass the need for the absorption process in the stomach. There are also situations where Vitamin B12 nasal sprays are effective.

Click here for more information on Vitamin B12.

Here is a list of reasons you might be anemic:

-Inadequate nutrition 


-Folic Acid deficiency

-Vitamin B12 deficiency



-Strenuous sports

-Genetic defect

-Internal bleeding

-Chronic diseases

-Some cancer treatments



In a general sense, anemia is usually a result of either a lack of blood cell production, a high rate of blood cell destruction, blood loss or red blood cells that are defective in some way.


The most common symptoms  are as follows: 


-Tiredness and

-Pale skin

Those with this condition may also experience headache, dizziness, trouble breathing, chest pain and coldness in extremities.

However, you can have "tired blood" without having any symptoms at all, or symptoms so vague as to be unrecognized.

Click here to go from Anemia definition page to Iron Sources and Functions page.