Anaemia is a physical condition in which the red blood cell (RBC) count and/or the haemoglobin (Hb) concentration is less than normal. Basically, the main task of RBCs is to provide oxygen to body tissues, whereby haemoglobin acts as the oxygen-carrying protein complex inside the RBCs.
Although many nutrients are required for optimal RBC production, the most fundamental ones are iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid. Iron is absorbed from food and is subsequently carried in the blood to the bone marrow where it is combined with specific components to synthesize the haemoglobin molecule.
However, vitamin B12 and folic acid (the latter required to create haem, the iron-containing protein structure in Hb) are rather essential for the formation and maturation of RBCs. Overall, these factors ensure that a proper haematopoesis (the production of RBCs) takes place in the bone marrow, resulting in a constant supply of healthy RBCs. Furthermore, in addition to the need for small quantities or trace amounts of vitamin C, riboflavin, and copper, adequate synthesis of RBCs requires a renal hormone named erythropoietin (also known as EPO), which is an important stimulator for RBC production.
Without these nutrients and hormones, RBC production is significantly reduced and inadequate to meet physiological needs. Nutritional deficits also bear the risk that the RBCs are deformed in shape and unable to carry oxygen adequately.