Anemia of Chronic Disease

Anemia of chronic disease or inflammation is the second most common type of anemia. Pathogenic bacteria also utilize iron for growth and proliferation, and as a protective mechanism the body will store iron and transport iron in a non-useable state to prevent the bacteria from having access to it.

This non-usable state also protects us from excess iron because higher iron levels are linked to cancer, atherosclerosis, and osteoporosis. Since iron regulation and homeostasis is tightly regulated by the immune system to prevent the use of iron by bacteria and other pathogens and to protect our body from iron excess, it could also give rise to anemia of inflammation.

This type of anemia is commonly seen in chronic inflammatory diseases such as CHF, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

It can also occur in acute situations such as sepsis. I see this type of anemia quite frequently working in the critical care units in the hospital. The MDs commonly treat it with iron supplementation.

The best approach is to treat the underlying cause of the inflammation that is causing the anemia. Inflammation from chronic disease can be effectively managed with nutrition because iron homeostasis is largely regulated in the intestines where iron is absorbed by the immune system, and providing nutrients can help to correct the underlying metabolic dysfunction.

Nutrients that are beneficial in anemia of chronic disease or inflammation include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamins B6 and B2
  • Copper
  • Fermented foods
  • Fatty acid balance (Omega 3:6 ratio of 1:4)

DISCLAIMER: The client understands that the role of the pharmacist is not acting in the capacity of a doctor and the client should discuss any dietary changes or potential dietary supplements with his or her doctor and, should not discontinue any prescription medications without first consulting his or her doctor. The pharmacist, in her professional judgment, has legal authority in the state of Texas to make supplement, diet, and medication recommendations deemed necessary to help you achieve your health goals. If you do not reside in the state of Texas, then the recommendations made should be reviewed by your physician before initiating.