Can the weather impact anemia?

Can Weather Impact Anemia?

Editor’s Note: This article is for informational purposes only. You should not use it to replace any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any health issues. Any questions about your blood health should be directed toward a physician, hematologist, or other licensed healthcare professional.

There’s a chance iron-deficiency anemia could be a part of your forecast — here’s what you should know.

We’re sure you’ve felt a little gloomy on rainy or cold days, only for your mood to be lifted when the sun comes out to play. And while a lot of that is due to the fact that nobody likes to battle the elements on their way to the store, or be stuck inside for days on end, it may also be related to your anemia. san

To be clear, a rainshower doesn’t necessarily mean your body won’t get enough iron or that you’ll immediately start experiencing anemia symptoms. That said, there are some people who should be aware of how Mother Nature can impact their health.

Here’s everything you need to know about how weather can impact anemia.

The Sun, Vitamin D, and Anemia

“I’ve got to get my Vitamin D,” – most people as they lay down on the beach. As it turns out, doing this is more important than you may realize.

Our bodies actually create a good amount of the Vitamin D it needs throughout the year during the spring and summer months, which is why it’s important to get as much direct sunlight as possible during this time.

That’s because this nutrient is responsible for multiple bodily functions, including iron absorption, according to multiple studies. We’ve previously compared iron to the gas in your car, in that it powers your body to move. Vitamin D in this case would be your car battery — if that’s not charged, it doesn’t really matter how much gas you have in the tank.

To illustrate how important the sun and Vitamin D is, a group of scientists looked at the population of a Mediterranean city that’s sunny for 300 days out of the year. Those who had low levels of the type of Vitamin D we get from the sun had significantly lower hemoglobin and ferritin (a blood protein that contains iron).

So what happens when we can’t get direct sunlight? Some people have suggested using tanning beds or artificial sunlight to get the UVB rays our body needs to create Vitamin D, but a group of Yale scientists have strongly advised against that since prolonged exposure can also cause skin cancer.

Instead, you should take a Vitamin D supplement or make sure you’re eating enough food that’s fortified with Vitamin D.

Here are some good sources of Vitamin D, according to the Harvard School of Public Health:

  • Salmon
  • Swordfish
  • Tuna fish
  • Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
  • Dairy and plant milks fortified with vitamin D
  • Sardines
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolk
  • Fortified cereals
  • Cod liver oil

Oh, and if you’re wondering how much sunlight you need…well, there’s actually no answer to that. Scientists are still trying to pin that number down.

Cold Temperatures and Anemia

While extremely rare, some people can experience anemia symptoms when it gets really cold outside. It’s called Cold agglutinin disease, and it affects 1 in ever 300,000 people, typically seniors and usually women.

Sometimes called antibody hemolytic anemia, this condition is triggered by cold temperatures and causes your immune system to destroy your red blood cells. This can lead to multiple symptoms, including:

Woman dressed warmly outside

  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart failure
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

How does this happen? During cold weather, our body can produce an antibody called cold agglutinins that attach themselves to our red blood cells instead of the bad stuff in our body (like bacteria and viruses).

Doctors are still unsure why some people contract CAD, and there’s no known cure. People who experience CAD should make sure they’re eating enough iron-rich foods, or taking an iron supplement, to ensure they’re hemoglobin levels remain as high as possible.

Use AnemoCheck Mobile for Brighter Days

The weather may be unpredictable, but monitoring your health doesn’t have to be. On top of making sure you’re getting enough iron in your diet you should also be checking your hemoglobin levels using the AnemoCheck Mobile app.

Consider us your handy umbrella, only it’s a little harder to lose us on the bus.

Join the Conversation

Read More