How can seniors fight nutritional anemia? If you also ponder this question often, you’ve landed in the right spot. Let’s find out what are the symptoms of this condition and what are some preventative measures to be taken for managing anemia in elderly people. We would also cover the main causes of low hemoglobin in elderly and shed some light on anemia’s symptoms in old age.

As we age, our ability to absorb and utilise dietary nutrients can diminish significantly. If not managed properly, this can lead to nutritional anemia – with iron deficiency being the leading cause of this condition. But fret not – with the right habits, you can combat nutritional deficiency anemia for yourself or may also help your beloved elders do the same. In this article, we will look at exactly how to combat nutritional anemia in elderly people - from exploring its causes to understanding the role diet plays in recovery to maintaining optimal nutrient levels throughout their golden years!

Why Is Nutritional Anemia Common In Older Adults

The body relies on nutrients like iron for the production of a protein called hemoglobin in red blood cells (RBCs), which is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Insufficient iron levels can hinder the production of healthy RBCs, leading to an inability to meet the body's oxygen requirements. Some of the primary causes of low hemoglobin in elderly people, as well as other nutrient deficiencies, are identified as:

  • Malnutrition:

    Insufficient intake of iron from the diet can lead to a nutritional deficiency and is one of the leading causes of low hemoglobin in elderly people.
  • Upper and lower gastrointestinal blood loss:

    This is caused by gastritis, esophagitis, ulcers, lesions, angiodysplasia (abnormal dilated blood vessels in GI tract), and haemorrhoids, which may cause loss of nutrients, making it one of the main causes of nutritional anemia in the elderly.
  • Malabsorption:

    Certain bacterial infections, inflammatory bowel issues and celiac disease can hinder the absorption of nutrients by the body, leading to anemia in elderly people.

Symptoms of Nutritional Anemia in Older Adults

Discovering nutritional deficiency anemia in older adults can be tricky since it often doesn't show any symptoms. However, when severe anemia sets in, it can cause a range of signs and symptoms, like:

  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Paleness
  • Swelling
  • Headache
  • Restless leg syndrome

Anemia in senior citizens can worsen chronic health issues, leading to:

  • Frailty
  • Increased risk of falling
  • Cognitive decline
  • Depression
  • Delirium
  • Changes in body composition

Identifying the causes of low hemoglobin in elderly people is a challenge due to its overlap with normal ageing processes. Additionally, specific symptoms related to iron deficiency anemia, such as brittle nails, hair loss, mouth sores, and inflammation of the tongue, may occur. Anemia in senior citizens can also manifest with specific symptoms like bleeding in the digestive tract, vomit, blood in urine, uterine bleeding, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and weight loss. Even mild anemia in elderly people can have serious health consequences, emphasising the importance of early detection and treatment.

Management and Tips For Nutritional Anemia In Seniors

Effective treatment for nutritional anemia in senior citizens should be tailored to the condition’s severity, comorbidities, and overall health condition of the patient. The leading cause of nutritional anemia in elderly people is a lack of iron intake in their diet. When it comes to nutritional deficiency anemia in adults, oral supplementation is typically the first-line treatment. You may consult your doctor for an appropriate daily dose.

Apart from this, the following are a few tips for the prevention of nutritional anemia:


  • Consume foods high in iron, vitamin B9 & B12. Listed below are a few groups of foods that boost nutrient levels:
Food group Food source Amount of Vitamin C (mg) in 100g Recipe
Cereals and Millets Rajgira seeds 8.02

Bajra dal khichdi,

Masala Bajra roti

amaranth paneer paratha

Bajra 6.42
Ragi 4.62
Pulses and Dals Soyabean 8.29

soyabean curry,

dal khichdi

Dal 7.06
Non-vegetarian food Chicken liver 9.92

Palak chicken curry,

Mutton curry

Sheep liver 6.15
Vegetables Amaranth leaves (green) 6.37

Amaranth thoran,

methi saag,

methi bhaji,

palak curry,

palak soup

Methi (Fenugreek leaves) 5.69
Spinach 2.95
Seeds Garden cress 5.95 halim kheer
  • Avoid or limit the consumption of foods that can hinder iron absorption, like tea and coffee, as well as foods rich in phytic acid like brown rice and whole-wheat grain products. This is considered an important step in the prevention of nutritional anemia.
  • Incorporate vitamin B12-rich foods: Fish is one of the best sources of vitamin B12 and is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. For instance, salmon provides 3.2 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 per 100g. Eggs are another great source of vitamins, with 100g of boiled eggs offering 1.1 mcg of B12.


Nutritional anemia in senior citizens can be a tough challenge, but it doesn't have to define our golden years. By understanding how diet affects our nutrient levels and making necessary dietary changes, we can prevent and manage anemia effectively. Educating ourselves on its prevention and seeking dietary recommendations for the condition is crucial for a thriving and healthy future. It is essential to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or certified dietician to accurately diagnose nutritional anemia and develop a personalised diet plan for your needs. Here's to a vibrant and nourishing journey towards good health in old age.