Diet combined with a healthy lifestyle undoubtedly makes a significant impact on your health regardless of the type of hemophilia you have. Although there is no cure for this life-threatening bleeding disorder, you can still live a near-normal life by making proper dietary choices.
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Though there are no official or strict dietary guidelines for people with hemophilia to follow, following a nutrient-dense diet will strengthen your body so that you experience fewer bleeding complications. A proper diet will also help you maintain a better quality of life.
On the other hand, unhealthy lifestyles and poor dietary choices increase the risk of obesity in hemophilia patients. The extra pounds you gain from being obese can strain your weight-bearing joints and increase the risks of internal bleeding in vulnerable areas. As a result, this also increases your course of treatment.
Because of these reasons, maintaining a healthy weight along with a healthy diet is of utmost importance for hemophilia patients.
Role of Diet in Hemophilia
In general, people with hemophilia bleed longer than normal individuals due to a deficiency of blood clotting proteins. Therefore, it is important for hemophilia patients to replace blood loss and maintain an average blood volume in their bodies through a good diet.
Diet provides essential nutrients such as protein, copper, iron, folic acid, vitamin K, B12, B6, and vitamin C, which are all important for red blood cell (RBC) production. Diet can also help you maintain a continuous and healthy blood supply in the body.
Below are the lists of essential nutrients that you or your caregiver should add to your diet while planning or making your food.
Foods Rich in Iron
Eating foods rich in iron is beneficial for hemophilia patients. Iron helps in the formation of red blood cells, and its protein called hemoglobin (an iron-rich protein responsible for transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body).
In fact, RBCs account for about 70% of the body’s iron, and you are more likely to lose iron during bleeding episodes. It has been estimated that 0.75 mg of iron is lost with each 15 ml of blood.
To replenish the iron and increase RBC production in your body, you must add iron-rich food to your diet.
Iron-rich food sources include animal proteins such as lean red meat, liver (a good source of clotting factors as well), seafood, poultry, and dark leafy greens, including kale, spinach, broccoli, raisins, grains, peas, and dried beans.
Vitamin K-Rich Foods
Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting. This fat-soluble vitamin helps in the production of one of the blood clotting factors called prothrombin (a blood clotting protein). Adding vitamin K-rich foods would benefit people with hemophilia and help control their excessive bleeding episodes.
Vitamin K-rich foods include asparagus, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, dark green lettuce, green tea, canola, oats, olive oil, alfalfa, and bran.
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Foods Rich in Vitamin B and C
Vitamin B6 and B12 help in the production of RBCs, while vitamin C helps in iron absorption, improves the blood clotting process, and helps collagen production. A good amount of collagen in your body can reduce the severity of bruising if you have hemophilia.
Foods rich in vitamins B6 and B12 that you can add to your diet include fish, meat, eggs, poultry, leafy greens, dry milk, whole grains, fortified bread, cereals, beans, and peas.
Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, pineapples, kiwis, strawberries, lemons, blueberries, tomatoes, and broccoli.
Calcium is an important mineral that is required by your body to build strong bones. Hemophilia patients experience poor bone health due to joint bleeding. Therefore, adding a good source of calcium to your daily diet will help you to withstand future joint complications.
You can add a good amount of calcium daily by adding low-fat milk, yogurt, and reduced-fat cheese to your breakfast. Leafy greens and almonds are also essential as they boost calcium absorption.
In short, eating a nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy weight can effectively ease your symptoms and complications related to hemophilia. You can consult your healthcare provider to make customized diet plans according to your current health status and body weight.
- Abbaspour, N., Hurrell, R., & Kelishadi, R. (2014). Review on iron and its importance for human health. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 19(2), 164.
- Mahmood, L. (2014). The metabolic processes of folic acid and Vitamin B12 deficiency. Journal of Health Research and Reviews, 1(1), 5. https://www.jhrr.org/article.asp?issn=2394-2010;year=2014;volume=1;issue=1;spage=5;epage=9;aulast=Mahmood
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Dr. Dara Bai Abacan, PharmD was born in Long Beach, CA. She graduated from Western University of Health Sciences in 2009, and has 13 years of experience as a pharmacist. After graduation, she worked at Walgreens Infusion Services (now Option Care), followed by Premier Infusion, where she was selected to be in charge of the specialty department. While at Premier Infusion, she learned about chronic therapies like IVIG, SCIG, and monoclonal antibodies. Later, she worked at KabaFusion, where she gained further clinical knowledge of IVIG and SCIG. Since joining AmeriPharma, she has developed expertise in many other therapies, including oncology and hepatitis. The most rewarding part of her job is talking to patients and providing excellent customer service and clinical information pertaining to their therapy. In her free time, she loves to practice meditation.