Wun-Yuan Mei

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Bonita Wyse


Bonita Wyse


Ethelwyn B. Wilcox


Eldon Drake


Blood is a constantly changing, highly complex tissue which is concerned with the transport of cell nutrients, the elimination of wastes, and the maintenance of chemical equilibrium. The mature red blood cell takes about seven and half days to develop, then has a life cycle of 120 days. Many factors are involved in this complicated process. Many nutrients are required for the frame-work of the red blood cells and in the hemoglobin within these cells.

Anemia is a condition in which there is a reduction in the total circulating hemoglobin. Anemias may be described biochemically in terms of lowered hemoglobin levels, number of red blood cells, and hematocrit. They are also differentiated on the basis of appearance of red blood cells; normocytic, macrocytic, or microcytic; nucleated or nonnucleated; normochromic, hyperchromic, or hypochromic. It is also possible to measure the iron reserves and the change in the level of plasma iron and of transferrin. When anemias become more severe, the symptoms are more consistant. They include skin pallor, weakness, easy fatigability, head aches, dizziness, sensitivity to cold, and paresthesia. Cheilosis, glossitis, loss of appetite, and loss of gastrointestinal tone with accompanying symptoms of distress are seen in severe anemias. With increasing severity of anemia, the oxygenation of tissues is reduced--hence the feeling of fatigue. The heart rate increases, palpitation occurs, and there is shortness of breath.

Faulty nutrition occasioned either by failure to provide the essential nutrients, such as protein, iron, folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin B12, pyridoxine, copper, ascorbic acid, etc., or by poor utilization of dietary constituents may lead to anemia, the type being dependent upon the initiating defect. Anemia due to iron deficiency is presently recognized as the most common type of nutritional anemia.

The treatment of anemia is dependent upon a determination of the cause and eliminating it whenever possible. Nutritionally, specific supplements may be required to improve the formation of red cells and hemoglobin. A normal diet to restore good nutrition is usually emphasized to support the specific therapy.