People with Sickle Cell anaemia have greater than average requirements for both calories and micro-nutrients. A diet emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes will provide a greater proportion of essential nutrients than a typical Western diet, while appropriate supplementation – one to three times the recommended intakes for most essential nutrients – can prevent deficiency and may decrease the likelihood of disease exacerbation. This is how to manage sickle cell disease with recommended vitamins below.Acute signs may include pain in the hands and feet, fever, serious bacterial infections due to splenic sequestration/infarction, priapism, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, pallor, tachycardia, jaundice, and urinary symptoms. Chronic complications include delayed growth/puberty, retinopathy, chronic lung and kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, avascular necrosis of the hips, knees and shoulders, bone infarcts, and leg ulcers.
If you are living with SCD, you will need a high calorie, nutrient dense diet, and adequate fluid consumption to maintain hydration. The most essential vitamins to take, food wise are:
Vitamin A and carotenoids: We need vitamin A for healthy skin and mucous membranes, our immune system, good eye health and vision. Vitamin A can be sourced from the food we eat, through beta carotene, for example, or in supplement form. Carotenoids are plant pigments responsible for bright red, yellow and orange hues in many fruits and vegetables. Some carotenoids are converted by the body to vitamin A, which is essential to vision, and normal growth and development. Carotenoids also have anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits.
Apricots, asparagus, beef liver, beetroots, broccoli, carrots, corn, guava, kale, mangoes, spinach, all leafy greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tangerines, tomatoes and watermelon.
Vitamin B6: Also known as pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 allows the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food form hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.
Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods including pork, poultry, such as chicken or turkey, fish, bread (sour bread or fortified – which are better for your stomach), wholegrain cereals, such as oatmeal, wheat germ and brown rice, eggs, vegetables, soya beans, peanuts, milk, potatoes and some fortified breakfast cereals.
Vitamin C: It is a water-soluble vitamin that is found in many foods, particularly fruits and vegetables. It is well known for being a potent antioxidant, as well as aiding the immune function. It is also vital for collagen synthesis, which supports connective tissue, bones, teeth, and the small blood vessels as one ages. The human body cannot produce vitamin C and so it is essential to consume it regularly in sufficient amounts. Foods rich in vitamin C are rosehip, chili peppers, guava, broccoli, cauliflower, kiwi, red, orange, or yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, blackcurrants, thyme, parsley, leafy greens, Brussel sprouts, papaya, lemon, lychees and oranges.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a group of powerful antioxidants that protect your cells from oxidative stress. Adequate vitamin E levels are required for the body to function normally. If you don’t get enough, you may become more prone to infections, experience impaired eyesight or suffer from muscle weakness. Fortunately, vitamin E is widespread in foods. You are therefore unlikely to become deficient in it unless your nutrient absorption is impaired. Foods rich in vitamin E are sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, salmons, goose meat, avocado, red raw pepper, mangoes, snails, crayfish, cod, trout, pistachio, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, pecan nuts.
Magnesium: This is a mineral that our body relies on to feel fit, healthy and full of vitality. Magnesium is also required for the formation of bones, muscles, contractions, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium helps to promote energy, sleep, blood sugar and hormone balance. Magnesium is found in a variety of food, but the best sources tend to be green leafy vegetables, like spinach, kale, etc.; raw cacao; nuts and seeds; fruits like figs, avocado, bananas and raspberries; legumes like black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans; seafood like salmon, mackerel and tuna; whole grains, like brown rice and oats; and raw avocado, dark chocolate, tofu and baked beans.
Zinc: Zinc is a mineral that is essential for good health. It’s required for the functions of over 300 enzymes and involved in many important processes in your body. It metabolises nutrients, maintains your immune system and grows and repairs body tissues. Your body doesn’t store zinc, so you need to eat enough every day to ensure you are meeting your daily requirements.
Food rich in Zinc: Meat is an excellent source of zinc. Red meat is particularly a great source, but ample amounts can be found in different kinds of meat, including beef, lamb, and pork. Shellfish like crabs; legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans all contain substantial amounts of zinc; and seeds like nuts. Eating nuts such as pine nuts, peanuts, cashews and almonds can boost your intake of zinc; dairy foods like cheese and milk provide a host of nutrients, including zinc, eggs, whole grains like wheat, quinoa, rice and oats contain some zinc, potatoes and dark chocolate.
Omega-3 fatty acids promote brain health, the heart, fights inflammation, can improve bone and joints and are good for the skin. Food such as oily fish, like mackerel, salmon, seabass, sardines, herring, shrimps and trout; seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella powder, walnuts, and kidney beans.
Individuals with sickle cell anaemia are often low in these vitamins and nutrients. These deficiencies cause a significant depreciation in blood antioxidant status in patients, and the resulting oxidative stress may precipitate vaso-occlusion–related acute chest syndrome. Studies indicate supplementation of zinc, magnesium; vitamins A, C, and E or treatment with a combination of high-dose antioxidants can reduce the percentage of irreversibly ‘sickled’ cells.