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Forum Name: Hematology Topics

Question: Thalassemia Minor Patient?


 omi_071 - Mon Jul 05, 2010 4:29 am

What type of food a Thalassemia minor patient should have or should avoid???
Is there any restriction or limitation?
 Dr.M.Aroon kamath - Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:27 am

User avatar Hi,
In individuals with Thalassemia minor, “non-transfusional iron overload” is very unusual unless, they happen to have an associated mutation (in homozygous or heterozygous form) of Hereditary Hemochromatosis. One other factor which affects dietary management is iron deficiency, which may be rarely co-existing.

Therefore, patients with isolated thalassemia minor have no particular need to follow any dietary modification or need any specific nutritional supplements.
A balanced diet rich in high quality protein, adequate energy, B-complex vitamins (in particular, vitamin B12) and folic acid is recommended.


Multivitamin and mineral supplements containing large amounts of iron and vitamin C are best avoided.

Having a basic knowledge about composition of common food stuffs and especially with relevance to the contents of iron, zinc, magnesium is a bonus and helps to avoid pitfalls - more so in the case of vegetarians.

For example, a vegetarian diet often contains less zinc than a meat based diet and so it is important for vegetarians to eat plenty of foods known to be rich in this vital mineral. Vegetarians may need as much as 50% more of the RDA for zinc in their diets than non-vegetarians because of the lower absorption of zinc from plant foods (excessive phytates, which prevents absorption of zinc). One should also remember that excess fiber in the diet can decrease zinc absorption.

Good sources of zinc for vegetarians include lentils and beans, seeds, nuts, wholegrain cereals, yeast and dairy products. Pumpkin seeds are one of the most concentrated sources of zinc. Armed with this sort knowledge, one can with success, avoid consuming supplements which can have potential adverse effects.

While deficiency of zinc compromises the immune system, zinc toxicity can occur in acute or chronic forms. Intakes of 150-450 mg of zinc/day or intakes of more than 3 months duration have been associated with reduced levels of high-density lipoproteins, low copper status, altered iron function and reduced immune function. Copper helps in erythropoiesis along with iron.

Lastly, there is one other factor which is best avoided, and that is
- alcohol.
30% to 50% of alcoholics may be zinc deficient. Alcohol consumption decreases intestinal absorption of zinc and increases its urinary excretion.

I hope this information is helpful.
Best wishes!

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