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What Foods Are Good For Thalassemia?

Thalassemia is a genetic disorder characterized by the abnormal hemoglobin production. This results in low number of RBC and higher rate of destruction. The patient may suffer from anemia. Thus, foods that improve the immune system have no iron content and causes reduction in oxidative stress, is recommended.

What Foods Are Good For Thalassemia?

What Foods Are Good For Thalassemia?

Low Iron Diet: As the symptoms of thalassemia is increased destruction of red blood cells leading to high iron concentration. Further, excess iron overload is also caused due to blood transfusion. Thus, the diet of the thalassemia patient should not contain iron.

Drink Tea: Drinking tea and coffee along with the food reduces the absorption of iron from the gastrointestinal tract.

Avoid Iron Utensils: Iron utensils should be completely avoided while cooking food for the patient suffering from thalassemia. This may transfer the iron from the utensil to food leading to high level of iron in the body.

Cereals: The cereals such as maize and oat reduce the absorption of iron. But these should not be taken along with the ingredients containing high concentration of Vitamin C such as citrus fruits.

Dairy Products: Dairy products such as milk and cheese also reduce the amount of iron absorbed in the body. These should be incorporated in the diet of thalassemia patients.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is also useful in patients of thalassemia.

Calcium: Foods rich in calcium should be consumed by the patients of thalassemia. This results in strengthening the bones and muscles. Almonds and dates are rich source of iron.

Vitamin D: Various studies have shown that the patients with thalassemia are also suffering with Vitamin D deficiency. Further Vitamin D is also an important factor in the absorption of calcium. The patient may take cod liver oil or soy milk.

Zinc: Foods with high zinc content should be taken by the patient. Thalassemia results in the slow development of the child. Thus, zinc helps in improving growth and also helps in enhancing the immune system. Zinc is also responsible for improving bone health and glucose homeostasis.

Vitamin C: Although Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron from the gastrointestinal tract, thus it should be taken with an iron-free diet. It is responsible for taking the iron back from the tissues such as from liver and also helps in enhancing the functioning of iron chelators. It has been seen that the number of free radicals and oxidative stress is high in the patients suffering from thalassemia. Vitamin C also acts as antioxidant and scavenges free radicals. Foods containing vitamin C are Mango, apricots, grapefruit, lime and lemon.

Supplementation: As the iron chelation therapy is give to the patient which not only chelates iron but also take away other essential minerals. Thus, mineral supplementation without iron should be administered to the patient.

Folic Acid: Folic acid rich foods reduce the symptoms of thalassemia such as tiredness. The foods containing folic acid includes banana, peaches, nuts, lentils and soy products.

Milk: Daily intake of milk is recommended for the patients of thalassemia. Milk not only provides calcium but also provide important nutrients.

Ginger: Ginger helps in enhancing the immune system as any illness will increase the frequency of blood transfusion. Further, ginger is also known for increasing the appetite.

Healthy And Balanced Diet: As the energy requirement is increased, the deficiency of essential ingredient develops and to enhance the immune system to stay away from any illness, healthy and balanced diet should be taken and the junk foods, that makes the body prone to diseases, should be avoided.

Honey: Honey helps in various ways in the patients with thalassemia especially complicated with diabetes mellitus and patients with high oxidative stress. It has an excellent antioxidant property and increases beta-carotene and glutathione reductase.

Exercise: Exercise should also be an important part in the routine of thalassemia patients. Various low energy exercise and yoga can be done to strengthen the muscles and improve immune system.


Foods recommended for thalassemia includes folic acid, milk ginger, Vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, honey, cereals, vitamin E and dairy products.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Thalassemia. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/thalassemia/index.html
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Thalassemia. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/thalassemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354995
  3. Piga, A., Galanello, R., & Forni, G. L. (2009). Thalassemia: From genotype to phenotype. Hematology/oncology clinics of North America, 23(2), 247-69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hoc.2009.01.001
  4. Cappellini, M. D., & Cohen, A. (2015). Guidelines for the Clinical Management of Thalassemia, 2nd Edition. Thalassemia International Federation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2622/

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 22, 2023

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