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A plate of healthy nachos, consisting of sweet potatoes, black beans, red peppers, black olives, onions, and cilantro.
Figure 10.1 A healthier version of nachos that contains sweet potatoes, which are high in vitamin C, and beans, which are high in iron, can provide nutrients that promote hematologic wellness. (credit: modification of work “Good-For-You-Nachos” by Alabama Extension; ACES | Janet Guynn/Flickr, Public Domain)

Nutritional needs vary from one life stage to the next. Specific stages of life have increased needs, such as during pregnancy and vulnerable times, including acute and chronic illness. Meeting nutritional needs from infancy through older age builds a framework for health and well-being throughout life (Rodríguez-Mañas et al., 2023).

Nutritional deficiencies impacting hematologic health occur at all ages and affect people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status. Specific comorbidities and lifestyles contribute to a higher chance of experiencing undesired consequences of these deficiencies and require special consideration by the health care team.

Consider this case: Catalina is a 15-year-old Black female adolescent with no prior medical problems. She is in the 10th grade, is in the high school band, and previously made good grades. She reports to her primary care clinic today with concerns of increasing fatigue, headaches, and shortness of breath when playing her trumpet in the school band. Her mother reports that her academic performance has declined over the past 6 weeks. Her diet is reported to be normal for her age, although she does not care for most fruits and vegetables and seldom eats red meat.

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