How to increase red blood cells: What to eat and lifestyle changes
A low red blood count or anemia can cause feelings of fatigue and weakness. When people have a lower red blood count than normal, their body has to work overtime to get enough oxygen to the cells. This can leave a person feeling drained.
Low red blood cell count can cause a variety of symptoms and complications. There are several diet and lifestyle changes that people can make to help the body increase the number of red blood cells. However, if symptoms persist, it is important to see a doctor.
Red blood cells are the most abundant cells in human blood. The cells contain hemoglobin, which is a protein that carries oxygen around the body. Hemoglobin is also responsible for the blood’s distinctive colour.
Red blood cells will circulate in the body for an average of 115 days. After this, they go to the liver, where they are broken down, and their nutrients are recycled back into the cells.
Red blood cells are continuously produced in the bone marrow. If the body does not receive a regular supply of necessary nutrients, the red blood cells may become malformed or die off at a faster rate than the body can replace them.
What are the symptoms of low red blood cells?
Anemia is a condition characterised by a low red blood cell count. It can lead to dangerous complications if it is not addressed properly.
Having a low red blood count or anemia can cause symptoms such as: fatigue; dizziness; shortness of breath; heart palpitations. Anaemia can lead to serious complications that may be life-threatening if left untreated.
Foods to eat to increase red blood cells
A low red blood cell count is usually due to low consumption of essential nutrients. Eating more nutrient-rich foods can give the body the necessary tools to create healthy red blood cells.
These vitamins and minerals can also be taken as supplements, although it is best to get nutrients straight from healthful foods. Try to consume foods rich in the following nutrients:
Iron is the nutrient most commonly associated with anemia. The body uses iron to make the hemoglobin that stores the oxygen in the blood cells. Without iron, these cells can die or be unable to deliver oxygen to the body.
Eating foods rich in iron can help prevent symptoms of anemia and keep the blood healthy. Sources of iron include: shellfish, such as oysters, clams, and mussels, spinach fortified cereals, prune juice, tuna, beef, tofu, chicken liver, white beans, lentils
A bowl with nutritional yeast flakes, a plant-based source of B-12. Nutritional yeast flakes are a plant-based source of vitamin B-12. Other sources include milk alternatives such as almond or soya milk.
Vitamin B-12 is important for brain function and creating new red blood cells. Low vitamin B-12 levels can prevent red blood cells from fully maturing. This deficiency can lead to abnormal red blood cells called megaloblasts, and a condition called megaloblastic anemia.
Vitamin B-12 is bound to protein in food and is naturally found in red meat, fish, and shellfish. Dairy products, such as milk and cheese, also contain vitamin B-12.
Vitamin B-12 is often added to fortified breakfast cereals, soya and nut milks, and nutritional yeast to supplement a person’s daily intake, particularly if they do not eat meat or dairy.
Vitamin B-9 is also known as folic acid or folate. It is an essential nutrient for the nervous system and adrenal glands and helps create new cells in the body.
with low levels of folate may develop anemia. Foods high in folic acid include:
lentils, garbanzos, asparagus, spinach, enriched breads and grains.
While vitamin C does not directly affect the red blood cells, it is still important because it helps the body absorb more iron. Iron helps increase the number of red blood cells that the body can make.
Vitamin C is found in a variety of foods, including: kiwi fruit, sweet red pepper, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit juice.
Copper is an essential mineral that helps the body use the iron in the bloodstream. If there is not enough copper in the body, it can be difficult for the body to absorb the iron the blood cells need to survive.
Copper can be found in foods such as:
beef liver, shellfish, such as oysters and crabs, cashews, sunflower seeds, lentils.
Vitamin A can be found in collard greens, kale, and other dark leafy greens. These can also be a good source of iron.
Retinol, commonly known as vitamin A, supports the red blood cell count in a similar way to copper. It can help the cells absorb the iron they need to stay healthy.
Foods rich in vitamin A include: beef liver, sweet potato, carrot, cod liver oil, dark leafy greens, such as kale, collards, and spinach
certain fruits, including cantaloupe and mango.
Making simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference in increasing red blood cell count.
Reducing alcohol consumption
It may be helpful to eliminate or reduce alcoholic beverages from the diet, as drinking too much alcohol may lower the RBC count.
According to dietary guidelines in the United States, moderate drinking for men is two alcoholic drinks per day or less and moderate drinking for women is one alcoholic drink a day or less.
Moderate exercise is beneficial for everyone, but it is especially important to create healthy red blood cells. Sustained vigorous exercise that raises the heart rate causes the body and brain to need more oxygen. This is why the heart beats faster, and the lungs breathe deeper and quicker.
This need for oxygen stimulates the body to produce more red blood cells. Regular exercise combined with a healthful diet means the bone marrow has the best tools to create those cells.
Workouts include: running, jogging, cycling, swimming, guided exercise classes, such as spinning or aerobics
Understanding blood count
Normal red blood cell counts vary from around 4.7 to 6.1 million cells per microliter (µL) for men and 4.2 to 5.4 million cells per µL for women. The normal count in children is 4.0 to 5.5 million cells per µL.
These ranges can vary from person to person, and may also change depending on the lab that is doing the tests.
Lower than average red blood cell counts can be caused by a number of disorders. These can include: bleeding and hemorrhaging, malnutrition, kidney disease, bone marrow failure
Higher than average red blood cell counts are dangerous and possibly life-threatening as well. They can be caused by several conditions, including: heart conditions, bone marrow disease, smoking tobacco, kidney problems, dehydration.
Certain medications can also affect the blood count, making it higher or lower than normal levels.