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5 Nutrients boosting red blood cell counts
Feeling weak, tired, or drained? One possible reason could be a low red blood cell count. When you have a lower red blood cell count than normal, your body has to work overtime to get enough oxygen to body cells, which can leave you feeling extra tired.
The most abundant cells in human blood are red blood cells. These cells contain hemoglobin which is an iron-rich protein giving blood its distinctive red color and is responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood throughout our body. The red blood cells also helps remove carbon dioxide from the body to be disposed of. Red blood cells have a lifespan of about 3 months in which they wear out and die. But they do get replaced since our bone marrow continually makes more red blood cells.
What is a normal red blood cell count?
A normal red blood cell count can vary from around 4.7 to 6.1 million cells per microliter for men and 4.2 to 5.4 million cells per microliter for women. For children, the normal count is 4.0 to 5.5 million cells per microliter. These ranges can vary from person to person, and may also change depending on the lab that is doing the tests.
Having a low red blood cell count can be due to several reasons such as bleeding and hemorrhaging, malnutrition, bone marrow failure, or overhydration. This can result in anemia causing symptoms such as fatigue and weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations. Anemia is when your body produces too few red blood cells or each cell contains too little hemoglobin. The most common type of anemia is iron-deficiency anemia. If left untreated, it could possibly lead to serious complications.
Nutrients in foods that can increase red blood cell count
When our red blood cell count slips, one of the best natural ways to correct this is to consume more nutrient-rich foods giving our body the tools necessary to make more of them. You could take a vitamin-mineral supplement but our body absorbs nutrients best when they come from eating food.
Here is a list of nutrients and foods they are found in that will boost your red blood cell count the best:
The most common nutrient associated with preventing anemia is iron. This red blood cell booster is used to make hemoglobin that stores oxygen in the blood cells. Without iron’s power, these cells can die or be unable to deliver oxygen to the body. Daily, men require 8 milligrams while women need 18 milligrams – after menopause, women only require 8 milligrams just like men. Below are the best sources of this mineral:
· Red meat, poultry, fish
· Fortified cereals
· Prune juice
2. Vitamin B-12
This vitamin which is only found in foods of animal origin, is vital for proper brain functioning and for creating new red blood cells. If you are deficient in vitamin B-12, this can prevent red blood cells from maturing. A deficiency of this vitamin has its own specific type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia which can lead to abnormal red blood cells called megaloblasts. Daily, both men and women require 2.4 micrograms. Foods sources of B-12 include:
· Red meat, fish, poultry
· Milk and cheese
· Fortified breakfast cereals
· Fortified soy and nut milks
· Fortified nutritional yeast
3. Folate or folic acid
Here is another important B vitamin in creating red blood cells. The difference between folate and folic acid is that folate occurs naturally in food while folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin. This B vitamin also is essential for the nervous system and for breaking down and converting the food we eat into energy. Daily, men and women require 400 milligrams of folate or folic acid. Below are rich sources of this vitamin:
· Garbanzo beans
· Enriched breads and cereals
· Oranges and orange juice
· Beef liver
· Black-eyed peas
· Brussel sprouts
· Mustard greens
4. Vitamin C
This water soluble vitamin does not have a direct role in affecting red blood cells. But, it earns itself a spot on this list since vitamin C helps the body absorb iron better. Iron, remember, helps increase the number of red blood cells that the body can make. The more iron absorbed thanks to sufficient intake of vitamin C, the more red blood cells that can be created. Daily, men require 90 milligrams while women require 75 milligrams. Vitamin C is found in a variety of foods including:
· Citrus fruits – oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes
· Kiwi fruit
· Red and green bell peppers
· Brussel sprouts
This essential mineral helps the body to absorb iron so if you were deficient in copper, it would be difficult for the body to absorb the iron in order to help make red blood cells. Daily, men and women need 900 micrograms of copper. Best food sources include:
· Sesame seeds
· Sunflower seeds
· Beef liver
· Beans and peas
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