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, reports Medical News Today.
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 color.
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.
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
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.
People with low levels of folate may develop anemia. Foods high in folic acid include:
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:
sweet red pepper
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:
shellfish, such as oysters and crabs
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:
cod liver oil
dark leafy greens, such as kale, collards, and spinach
certain fruits, including cantaloupe and mango