How to increase your Red Blood Cell (RBC) count?
How to increase your Red Blood Cell (RBC) count? Red blood cells (RBC) also called as erythrocytes are the most abundant cell type in the human body without which an individual will not be able to survive even for a moment. Hemoglobin is a respiratory pigment present in the RBC, which gives blood its color. Additionally, the Red Blood Cell is anucleated, which leaves more room for hemoglobin.
What is the function of RBC?
Haemoglobin, present in the Red blood cell is the carrier of oxygen all throughout the body. It provides oxygen to all tissues and cells of the body and takes the carbon dioxide away. It is majorly comprised of Iron.
What are the consequences of Iron deficiency?
If you don't have enough iron in your body, your body won't be able to make enough RBCs. Therefore iron deficiency may cause several health issues in the body as all the cells of the body will not receive enough oxygen. The most common health issue is Iron Deficiency Anaemia caused either due to reduced intake of iron rich foods, increased demand of iron by the body or due to poor absorption of iron by the body.
What are the symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anaemia ?
You may feel tired throughout the day. Common symptoms include..
light headedness, and
a fast heartbeat.
What are the major nutrients required for RBC production?
Your bone marrow continuously produces newer red blood cells to replace the ones that have reached the end of their lifespan (100-120 days). The rate at which production of RBCs occurs, highly depends on your diet. Therefore eating foods that are rich in certain nutrients will increase the production of RBC.
The major Nutrients required for an optimum RBC production are Vitamin A, Iron, B-Vitamins, Folate and Copper. Lets study each one of them in detail.
Iron: Iron forms the active part of heme in the blood and thereby eating iron rich foods, helps in production of healthy RBCs. So iron is a very crucial nutrient to produce RBC in every cycle. Natural sources of iron include garden cress seeds, green leafy vegetables, ragi flour, sprouts, turmeric powder and so on. Green can easily be incorporated in our diet in the form of Methi Paratha and Lehsuni Matki Palak Tikki.
Lehsuni Matki Palak Tikki
Click here to read about Other Sources of Iron.
2. Folate (Vitamin B9): Folate deficiency anaemia is also common in many. This is because folate is a nutrient which aids in RBC production.
They also help in the maintenance of RBC. All dals and pulses, spinach, chawli leaves, sesame seeds etc. are a good source of vitamin B9. Click here for Detailed Sources of Folate. A serving of Moong Dal Methi Subzi helps you make up for 9% of your day’s requirement for folate.
Moong Dal Methi Sabzi
3. Zinc: Zinc is a trace mineral which has many functions like building immunity, fighting free radicals, growth, wound healing and also helps in synthesis of heme portion of haemoglobin. Major sources of zinc include seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, greens like spinach, wheat germ, nuts as well as cereals and pulses. Read about All Sources of Zinc.
Try the recipe of Almond Bhakri. Apart from zinc, almonds contain a lot of healthy fats, fibre, protein, magnesium and vitamin E.
4. Copper: Copper is also a trace mineral which is a cofactor of enzymes essential for iron absorption. Major vegetarian sources of copper include seeds like sunflower seeds, nuts like walnuts and cereals and pulses to some extent. Learn How to Roast Sunflower Seeds and then top your healthy salad bowl with some of these roasted seeds.
How To Roast Sunflower Seeds
5. Vitamin A: Vitamin A helps support the production of new RBC. Include a whole lot of plant sources in your diet to ensure its intake. Spinach Mint Juice, is a perfect drink to gain in all necessary nutrients required for RBC production. Vitamin A, iron and folate.
Spinach and Mint Juice ( Healthy Juice)
Check the Nutrient Profile of Spinach Mint Juice. This juice is also a good source of vitamin C because of the addition of lemon juice. This will further ensure iron absorption. Have a glass of this juice in the morning to avoid fatigue.
6. Vitamin B12: This vitamin also helps to activate enzymes needed for RBC production. Though non-vegetarian foods are the best sources of this vitamin, ova vegetarians can include eggs in their diet as a source of vitamin B12.
Other fair sources of vitamin B 12 include dairy products – milk, curd and paneer. Mint Raita is a healthy choice to be served as an accompaniment to your main meals.
5 Tips to get enough Iron
1. If you are a non vegetarian, eat lean red meat, chicken and fish – they have good quantity of haeme iron which is absorbed easily. Eating it several times a week may help if you are deficient.
2. If you are a vegetarian, choose non-haeme sources like green leafy vegetables, eat a tablespoon of garden cress seeds (halim) at least thrice a week and include lots of iron rich plant sources. Try Halim Drink to boost your iron intake and RBC production.
Halim Recipe, Garden Cress, Best Source Of Iron
3. Consume foods rich in Vitamin C like lemon, orange, sweet lime, guava and berries, it will facilitate the absorption of iron in your body. Some lemon juice drizzled over leafy greens will increase the amount you absorb. Or a Lemon based dressing on salads is the best. Try the recipe of Kale Masoor Veg Antioxidant Salad.
Kale, Masoor Veg Antioxidant Healthy Office Salad
4. Avoid coffee, tea or milk during meals, they can hinder iron absorption. Have it between the meals.
5. Foods containing phytates (cereals and grains), calcium ( milk and dairy) and polyphenols (tea and coffee) can hinder iron absorption. Do not consume them with iron sources.
Because of menstrual losses, requirement of iron for women is higher than that of men. And the requirements of pregnant ladies is even more high! However, too much of iron can cause iron toxicity so make sure you have them in the recommended amounts! Refer to our article on Daily Iron Requirements.
By carefully selecting the foods you eat and knowing how certain foods can enhance or inhibit absorption, you can make sure you are getting the iron you need. This will help you in maintaining an optimum Red Blood Cell (RBC) count!
Stay informed and make wise choices!