Have you been told you need to increase your blood count but you don’t even know what this means or where to begin?
Keep reading to find out what nutrients to focus on and what foods to eat to increase your blood count!
What is a blood count?
In general a blood count is a measure of different components in the blood. Your doctor can measure this with a simple lab test. Typically a Complete Blood Count (CBC) would include a measure for red blood cells, white blood cells, hemoglobin, and hematocrit, amongst others.
Symptoms of a low blood count
If someone says they have a “low blood count”, they would most likely be referring to low iron levels, possibly diagnosed as anemia. Symptoms of low iron may include pale skin, weakness, fatigue, lightheadedness, or headaches and dizziness.
However, these symptoms can be indicative of many different ailments, so you should always consult your doctor before changing your diet or supplement regimen.
What nutrients affect blood counts?
To increase blood count including red blood cells and hemoglobin, it is recommended to consume iron rich foods. If you have been diagnosed with anemia, it is important to consult with your doctor for appropriate treatment, as not all types of anemia are caused by low iron or require additional iron in your diet.
Recommended iron intake
The National Institutes of Health states that the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 8 milligrams per day for adult men, and 18 milligrams per day for adult premenopausal women.
5 Foods to increase blood count
Assuming your doctor has recommended increasing your intake of iron in order to increase blood count, it is important to know what kinds of foods are high in iron. The National Institutes of Health lists foods high in iron and the following are some highlights that can help increase your red blood count or iron levels.
- Beef – It is no surprise that beef tops the list for foods to increase iron levels. However you may be surprised that it is not the food with the highest iron content! One serving of beef contains about 2 milligrams of iron. Beef liver has a little more, at 5 milligrams per serving.
- Spinach – This is another more well-known high iron food. One serving of spinach has 3 milligrams of iron. However, iron found in plant sources is not very well absorbed.
- Oysters – One serving of cooked oysters could meet a man’s full iron daily requirement at 8 milligrams per serving.
- White Beans – White beans are also a great source of iron, although similarly to spinach, the non-animal sources are not as well absorbed
- Iron-Fortified Cereals – To top the list is iron fortified cereals. Just one serving of iron fortified cereal will meet 100% of the recommended intake for an adult woman.
Vitamin C helps to absorb iron
When foods high in vitamin C are consumed at the same time as foods high in iron, your body will do a better job in absorbing the iron. Therefore, it is recommended to consume these types of foods together. Some foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and potatoes.
Calcium may reduce absorption
Unfortunately, foods high in calcium can decrease the absorption of iron in your body. Foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, dark green vegetables, or soy are high in calcium and should be eaten at different times than foods high in iron when focusing on increasing your iron levels. Similarly, if you take any vitamin supplements, be sure to take iron and calcium supplements at different times of the day.
When food isn’t enough
There may be times when changing your diet will not be enough to increase your blood count levels to an appropriate level. Always be sure to check back in with your doctor who may reassess your need for supplementation.
If you find this interesting or helpful, be sure to check out the other articles on my blog!