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Build Your Red Blood Cell Count With These Nutrients

By Paul Rothbart

Red blood cells have an important job. They deliver oxygen to all of the body's cells. Without oxygen, the cells can't burn food for energy and the body would not be able to function at all. Red blood cells have a life cycle of about 120 days. They are produced in the bone marrow and go into the circulatory system. At the end of the cycle, they enter the liver where they are broken down and recycled. It's an efficient system that relies on the constant creation of new blood cells. A low red blood cell count reduces the amount of oxygen the cells receive. The result is fatigue and a lack of energy. Shortness of breath can also happen as the body seeks to increase oxygen flow. At the extreme, anemia can happen. Keeping up your red blood cell count is important and you can do that by making sure you get enough of these nutrients.


The number one nutrient when it comes to a healthy red blood cell count is iron. Iron forms hemoglobin in the blood and this molecule is what oxygen attaches to and allows red blood cells to do their job. Iron deficiencies are common. You can get this mineral in red meats and especially in organ meats. Shellfish such as oysters and mussels are also good sources of iron as are spinach, lentils, and beans.


Research has found that a copper deficiency can also contribute to a reduced red blood cell count. Liver is especially rich in copper and by eating oysters, you get copper with your iron. Copper can also be found in lobster, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. Another very tasty food that is a good source of copper is shitake mushrooms. Candy lovers will be happy to know that you can get plenty of copper from dark chocolate. Just don't overdo the calories.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that among other things, can help produce red blood cells. If you enjoy liver and kidneys, you are in luck. These organ meats tend to contain the nutrients necessary for a healthy red cell count. They are rich in Vitamin B12 as are clams, tuna, trout, and sardines. Beef is a popular protein choice and is loaded with B12. You can also get Vitamin B12 from fortified foods such as nutritional yeast and cereal.

Red blood cells perform one of the most important jobs in the body. It's vital for them to continually be regenerated to avoid health problems and potentially anemia. Getting sufficient amounts of the right nutrients can prevent this. Supplements can help but it is generally better to get nutrition from food.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Peachtree Corners, Ga.

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