To increase blood supply or blood flow is often refers to the increase of healthy red blood cells (RBC) count. Low RBC in the body causes anemia which also refers to low hemoglobin. Anemia is a condition in which the concentration of hemoglobin in the red blood cells (RBC) is lower than normal. Hemoglobin is the protein in the red blood cells (RBC) that is responsible for carrying sufficient oxygen from your lungs to all parts of the body tissues and carrying carbon dioxide from all the body tissues to your lungs to be exhaled out from the body.
Anemia is a major global public health crisis. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 42% of children less than 5 years of age and 40% of pregnant women worldwide are anemic. There are different types of anemia but essential nutritional deficiencies such as iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and folate are the main causes for most cases. Other causes include sudden loss of a higher amount of blood, hemoglobinopathies, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, parasitic infections, and HIV.
Millions of red blood cells are created in the bone marrow each day. A high amount of RBC count can also deplete oxygen levels.
Normal Red Blood Cell Count
Red blood cell (RBC) count is an estimate of the number of red blood cells per liter of an individual’s blood.
- 4.7 to 6.1 x 1012/L in adult men
- 4.2 to 5.4 x 1012/L in adult women
- 3.8 to 6.0 x 1012/L in children
Normal counts may vary depending on the individual’s age, physical activity, and other factors. If your RBC count is higher or lower than normal, talk to your doctor to determine the underlying cause and improve the condition.
Let’s have a look at the essential vitamin and mineral-dense foods that help in the production of red blood cells, boost blood flow, and maintain optimum circulation:
Iron-rich foods help in the production of the red blood cells and hemoglobin protein that stores oxygen in the cells to transport them throughout our body. A low amount of iron can decrease red blood cells production and a high amount of iron can create oxidative stress in the body.
During pregnancy iron deficiency is a common cause of anemia. You must consult with your doctor before taking any iron supplement.
Food that contains a high amount of iron include:
- Beans, legumes, and lentils
- Red meat such as beef
- Organ meat (i.e., liver and kidney)
- Oysters, muscles, and clams
- Dark, leafy, and green vegetables
- Fish such as tuna and sardines
- Chocolate with cacao solids
- Dried fruits such as dates and raisins
When eating iron-rich food it is also recommended that you should eat foods that contain Vitamin C because Vitamin C helps increase iron absorption to aid in more red blood cells production. Good sources of Vitamin C-rich foods are:
- citrus fruits (i.e., orange, lemon)
- Black currents
- Leafy greens
Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid) and B12
Research suggests that deficiency of folate or vitamin B12 causes anemia from ineffective erythropoiesis which is a process where new erythrocytes (red blood cells) are produced. It is not just iron but folate and vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in erythropoiesis.
A randomized controlled trial during the 4-week observation period showed premature infants, especially those with birth weights of <1500 g, often suffers from anemia of prematurity and associated problems concluded that B12 and folate increased red blood cell counts by 10 percent.
Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia can occur when you are not getting enough vitamin B12 rich diets such as dairy foods, eggs, and meat.
Folate rich foods include:
- Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, and lemons
- Legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils
- Nuts and Flax seeds
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, spring greens, and kale
- Beef Liver
- Fruits such as banana, papaya, and avocado
- Breakfast cereals fortified with folic acid
One study indicates that vitamin B6 deficiency is one of the common causes of nutritional anemia in pregnancy. Pregnant women with anemia are, in general, exclusively treated with iron supplementation. Several pregnant women with anemia who were nonresponsive to iron supplementation also had vitamin B6 deficiency, and that anemia in these cases improved with the administration of vitamin B6.
Foods that are high in vitamin B6 include:
- Poultry, such as chicken or turkey
- Fish such as Salmon and Tuna
- Green peas
- Soya beans
- Chicken liver
- Sweet potato
To metabolize iron for the production of red blood cells copper plays a vital role in activating iron regulating hormones. Copper is the most important micronutrient that unlocks iron from the tissues to release them into the bloodstream.
Food that contains a high amount of copper include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Shitake mushrooms
- Leafy greens
- Dark chocolate
Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Simple lifestyle changes for adopting a healthy lifestyle can have a huge impact on increased red blood cell (RBC) count. Lifestyle changes include:
Moderate to intense physical activities such as walking, cycling, swimming, jogging can help in the production of healthy red blood cells. American Heart Association advises doing 150 minutes of exercise per week to remain healthy.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol consumption can reduce red blood cells count. To prevent anemia it is recommended to limit alcohol consumption.
Smocking can cause higher than the normal unhealthy red blood cell count. So avoiding smoking can help generate healthy red blood cells.
Too high or too low both levels of red blood cell (RBC) count have health risks. A healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle, and daily natural supplements are essential for an optimum level of red blood cell production and blood circulations. It is also crucial to increase iron absorption from your diet to prevent the risk of anemia, especially for pregnant women and infants.