What are Red Blood Cells (RBC)?
Red blood cells (RBC) are the most prominent cells in the blood. It is about 40 percent of the whole blood in the body. They are also known as erythrocytes, erythroid cells, red cells, red blood corpuscles or haematids.
They help to carry oxygen from the respiratory organs of spinal cord to the cells of different parts of the body. Red blood cells are formed in the bone marrow. These cells are spherical, but the part between them is slightly suppressed. The number of red blood cells in the blood can be more or less according to the age of the person. Both conditions can cause problems.
Red blood cells carry out many other important functions in the body along with carrying oxygen and excluding carbon dioxide. These cells usually live for about 120 days, after which they are destroyed.
RBC Count Range
Red blood cell counts vary between men and women. The blood of men normally contains 4.7 to 6.1 million red blood cells per microliter. [Trusted Source 1]
Whereas in a normal woman, the number of these cells is about 4.2 to 5.4 million per microliter. [Trusted Source 1]
Children’s blood contains about 4 to 5.5 million red blood cells per microliter. However, this count may vary from person to person. [Trusted Source 1]
Causes of Low Red Blood Cell Count
It may have following reasons —
- Kidney disease
- Excess of bleeding
- Failure of bone marrow
- Excess of water in the body
Causes of Excess Red Blood Cell Count
Exceeding the normal number of red blood cells is dangerous for a person and can cause fatal conditions. There may be following reasons for this; including —
- Cardiovascular disease
- Having bone marrow disease
- Kidney problem
- Lack of water in the body
Certain medicines may also cause more or less red blood cell count.
How to Increase Red Blood Cells
A low red blood cell count usually occurs when an individual is not getting enough nutrition through diet. Here’s a food list that will surely help you to increase your red blood cell count in the blood —
If you’re red blood cell deficient (also called anemia), then vitamin A rich diet may help you. It helps in the absorption of iron to keep cells healthy.
You can fulfill the requirement of vitamin A by including these food and vegetables into your diet —
- Sweet potato
- Green leafy vegetables
- Beef liver
- Cod liver oil
Vitamin B9 is also known as folic acid or folate. Like vitamin B12 and iron, it is not directly linked to the formation of red blood cells, but it affects the number of red blood cells by playing an important role in cell division.
If an individual doesn’t take enough folate then his/her red blood cells do not get fully matured. Due to which there is an increased possibility of having anemia and low level of hemoglobin. Folate plays an important role in the production of hemoglobin.
It is required to make heme, a component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from blood and reaches it to all organs of the body. An adult needs to take about 400 to 600 mg of folic acid daily. It is also present in multivitamins.
Foods high in folic acid include —
Vitamin B12 is important for brain functions and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency in the blood prevents red blood cells from fully maturing. This deficiency causes red blood cells (RBC) to become abnormal, which are called megaloblasts or megaloblastic anemia. To take vitamin B12, you should include these foods into your diet —
- Red meat
- Dairy products like milk and cheese
Vitamin C does not directly affect red blood cells, but it helps the body to absorb iron. Iron helps in increasing red blood cells in the body. To get enough vitamin C in the diet, you should include rich sources of vitamin C such as —
- Citrus fruits like lemon, oranges, grapes, etc.
Copper is considered an essential mineral for the body to use iron present in the bloodstream.
If there is not enough copper in the body then it becomes difficult for the blood cells to absorb iron needed to survive. To get enough copper, you can add following foods —
Iron is a nutrient that is commonly associated with anemia. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin stores oxygen in red blood cells. Without iron, red blood cells may be destroyed or unable to carry oxygen to various parts of the body.
Children need to take 7 to 10 milligrams daily, teenage girls around 15 milligrams and women of gestational age (women aged 20 to 35) taking about 18 milligrams of iron. The intake of a diet rich in iron can increase the production of red blood cells in your body. To get enough iron in your diet, you should include —
Change in Lifestyle
If you make little changes in your daily lifestyle, then it can have a significant impact on red blood cells.
Exercise is beneficial for everyone, but exercise is considered very important in the formation of healthy red cells.
Heart rate increases due to faster life, due to which body and brain need more oxygen. Due to this, heart starts beating fast and the lungs start breathing deeply.
Human body is stimulated to produce red blood cells to meet oxygen requirement. Regular exercise along with a healthy diet helps in the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow. In your exercise you can include running, aerobics, jogging, cycling or swimming.
Drinking and Smoking:
If you want to increase your red blood cells, then you have to quit the habit of smoking and drinking alcohol. Cigarette smoking affects the blood flow of your body and it does not reach oxygen properly to all the organs. Along with this, there is a lack of oxygen in the bone marrow.
Apart from this, blood starts to thicken by drinking alcohol and this also causes a lack of oxygen in the blood. Excessive drinking reduces red blood cells in the blood and prevent them to get fully matured.
If your red blood cell count is low despite taking diet and supplements, then doctors can also choose the option of blood transfusion.
Blood plays an important role in a person’s health. Our blood plasma consists of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to body’s tissues and lungs. Along with this, it also works to stop bleeding on injury, to carry infection-fighting antibodies and cells to different parts of the body and to control body temperature. When more or less red blood cells present in the blood, a person starts having many problems. So, try to add nutritious food and avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.