10 Natural Whole Foods That Help Increase The Platelet Count
Created by Vandana Chawla Updated on Feb 25, 2019
We often hear a lot about the term, ‘Platelets' and of late it has become very common. Anyone & everyone is often heard saying, "the platelet count has fallen" or "the platelet count is not increasing"…..This is followed by a host of advice coming from all over, try this or eat this or avoid this etc. Let's try understanding the whole story around ‘Platelets'. Fall in Platelet count is not a simple issue but one good thing is that the count can be increased and maintained within normal limits naturally, by including certain foods in the diet.
What are Platelets?
First, let's understand what is platelets? Platelets are the smallest of our blood cells, seen only under a microscope, circulate within our blood and bind together at the site of a damaged blood vessel. In simple words, when there is a cut or an injury to any blood vessel, it sends a signal to the blood cells. On receiving the signal, the platelets rush to the site, bind together and clamp the damaged vessel, thereby controlling or stopping the bleeding. You can call them, "On-site repairing engineers".
What is Platelet Count?
Platelets have a vital role to play, maintaining a normal count of these tiny blood cells is very important. A normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. You get your platelet count from a routine blood test called a complete blood count (CBC). Both, an increase in count or fall in the count is indicative of some underlying problem, which can be interpreted by the doctors.
When does the Platelet Count fall?
The Platelet count of less than 150,000 per microliter of blood is indicative of Low platelet count and the condition is clinically termed as “ Thrombocytopenia”. The fall in the count indicates that something in the blood is preventing the formation of platelets. This can be due to many reasons, like, certain medications, viral infection, an inherited condition, kidney dysfunction etc. However, the commonest cause amongst these is the viral infection or dengue fever, which brings a drastic fall in the count. So much so, the level of improvement in a person during dengue fever is seen in relation to the platelet count. A fall in platelet count due to reasons other than viral infection may result in symptoms like fatigue, delayed wound healing, bleeding gums/nose, blood in urine or stools and even heavy menstrual bleeding.
10 Natural Foods That Help to Increase Platelet Count Easily
Fall in Platelet count is not a simple issue but one good thing is that the count can be increased and maintained within normal limits naturally, by including certain foods in the diet. Vitamins and minerals that can help to increase the platelet count naturally are -
- Folate-rich Foods- Folate is a B vitamin which is essential for healthy blood cells. Folate has derived its name from the word, "Follium", which means leaves. Hence its mainly found in green leaves or veggies. Foods, like, spinach, green leafy veggies, asparagus, black-eyed peas (Lobia) are great sources of this vitamin. Deficiency of folate has been associated with low platelet count, hence increasing the intake of this nutrient via the foods is important in increasing the count.
- Vitamin B-12 Foods- Vitamin B-12 is necessary for the formation of red blood cells. Low levels of B-12 in the body may also contribute to low platelet counts. B-12 is mainly found in animal foods, like, eggs, meat and milk or cheese. For vegans or vegetarians who do not dairy, should go for supplements to increase or maintain the count. [Check: How Vitamins Play Key Role in Growing Child’s Development?]
- Vitamin C- rich foods- Vitamin C plays an important role in the immune function, plus it also helps the platelets to work correctly and in addition, improves the body's ability to absorb iron, which is another essential nutrient for platelets. Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, like, oranges, kiwi, berries, like strawberry, mangoes, pineapple, green and red peppers, broccoli and our very own amla. As this vitamin is heat sensitive, best to consume these foods in raw form.
- Vitamin K- rich foods- Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health. Some studies have indicated that increasing Vitamin K-rich foods in the diet has helped in improving the count as well as controlling the symptoms. Foods rich in Vitamin K are green leafy vegetables(spinach, turnip greens, parsley, kale) broccoli, pumpkin, eggs, and meat.
- Iron-Rich Foods- Iron is essential for healthy levels of red blood cells and platelets. Foods like, green leafy vegetables, dals, red kidney beans (rajma), bajra, pumpkin seeds are great sources of Iron. Animal foods like eggs and meat have low iron content but the absorption by the body is very good; hence they are also considered as good sources. Combining Iron-rich foods with Vitamin C-rich foods helps in improving its absorption. For instance, going for fruit salad along with your meal or having a bean salad with citrus fruit added.
- Vitamin A-rich foods – Vitamin A helps in healthy platelet production. Foods like all colored fruits and veggies like, carrots, yellow pumpkin, sweet potato, all greens plus milk, cheese, eggs, meat are all great sources of this vitamin. [Check Vitamin-A Rich Foods for Your Child's Eyes]
- Vitamin D-rich foods- Vitamin D plays an important role in the function of bone marrow cells that produce platelets and other blood cells. Our body can produce Vitamin D but it needs to be exposed to sunlight at certain times of the day. In addition, foods like, Egg yolk, fatty fish, like salmon are great sources.
- Chlorophyll- Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants. Taking chlorophyll may help to relieve some of the symptoms of a low platelet count, but research on this is limited. Wheatgrass which is rich in chlorophyll and known to be a great immunity booster has shown to improve the platelet count.
- Papaya & papaya leaf extract - Loaded with vitamin A, fully ripe papaya is a great food that helps in increasing the platelet. Many studies have indicated the role of papaya in increasing the platelet count. Also, animal studies on papaya leaf extract have revealed a significant improvement in the platelet and red blood cell count. Papaya leaf juice can be prepared from fresh leaves, by either crushing them and then extracting the juice or by boiling the cleaned leaves in water and getting the concoction.
- Pomegranate- Pomegranate is another great fruit, which helps to increase platelets. The fruit is packed with iron, vitamin C and antioxidants which are all essential for combating low platelet count. The fruit has been used since ancient times for its healthy and medicinal properties.
To conclude. People with low platelet count may be able to improve their condition by eating specific foods or by taking supplements. At the same time, it is also important to avoid alcohol, aspartame, and quinine that decrease platelet levels. However, it is always advisable to seek medical advice to understand the underlying cause for the low platelet count.