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How to Increase Red Blood Cell count: Food items and supplements to include in your diet

Dr. Rashmi ByakodiJan 17, 2024

Do you feel tired all the time, even after a good night's sleep? Do you feel like fainting or dizzy for no apparent reason? If yes, then you might have Anaemia, a condition that happens when your Red Blood Cell (RBC) count is low. To overcome this problem, you need to include nutrient-rich food items in your diet. A good diet can help significantly in haemoglobin synthesis and RBC production. Keep reading to learn more about which food items and supplements are best for increasing your RBC count.




What is the Red Blood Cell count?

Red Blood Cells, also known as erythrocytes, are the most common cells found in blood and formed in the bone marrow. Red Blood Cells contain an element called haemoglobin that transports oxygen to different parts of your body. Besides transporting oxygen, it transports carbon dioxide from the cells to the lungs, which gets released as you exhale. Red Blood Cell Count means the number of red blood cells present in your blood. The normal RBC Count in males is 4.7 to 6.1 million cells per cubic millimetre (million cells/mm3), and in females, it is 4.2 to 5.4 million cells/mm3. Further, the haemoglobin count in adult males should be 14 to 18 g/dl (grams per decilitre), and in females, it should be 12 to 16 g/dl.

When your RBC Count is low, the oxygen supply gets disrupted in your body. This condition results in a serious complication known as Anaemia. The symptoms of Anaemia include the following.

  • Shortness of breath

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Muscle weakness

  • Lack of energy

  • Pale skin

  • Dizziness

  • Chest pain

  • Heart palpitation

  • High risk of infection

If you encounter any of these symptoms of Anaemia, contact your doctor immediately. Anaemia can put you at risk of many serious complications, and sometimes it may prove to be life-threatening if timely treatment measures are not taken.

Causes of low RBC count

There could be many reasons for a lower blood count, from chronic diseases to external factors.

  • If you body begins to destroy red blood more than its producing it

  • Extreme blood loss 

  • Aplastic anemia 

  • Cancer 

  • Some medications

  • Chronic kidney disease 

  • Hypothyroidism

  •  Iron deficiency 

  • Lead poisoning

How to increase Red Blood Cell count

Your body requires certain vital nutrients to make Red Blood Cells. These nutrients include iron, copper, folate, vitamin A, B12, C, and vitamin E. Consuming a diet containing these nutrients may help you increase your Red Blood Cell Count. The food items that contain these nutrients are mentioned below. 

1. Iron

Consuming iron-rich foods daily helps increase the Red Blood Cell Count because iron is an essential component for Red Blood Cells production. Iron deficiency causes Anaemia. The best iron-rich foods, along with their iron content, are listed below.

Food items Portion Size (in grams) Milligram mg)/portion
Pork Liver 125 24.4
Mutton 150 3.3
Shrimps 100 1.8
Oats 60 2.7
Muesli 50 1.7
Spinach 150 4.6
Chickpeas 150 3.3
Green peas 250 2.5
Beetroot 150 1.2
Pistachios 60 4.4
Cashews 60 3.8
Tofu 100 2.8
Whole grain rice (boiled) 180 2.2
Millet (cooked) 80 2.1

2. Copper

Copper is an essential nutrient that helps you utilise iron in your blood. Copper deficiency may lead to an imbalance of iron levels in your body. The foods that are rich sources of copper are listed here.

Food items Portion Size Microgram (mcg)/portion
Oysters 85 g 12,400
Potatoes 1 medium size 675
Shiitake mushrooms ½ cup 650
Cashews 28 g 629
Crabs 85 g 624
Sunflower seeds ¼ cup 615
Dark chocolate 28 g 501
Tofu ½ cup 476
Chickpeas ½ cup 289
Millet (cooked) 1 cup 280
Avocados (raw) ½ cup 219
Dried figs ½ cup 214
Spinach (cooked) ½ cup 157

3. Folate

Also known as vitamin B9, folate helps in the production of Red Blood Cells. The best sources of folate are as follows.

Food items Portion Size Microgram (mcg) DFE/portion
Spinach (cooked) ½ cup 215
Fortified breakfast cereal 1 cup 100
Asparagus (boiled) 4 spears 89
Brussels sprouts (boiled) ½ cup 78
Lettuce 1 cup 64
Avocados ½ cup 59
Broccoli (cooked) ½ cup 52
Green peas (cooked) ½ cup 47
Kidney beans ½ cup 46
Wheat germ oil 2 tablespoons 40

4. Vitamin A (Retinol)

Vitamin A may support iron absorption and metabolism to avert Anaemia. Foods high in vitamin A are as follows.

Food items Portion Size Microgram (mcg) RAE/portion
Liver (cooked) 85 grams 6582
Sweet potatoes (baked) 1 whole 1403
Spinach (cooked) ½ cup 573
Pumpkin (pie) 1 piece 488
Carrots raw ½ cup 459
Skimmed milk added with vitamin A and D 1 cup 149
Ricotta cheese (skimmed) ½ cup 133
Sweet red bell peppers, raw ½ cup 117
Breakfast cereal fortified with vitamin A 1 serving 90
Boiled egg 1 large 75
Apricots 5 apricots 63
Broccoli (boiled) ½ cup 60

5. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 helps increase mean plasma and RBC magnesium levels significantly. It also elevates Red Blood Cell Count considerably. Vitamin B6 can be obtained in a wide variety of foods, including these.

Food items Portion Size Milligram (mg) /portion
Chickpeas 1 cup 1.1
Chicken breast (roasted) 85 grams 0.5
Breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin B6 1 serving 0.4
Potatoes (boiled) 1 cup 0.4
Turkey meat (roasted) 85 grams 0.4
Banana 1 medium 0.4
Bulgur wheat (cooked) 1 cup 0.2
Cottage cheese low fat 1 cup 0.2
Squash (baked) ½ cup 0.2

7. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Although vitamin C is not directly involved with Red Blood Cells, it plays a significant role in iron absorption, just like copper. Since the body cannot store vitamin C, it is required on a per-day basis. Vitamin C can be found in these food items.

Food items Portion Size Milligram(mg) /portion
Red bell pepper sweet (raw) ½ cup 95
Orange juice ¾ cup 93
Grapefruit juice ¾ cup 70
Kiwifruit 1 medium 64
Green bell pepper sweet (raw) ½ cup 60
Broccoli (cooked) ½ cup 51
Strawberries ½ cup 49
Brussels sprouts (cooked) ½ cup 48
Tomato juice ¾ cup 33
Cabbage (cooked) ½ cup 28
Cauliflower (raw) ½ cup 26

8. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect Red Blood Cells from oxidative damage. Vitamin E can be obtained from these food items.

Food items Portion Size Milligram(mg) /portion
Wheat germ oil 1 tablespoon 20.3
Sunflower seeds 28 grams 7.4
Almonds 28 grams 6.8
Hazelnuts 28 grams 4.3
Peanut butter 2 tablespoons 2.9
Roasted peanuts 28 grams 2.2
Spinach(cooked) ½ cup 1.9
Broccoli (cooked) ½ cup 1.2

What level of low RBC is concerning?

RBC counts that are below the below mentioned readings need attention:

  • 4.7 for men

  • 4.2 for women

  • 4.1 for children.

Supplements to increase Red Blood Cell Counts

If you are not getting a sufficient amount of nutrients from your diet, supplements can help enhance the Red Blood Cell Count in your body. But before adding any supplements to your regimen, you must consult your healthcare professional. It is also important to understand the recommended dosage.

The table mentioned below shows the recommended amount of nutrients necessary for the human body to maintain an optimal Red Blood Cell Count.

Name of the Nutrient Age (in Years) Recommended dietary allowance per day (Female) Recommended dietary allowance per day (Male)
Iron 19 to 50 years 18 mg 8 mg
Copper 19 years and older 900 mcg 900 mcg
Folate 19 years and older 400 mcg DFE* 400 mcg DFE*
Vitamin A (retinol) 19 years and older 700 mcg RAE# 900 mcg RAE#
Vitamin B6 19 to 50 years 1.3 mg 1.3 mg
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) 19 years and older 2.4 mcg 2.4 mcg
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 19 years and older 75 mg 90 mg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 14 years and older 15 mg 15 mg

*DFE: Dietary folate equivalents

#RAE: Retinol activity equivalents

Other than diet and supplements, some lifestyle modifications like incorporating walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, and aerobics exercises in your daily routine and cutting down on alcohol intake can help elevate your Red Blood Cell Count.

The bottom line

Other than diet and supplements, some lifestyle modifications like incorporating walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, and aerobics exercises in your daily routine and cutting down on alcohol intake can help elevate your Red Blood Cell Count.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s a list of common questions and answers related to increasing in RBC count.


How can I increase my Red Blood Cell Count?

Iron is the key element in increasing Red Blood Cell Count. You need to include some iron-rich foods like pork liver, mutton, shrimp, fish, oats, muesli, spinach, chickpeas, cabbage, beetroot, and pistachios in your diet to elevate your Red Blood Cell Count.

Which vitamins are responsible for increasing Red Blood Cell Count in the body?

Vitamins such as A, B6, B9, B12, C, and E help optimise the Red Blood Cell levels in the body.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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