Red blood cells, or erythrocytes, play an essential role in your health. The double concave disc-shaped cells contain proteins that bind oxygen from the air in your lungs, then store and transport that essential oxygen to other cells throughout your body. A number of nutrients, such as minerals and vitamins, help contribute to red blood cell growth and function. Eating vegetables containing erythrocyte-healthy vitamins can help nourish your red blood cells.
Vegetables high in iron can benefit your red blood cells. lron makes up an essential part of your diet, and proves essential for the function of hemoglobin, a protein abundant within your red blood cells. Hemoglobin contains four iron molecules, and each of these irons can bind oxygen, carrying the oxygen into your tissues. Vegetables rich in iron include green leafy vegetables, beans and peas. The iron in plants, called non-heme iron, isn't as well absorbed as the iron from animal sources. To help maximize your iron intake, pair iron-rich veggies with animal sources of iron, such as meat, poultry or fish. Foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, also increase non-heme iron absorption.
Vitamin E-Rich Vegetables
Consuming vegetables rich in vitamin E can also benefit your red blood cells, by helping to encourage proper cell turnover. Your body continually produces new red blood cells, while destroying older cells. Maintaining the balance between new cell growth and old cell destruction helps maintain constant red blood cell counts. Vitamin E helps contribute to new red blood cell production, while vitamin E deficiency increases the rate of red blood cell destruction, the Colorado State University website explains. Consuming leafy greens, sweet potatoes, asparagus and avocado all provide a source of vitamin E to help promote the health of your erythrocytes.
Folic Acid-Rich Vegetables
Vegetables that contain folic acid, or vitamin B-9, also help keep your red blood cells healthy. Folic acid promotes the growth and development of new red blood cells. People suffering from folic acid deficiency develop anemia because they cannot generate enough healthy and functional red blood cells cells to support their body's oxygen requirements, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Spinach, asparagus, lime and garbanzo beans, as well as lentils, all provide vegetable sources of folic acid to support your red blood cells.
Vitamin B-6-Rich Vegetables
Vegetables rich in vitamin B-6 can also benefit your red blood cells. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, vitamin B-6 act as a cofactor to enzymes that produce heme -- the part of hemoglobin that binds oxygen. Without adequate vitamin B-6, your body produces less functional heme, and in turn produces less functional hemoglobin. Consuming vegetables such as spinach, lentils, carrots, beans and vegetable juice cocktails can also provide a source of vitamin B-6 for your body and support proper hemoglobin function.
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Iron; Dr. Steven Ehrlich; June 2009
- Colorado State University; Vitamin E; R. Bowen; May 2003
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Vitamin E; Dr. Steven Ehrlich; December 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Folate-Deficiency Anemia - Overview; Dr. Yi-Bin Chen; January 2010
- Linus Pauling Institute; Vitamin B-6; Dr. Jane Higdon; February 2002
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Vitamin B-6 (Pyrixodine); Dr. Steven Ehrlich; June 1009