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Foods to Eat to Increase Red Blood Cells

author image Esther Kinuthia RN BSN BA
Esther Kinuthia is a registered nurse with extensive experience in health and wellness. She holds a B.S. in nursing, B.A in psychology and has worked for more than ten years in the health-care field. She enjoys writing articles on a variety of topics for the Internet. Her work has been published in various websites.
Foods to Eat to Increase Red Blood Cells
A vial containing a blood sample.


Red blood cells are important for the transport of oxygen-rich blood to body tissues and removal of carbon dioxide from the body. Red blood cells are red because they contain an iron-rich protein known as hemoglobin, which is bright red in color. Over time, red blood cells wear out and die. The bone marrow continually makes more red blood cells. Certain foods increase production of red blood cells.


Anemia is a condition in which you body produces too few red blood cells or each cell contains too little hemoglobin. The most common type of anemia is called iron-deficiency anemia because it's usually related to a low consumption of dietary iron. The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends that adult men and post-menopausal women consume at least 8 mg of iron daily, while women of menstruating age need more, about 18 mg daily. Consuming vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits also helps raise your absorption of iron from foods. Women need at least 75 mg and men 90 mg of vitamin C daily.

Iron-Rich Foods

Your body uses the mineral iron to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin helps carry and store oxygen in the body. Consuming foods rich in iron can prevent anemia and help keep all your cells well-supplied with oxygen. Sources of iron include red meat, organ meat such as kidney and livers, beans, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, dried prunes, dried raisins and egg yolks, according to MedlinePlus.

Folic Acid-Rich Foods

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is a B-complex vitamin that helps the body make new healthy red blood cells. Patients with low levels of folic acid often develop anemia. Patients can increase red blood cells in the body by consuming foods rich in folic acid. Examples of foods with high amounts of folic acid include enriched breads and cereals, green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach, dried beans, peas and nuts.

Vitamin B-12-Rich Foods

Vitamin B-12 is a B-complex vitamin that is important for the DNA synthesis and production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Low levels of B-12 lead to abnormal cell division in the bone marrow that results in large immature red blood cells known as megaloblasts. Patients with megaloblasts suffer from megaloblastic anemia because the abnormal red blood cells cannot store or transport oxygen to tissues. Vitamin B-12 is naturally found in a wide variety of animal foods and is added to some fortified foods. Sources of vitamin B-12 include beef liver, fish, red meat, eggs, milk, dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals and nutritional yeasts.

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