The spleen is a spongy organ and is located under the rib cage and on the left side of the abdomen. It performs several important jobs such as preventing infection, destroying damaged blood cells and storing red blood cells and platelets. Certain vitamins play a role in keeping the spleen functioning properly.
Vitamin B-12 is a vitamin that your body needs for neurological function, synthesis of DNA and red blood cell production. If you do not get enough vitamin B-12, your body makes abnormal red blood cells. This hurts the spleen because the spleen functions like a recycling center for red blood cells, according to the New York Times website. Aging and damaged red bloods cells stick in the spleen's sinusoids when blood circulates through the spleen. Sinusoids are like puddles in the spleen. The spleen filters the cells and returns healthy blood cells to the body, but the bad cells stay in the spleen so that iron and other useful components can be reused. If there are too many abnormal cells due to a vitamin B-12 deficiency, the spleen must work harder to process them.
Vitamin B-12 comes in supplement form and is in certain foods or can be added to foods. Meats and dairy products are high in B-12. Fortified cereals and nondairy milks provide the vitamin if you don't eat animal products. The recommended dietary allowance of B-12 for men and women 14 years of age and older is 2.4 micrograms, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
Iron is important for health because it works with protein to produce the hemoglobin in red blood cells, which carries oxygen throughout your body. Iron deficiency leads to anemia, symptoms of which include an enlarged spleen, as well as a swollen tongue, brittle nails and frequent infections. The amount of iron you need depends on your age and gender, according to Virgina Cooperative Extension. Adult females between 19 and 50 years of age require 18 milligrams of iron. Adult males age 19 and up and women age 51 and up require 8 milligrams of iron daily. Good sources of iron include red meat, fortified cereals and dark green leafy vegetables.
Eating vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron, which reduces the chances of you developing anemia and an enlarged spleen. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which means it is a nutrient that combats damage from free radicals. All fruits and vegetables have some vitamin C. Citrus fruits and juices are good sources. Sweet and white potatoes, cauliflower, leafy green vegetables and cabbage are some of the vegetables with the most vitamin C. Adult males over 18 should get at least 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily and women should consume a minimum of 75 milligrams, reports MedlinePlus.
Vitamin A is important for many functions in your body, including reproduction, cell division, bone growth and tooth development. However, to help the spleen it is important not to eat too much vitamin A. Too much vitamin A in your body may cause an enlarged spleen, as well as nausea, loss of hair and skin changes, among other symptoms. Dairy products, fish and liver all contain vitamin A. Fruits and vegetables have beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the United States, but too much vitamin A consumption is not. Adults should not get more than 3,000 micrograms of vitamin A per day, according to Colorado State University Extension Speak with your doctor about the levels of vitamin A in your diet.
- Patient.co.uk: The Spleen
- Office of Dietary Supplements National Institutes of Health: Vitamin B12
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: What Is Iron-Deficiency Anemia?
- Virginia Cooperative Extension; Iron: Build Strong Blood; May 2009
- Medline Plus: Vitamin C
- Colorado State University Extension; Fat-Soluble Vitamins; J. Anderson and L. Young; March 2002