Platelets & Vitamin B-12

Blood test.
Platelets are a component of blood. (Image: Tomasz Gierygowski/Hemera/Getty Images)

An essential nutrient, vitamin B-12 has a number of physiological roles in your body, including a role in nerve function and cell growth. Healthy vitamin B-12 levels also promote the health of your blood cells, including platelets. If you don't get enough vitamin B-12 in your diet, you might develop platelet disorders, including thrombocytopenia.

Platelets

A platelet is a type of blood cell that aids in blood clotting. When you have a cut or an abrasion, your platelets become activated and clump together to form a blood clot. Platelets are produced by the bone marrow and then circulate in the blood stream until activated. These cells are smaller than both white blood cells, which are cells of the immune system, and red blood cells.

Thrombocytopenia

Thrombocytopenia is a potentially serious medical condition in which there are too few platelets circulating in the blood. This low level can be caused either by a low rate of platelet production in the bone marrow or increased destruction of platelets either in the blood stream or in the spleen or liver. A deficiency in vitamin B-12 is one cause of low platelet production in the bone marrow. Therefore, a vitamin B-12 deficiency may cause a delay in the normal rate of blood clotting, which can lead to abnormal bleeding. A person with thrombocytopenia may notice that bruises develop more easily than normal or that scabs take longer to form over a cut or abrasion.

Dose

The Institute of Medicine recommends that men and women over the age of 18 years get at least 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 each day. This amount will prevent a vitamin B-12 deficiency and therefore help keep platelet levels normal. Additionally, doses of this vitamin up to 1 milligrams per day have no toxic side effects, according to Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute.

Sources

For your body to make enough healthy platelets, make sure that you are eating enough vitamin B-12 food sources or taking supplements. Bacteria are the sole producers of vitamin B-12, which is incorporated into animal food products like chicken, beef, fish and shellfish. Milk also contains some vitamin B-12 as well. To keep platelet production normal, vegetarians can get enough of this vitamin by eating fortified foods such as breakfast cereal or take supplements.

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