A low platelet count can interfere with normal blood clotting and affect your body's ability to heal damaged tissues, since these blood cells stop you from bleeding. Certain diseases and medications can decrease platelet count, leading to complications.
The Role of Blood Platelets
Blood platelets, or thrombocytes, are small cell fragments produced in the bone marrow. Their role is to help your body form blood clots. If you have an injury, these cells migrate to affected tissues and bind together to fix the damage and stop bleeding. At the same time, they release chemicals that cause other platelets to clump together.
These cells are about 20 percent smaller than red blood cells. Yet, they play a key role in overall health. Without them, your body wouldn't be able to heal from injury.
A platelet count below 150,000 or above 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood is considered abnormal. The lower this number, the higher your risk of bleeding. Too many platelets, on the other hand, may lead to the formation of blood clots.
Several factors can affect your platelet count 3. In fact, more than 100 food ingredients, vitamin components and drug compounds influence this number, according to a review published in the Journal of Health Specialties in April 2015 172021.
Aspirin, for example, has antiplatelet effects, preventing these cells from sticking together. That's why this medication is typically prescribed to those with blood clotting disorders. If you already have a low platelet count, aspirin may cause or increase bleeding. The same goes for ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesic medications.
Other factors that interfere with blood platelets have nothing to do with your diet or the drugs you use. Major depression, exercise and smoking can all affect platelet count, as noted in the Journal of Health Specialties.
Read more: Exercise & Low Platelet Count
What Is Thrombocytopenia?
Anemia & Vitamin K
If you have too few platelets, your doctor will likely mention "thrombocytopenia," the scientific term for low platelet count 7822. As the Canadian Cancer Society points out, this health condition occurs when the bone marrow fails to produce enough platelets 522. It may be also due to an enlarged spleen, cancer, kidney disease, immune system disorders and certain medications.
Most individuals have no symptoms until their platelet count reaches a critical point. When that happens, they may experience unusual gum or nose bleeding, slow wound healing, blurred vision and altered consciousness. Women may notice heavy vaginal bleeding. Other signs of a low platelet count may include 578:
- Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Blood in the urine or stools
- Fatigue and low energy
- Small red spots under the skin
- Vomiting blood
- Persistent headache
If bleeding persists, seek emergency care. This condition may lead to severe internal bleeding and even death.
According to MedlinePlus, certain dietary factors, such as folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies, can affect the bone marrow's ability to make platelets 10151721. Therefore, eating foods rich in these nutrients may help keep your bone marrow healthy and increase platelet count.
Your diet should also include foods high in vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K and iron 1721. These nutrients support blood clotting and immune function, which in turn, may lead to higher platelet concentrations.
Consume Folate-Rich Foods
As mentioned, thrombocytopenia may result from folate deficiency 7810. Also known as vitamin B9, this nutrient promotes the formation of red blood cells and helps maintain cell function 101721. Some foods, such as:
Fill Up on Vitamin B12
B12 Injections Side Effects
Vitamin B12 levels and platelet count are strongly connected 1721. In a June 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Investigations, subjects with vitamin B12 deficiency had a significantly lower red cell distribution width-platelet ratio (RPR) than those receiving vitamin B12 treatment 141721.
Along with folate, this nutrient supports red blood cell formation 10151721. Severe deficiencies may result in low platelet count syndrome, red blood cell breakdown and other hematologic abnormalities. Anemia may occur, as well.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a minimum daily intake of 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day for adults, 2.6 micrograms per day for pregnant women and 2.8 micrograms daily during breastfeeding 1721.
Even if you have a normal platelet count, you still need vitamin B12 in your diet 1721. Low levels of this nutrient may cause tiredness, depression, poor appetite and memory problems, as the NIH points out. In the long run, a vitamin B12 deficiency may damage the nervous system 1721.
Read more: The Best Time to Take Vitamin B-12
Eat Your Veggies
This fat-soluble vitamin helps your body form blood clots 1721. The problem is that only 30 to 40 percent of it is stored in your system, as the NIH points out. About 40 to 50 percent is excreted in the stool and another 20 percent in the urine. Additionally, certain medications, such as:
- fat blockers
- may reduce vitamin K absorption
- which can further increase the risk of deficiencies 1721
A low platelet count can interfere with normal blood clotting and affect your body's ability to heal damaged tissues, since these blood cells stop you from bleeding. Certain diseases and medications can decrease platelet count, leading to complications. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be able to naturally increase your platelet count. Some foods, especially those rich in iron, folate and vitamin K, can help1721. Their role is to help your body form blood clots. Major depression, exercise and smoking can all affect platelet count, as noted in the Journal of Health Specialties. Read more: Exercise & Low Platelet Count If you have too few platelets, your doctor will likely mention "thrombocytopenia," the scientific term for low platelet count"')822 'Diagnosis'"'). Most individuals have no symptoms until their platelet count reaches a critical point. According to MedlinePlus, certain dietary factors, such as folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies, can affect the bone marrow's ability to make platelets151721. Your diet should also include foods high in vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K and iron21. In the long run, a vitamin B12 deficiency may damage the nervous system21. Read more: The Best Time to Take Vitamin B-12) This fat-soluble vitamin helps your body form blood clots21.
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- University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester: "What Are Platelets?"
- University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center: "Platelets"
- Journal of Health Specialties: "Factors Related to Blood Donors That May Affect the Quality of Platelet Concentrates"
- NCBI: "Recovery Time of Platelet Function After Aspirin Withdrawal"
- Canadian Cancer Society: "Low Platelet Count 'Symptoms and Causes'"
- Stanford Children's Health: "What Are Platelets?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Thrombocytopenia (Low Platelet Count)"
- MedlinePlus: "Thrombocytopenia"
- Mayo Clinic: "Folate (Folic Acid)"
- NIH: "Folate"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Pan Fried Beef Liver"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Lentils (Cooked)"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) (Cooked)"
- Journal of Clinical and Experimental Investigations: "The Relationship Between Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Red Cell Distribution Width Platelet Ratio"
- American Association for Clinical Chemistry: "Vitamin B12 and Folate Deficiencies"
- Case Reports in Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Severe Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Pregnancy Mimicking HELLP Syndrome"
- NIH: "Vitamin B12"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can Be Sneaky, Harmful"
- NCBI: "Vitamin K: The Effect on Health Beyond Coagulation – an Overview"
- NIH: "Vitamin K - Food Sources"
- NIH: "Vitamin K"
- Mayo Clinic: "Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) 'Diagnosis'"