If you aren’t getting enough key nutrients through your diet, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking supplements. Certain supplements can help increase your RBC production or support related processes in your body.
Some supplements can interact with medications that you may be taking, so be sure to get your doctor’s approval before adding them to your regimen.
Never take more than the recommended dosage found on the product’s label.
Supplements your doctor may suggest include:
Iron: Iron deficiency commonly causes low RBC production. Women need about 18 milligrams (mg) per day, whereas men only need 8 mg per day.
Vitamin C: This vitamin may help your body better absorb iron. The average adult needs about 500 mg per day.
Copper: There may also be a link between low RBC production and copper deficiency. Women need 18 mg per day, and men need 8 mg per day. However, your daily copper requirement depends on a variety of factors, including sex, age, and body weight. Be sure to consult your doctor or a dietitian to understand how much you need.
Vitamin A (retinol): Women need 700 micrograms (mcg) per day. For men, the recommendation increases to 900 mcg.
Vitamin B-12: Most people who are 14 years and older need 2.4 mcg of this vitamin per day. If you’re pregnant, the recommended dosage raises to 2.6 mcg. If you’re breastfeeding, it jumps to 2.8 mcg.
Vitamin B-9 (folic acid): The average person needs between 100 and 250 mcg per day. If you regularly menstruate, it’s recommended that you take 400 mcg. Women who are pregnant need 600 mcg per day.
Vitamin B-6: Women need about 1.5 mg of this nutrient each day, and men need about 1.7 mg.
Vitamin E: The average adult needs about 15 mg per day.
Regular exercise is also beneficial. In addition to promoting overall wellness, exercise is key to RBC production. Vigorous exercise causes your body to need more oxygen. When you need more oxygen, your brain signals your body to create more RBCs.
Your best bets for vigorous workouts include:
In some cases, changes in diet or lifestyle alone aren’t enough alone to increase your RBC count to healthy levels. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following:
Medication to treat an underlying condition: If your RBC deficiency is caused by an underlying condition, such as hemorrhaging or a genetic disorder, medication may be necessary. Treating the underlying condition may help your RBC count return to normal.
Medication to stimulate RBC production: A hormone called erythropoietin is produced in the kidneys and liver and stimulates the bone marrow to produce RBCs. Erythropoietin can be used as a treatment for some forms of anemia. This treatment may be prescribed for anemia caused by kidney disease, chemotherapy, cancer, and other factors.
Blood transfusion: If medications aren’t working, your doctor may recommend a blood transfusion to boost your RBCs.
Red blood cells are important to your body. If your doctor suspects your red blood cell count is off, they will order a complete RBC count to check your levels. If you’re diagnosed with a low count, your doctor may recommend a combination of dietary changes, daily supplements, and medications to return it to normal.
Normal RBC counts range from 4.7 to 6.1 million cells per microliter (mcL) for men and 4.2 to 5.4 million cells per mcL for women. These ranges can vary depending on the testing lab. They also may vary from person to person based on many factors.
Higher than normal RBCs may be caused by cigarette smoking, heart problems, and dehydration. They can also be caused by problems with your kidneys, bone marrow, or breathing. Living in a high altitude may also increase your RBC count.
Lower than normal numbers of RBCs may occur with bleeding, bone marrow failure, malnutrition, kidney disease, overhydration, or pregnancy. Several drugs affect the level of RBCs and may make it higher or lower than normal.