A number of health conditions can cause the white blood cell count to plummet. Infections, leukemia, cancer treatments, anemia, medications, autoimmune disorders, and even allergies can all take aim at the immune system, weakening it and leaving the body more vulnerable to infections.
What is White Blood Cell Count?
White blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, and typically work as part of the immune system to fight off bacterial and viral infections. What’s considered a “normal” white blood cell count is usually between 4,500 to 10,000 white blood cells (WBCs) per microliter of blood. Those who have 3,500 or less may be considered to have a low WBC (also called “neutropenia”), but not always—it depends on the patient, the doctor, and the situation. A WBC of less than 1,000 is generally always considered too low and an indication of a serious infection risk.
Natural Ways to Boost WBC
Vitamin A, E, C and folic acid.
Increasing your intake of vitamin A will increase lymphocyte white blood cells that attack cancerous cells and foreign invaders that can cause infections. Vitamin C helps to synthesize white blood cells. Folic acid increases neutrophil white blood cells. If you do not get an adequate supply of folic acid in your diet your white blood cell count will lower.
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that selenium can help build up white blood cells. Some studies also indicate that selenium may help prevent some infections. Another study indicated that when the elderly take both zinc and selenium supplements, their immune systems responded better to the flu vaccine than those who took placebo.
Green tea is a great source of antioxidants that helps the body fight off infections. Drinking Green tea can help boost the immune system which leads the body to create more WBCs. A study indicates that green tea can replicate some viruses, which means that you may not lose as many the white blood cells to fighting the virus.
Eat more yogurt
People taking probiotics had stronger immune systems than those who didn’t take them. The probiotics also seemed to boost the WBC. A study conducted by German researchers and published in the Clinical Nutrition recruited nearly 500 healthy adults aged 18 to 67. All were given supplements, but only half received probiotic supplements. Over three months, those given the probiotics suffered fewer colds. In addition, a subgroup of over 100 participants who had their blood count measured showed higher white blood cell counts, indicating a stronger immune system.
Omega-3 fatty acid
Ingesting omega-3 fatty acids increases phagocyte activity. Phagocytes are the white blood cells that consume bacteria. Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel or salmon and flax oil are good sources of omega-3s.
A 2002 animal study found that rats fed garlic showed a significant increase in total white blood cell count. It also seems to promote the ability of white blood cells to fight off infections, and also stimulates other immune cells.
Zinc increases the aggressiveness of white blood cells that fight infection, allows white cells to produce more antibodies, helps the body produce more white blood cells and increases the number of cells that help the body fight off cancer. Consuming zing-fortified cereal, zinc supplements, crab, oysters, dark meat, beans, turkey or beef can increase your zinc intake.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits such as figs, melons, oranges or strawberries and vegetables like pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, beets and spinach are known to naturally increase your white blood cell count.