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White blood cells (WBCs), also referred to as 'leukocytes', form an important part of your immune system. They help by attacking the viruses, bacteria and germs, thereby keeping infections at bay. Originating in the bone marrow, these WBCs circulate through the blood stream. WBCs are classified into five major types - neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils.
What Does A Variation In WBC Count Indicate?
A WBC count refers to the number of WBCs in your body. A WBC count test is usually done as a part of complete blood count (CBC). The normal range of WBC count in a healthy adult is in the range of 4500 to 11,000 WBCs per microliter of blood. However, at times, your WBCs can fall out of this healthy range limits.
Generally, if you have a less than 3500 WBC count, it is considered as a low count. However, if your WBC count is less than 1000, your WBC count is considered to be at dangerously low levels, implying that you are at a high risk of developing an infection.
Symptoms Of A Low WBC Count:
Most of the time, a low WBC count can go unnoticed, unless you develop an infection, and your doctor asks for a routine blood test. But, some common symptoms associated with a low WBC count include fatigue, shortness of breath, weakness, and recurrent infections.
Ways To Improve WBC Count Naturally
A low WBC count could be due to various reasons, the most common one being when your body is fighting an infection. There are several ways to boost your low WBC count, so that you can improve your immunity and reduce the instances of catching recurrent infections. To do this, ensure that you consume the following foods/vitamins/minerals regularly and adequately.
1. Seeds And Grains (Vitamin E and Zinc)
Vitamin E is known to stimulate the production of 'killer cells'. It also improves production of B-cells that produce antibodies to kill the bacteria. When taken as a supplement, Vitamin E can actually reverse the decline in immune system response. Seeds and grains can give some of the Vitamin E that your body needs.
Zinc is also vital for the production of WBCs that fight infection. Pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, squash seeds, chickpeas, and garlic are just some of the foods that are high in zinc content. In case you do not get enough Vitamin E and Zinc from your daily diet, your physician may prescribe Vitamin E and Zinc supplements.
2. Green Tea (Antioxidants)
Green tea is packed with antioxidants, and is referred to as a 'detox tea'. It is believed to support the immune system well and helps your body fight against any infection. In fact, studies have shown that green tea encourages your body to produce more white blood cells.
3. Fruits And Vegetables (Vitamin C and Vitamin A)
Vitamin C improves your immune system considerably by improving the production of white blood cells and antibodies in the body that fight bacteria and viruses. You only need about 200 mg of this vitamin per day to do the trick. By including plenty of fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C in your diet, such as Orange, Guava, Green pepper, Papaya, Strawberries, etc., you can easily meet your daily dosage of vitamin C.
Vitamin A also helps your body create WBCs that attack foreign invaders and fight off infections. Carrots, Sweet Potato, Spinach, Broccoli, etc., are some of the foods that are rich in Vitamin A that you may consider taking regularly.
4. Fish, Flax Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in plenty in fatty fish (salmon and mackerel). Flax oil also has plenty of omega-3 fatty acids to improve your immune system. They also protect the body from damages caused due to the body's over-reaction to an infection. There have been studies to prove that children, who consumed just one teaspoon of flax oil daily, experienced fewer bouts of cold and respiratory infections.
5. Soy, Rice Beverages, Dairy Products (Vitamin B12)
While a low WBC count can be due to various reasons, it can also be caused by a vitamin deficiency. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, your body uses vitamin B-6 to promote the growth of white blood cells, while a B-12 deficiency may lead to low white blood cell count. Milk, milk products, cheese, shell fish, eggs, poultry, soy and rice-based beverages, are fortified with vitamin B-12.
If your diet is poor, you may be benefitted by taking a multivitamin supplement containing vitamin B-12 and folate, both of which are essential to produce WBCs in the body. But, always consult your doctor before you take any dietary supplements, so that you do not overdo the dosages and duration.