Platelets, a word that rolls a little bumpy off the tongue, refers to cells in our blood that are also known as thrombocytes. These colorless and tiny cells are responsible for clotting and preventing excessive bleeding when we hurt ourselves. Therefore, as you can imagine, maintaining an adequate platelet count is vital for our overall health. Low platelet levels can lead to a condition known as thrombocytopenia, which can result in easy bruising, bleeding, and other health complications.
Published in General Health · 9 min read · Nov 14, 2023
Published in General Health
9 min read · Nov 14, 2023
In this comprehensive guide, CARE will explore various factors that influence your platelet count and provide practical tips and strategies on how to boost your platelet count naturally and safely.
Before we delve into ways to increase your platelet count, let’s first take a little crash course in biology to freshen up your knowledge about platelets and the role they play in your body.
Platelets are small, colorless, and disk-shaped cell fragments found in your blood. They are produced in your bone marrow and have a lifespan of about 7 to 10 days. Thrombocytes have various functions in your body, especially your healing process. 
Therefore, it is important that your bone marrow produces enough of these little cell fragments.
But how many platelets are enough? What number is considered healthy?
A healthy platelet count typically ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood in healthy adults. If you have done a blood analysis and your platelet count is below 150,000, you should explore the underlying issue that causes your low platelet count. 
Low platelets can indicate mild thrombocytopenia, thrombocytopenia (a platelet disorder), or another underlying health issue. A low count in platelets can also result from various factors and circumstances, including medical conditions, medications, nutritional deficiencies, and lifestyle choices. 
Before we explain to you in detail the reasons why you might have insufficient numbers of thrombocytes in your blood, let’s take a closer look at the function of platelets in your body.
Platelets serve a vital function in your body by rapidly responding to vascular injuries and wounds. When you get injured, platelets rush to the site and initiate the clotting process to stop bleeding. The platelets do this by sticking together, creating a plug to seal the wound. But platelets are much more than just a plug. 
Platelets also play an essential role in the immune system by releasing proteins that help fight infection. While platelets are not traditional immune cells like lymphocytes or macrophages, emerging research has elucidated their immunomodulatory functions.
Platelets are equipped with a spectrum of immune-related molecules and receptors on their surfaces, making them responsive to various immune signals and capable of interacting with immune cells. For example, when your body encounters pathogens or foreign invaders, your platelets can be activated indirectly through interactions with immune cells or directly by pathogen-associated molecules. 
One pivotal role of platelets in the immune response is their ability to participate in the inflammatory cascade. Upon activation, platelets release a host of immune mediators, including cytokines, chemokines, and antimicrobial peptides. These substances not only attract immune cells to the site of infection or injury but also enhance the immune response by promoting phagocytosis, leukocyte recruitment, and antigen presentation. 
So, platelets are not only “plugs” responsible for blood clotting but also important players in the immune response. Interesting, right? But they can still do a little more.
In instances of vascular damage, platelets not only initiate clot formation but also contribute to tissue repair and regeneration by releasing growth factors like platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β). These growth factors aid in tissue healing and modulate the local immune milieu to favor tissue repair over excessive inflammation. 
In essence, platelets should not be underestimated because they are indispensable for your body's ability to maintain vascular integrity, respond to injuries, and facilitate the healing process, all of which are vital for your health and well-being.
So, how do you know that you have a low platelet count aside from the results of a blood analysis? Are there symptoms or signs that you can watch out for?
Yes, there are certain signs and symptoms that can be associated with a low thrombocyte count. A low platelet count, also known as thrombocytopenia, can manifest with a range of symptoms.
The severity and nature of these symptoms can vary depending on the extent of the platelet deficiency and the underlying cause of thrombocytopenia. One of the most noticeable signs of thrombocytopenia is an increased tendency to bruise easily. Even minor bumps or injuries can result in extensive and easily visible bruising. Additionally, tiny pinpoint-sized red or purple spots, known as petechiae, may appear on your skin, mucous membranes (such as inside the mouth), or the whites of the eyes. Petechiae occur due to bleeding from small blood vessels and are a characteristic indicator of low platelet count. 
If you have thrombocytopenia, you may also experience nosebleeds and gum bleeding, which can occur spontaneously or during routine activities like brushing, flossing, or eating. Women with low platelet counts may also notice heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, a condition known as menorrhagia. 
In some cases, thrombocytopenia can even lead to bleeding in the urinary or gastrointestinal tract, resulting in the presence of blood in your urine (hematuria) or stool (melena or hematochezia). Severe cases of thrombocytopenia can even lead to internal bleeding, which may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms of internal bleeding can include abdominal pain, chest pain, or the presence of blood in vomit or coughed-up mucus. 
Low platelet counts can also contribute to persistent or severe headaches, which may be indicative of bleeding within the brain. Additionally, thrombocytopenia is often associated with anemia, a condition characterized by a shortage of red blood cells, leading to fatigue and weakness. 
It is crucial to emphasize that while these symptoms may suggest thrombocytopenia, they can also be linked to other medical conditions and must be checked. Therefore, if you are experiencing these signs and symptoms, you should seek prompt medical evaluation and diagnosis by a healthcare professional.
But what are the causes of thrombocytopenia or a low platelet count?
Thrombocytopenia can have various underlying causes, including autoimmune disorders, medications, infections, and bone marrow disorders. The appropriate treatment approach depends on identifying and addressing the specific cause that is the underlying issue for your low count of thrombocytes. 
Early diagnosis and management are essential to prevent complications associated with low platelet counts. Becoming a member with CARE can help you monitor your health status and keep on top of any changes in your blood.
If you were able to identify the cause of your low platelet count, maybe with a health check-up with CARE, there are also some approaches on how to increase your blood platelets naturally.
We’ll get into those now.
In addressing the question of what foods can increase low platelets, it's paramount to emphasize the significance of a balanced and nutrient-rich diet as a complementary approach to managing thrombocytopenia. But rest assured, certain foods can bolster platelet production and your overall blood health. 
Iron-rich foods, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and dark leafy greens, are pivotal in maintaining optimal blood cell production. 
Vitamin B12, found in meat, fish, dairy products, and fortified cereals, is also essential for platelet formation. 
Additionally, folate (folic acid), or vitamin B9, is crucial for healthy blood cell production, and sources like citrus fruits, beans, and fortified cereals can support platelet health. 
Incorporating papaya or papaya leaf extract into your diet is also beneficial, as it contains an enzyme, papain, which can help increase platelet count while providing essential vitamins and nutrients. 
Pomegranate and cranberry juice, rich in antioxidants, have shown potential in boosting platelet production and are a flavorful addition to the platelet-supportive diet. 
Thus, an emphasis on these nutrient-dense foods and overall dietary balance can be a valuable component of a comprehensive strategy to increase your platelet counts naturally and safely.
There are also some foods you may want to avoid if you have a low platelet count and don’t want to risk lowering your count even further by consuming certain foods that can interfere with platelet function.
What foods should you avoid if you have a low platelet count?
Navigating your dietary intake when faced with a low platelet count or thrombocytopenia necessitates understanding foods that may exacerbate your condition or interfere with the platelet function in your body. 
To promote platelet health, you should exercise caution with certain foods:
Firstly, high alcohol consumption should be limited, as excessive alcohol intake can impair the production of blood cells, including platelets. 
Additionally, foods rich in vitamin K, such as leafy greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, should be consumed in moderation. Vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting, and excessive intake may interfere with platelet function. 
Salicylate-rich foods, including aspirin and certain fruits like berries and grapes, can have anti-platelet effects and should be monitored in your diet. 
Furthermore, while garlic and ginger are known to have potential health benefits and to be generally quite healthy, they possess mild anti-platelet properties and should be consumed judiciously. 
Ultimately, your goal should be to strike a balance between a nutritious diet and being mindful of specific foods that may affect platelet function adversely. Seeking guidance from a healthcare professional from CARE for tailored dietary recommendations based on individual health factors is always a good idea.
We have summed up the foods that can decrease your platelet count here:
Supplements can be valuable if you deal with a low platelet count, provided they are used judiciously.
Vitamin B12 supplements can be of advantage for you, especially if you have a deficiency, as this vitamin is essential for blood cell production, including platelets.
Folate supplements can also be beneficial in addressing low platelet counts associated with folate deficiencies. Iron supplements may also be advised for those with iron-deficiency anemia, a condition that can exacerbate thrombocytopenia. Women especially suffer from iron deficiency due to their monthly menstrual bleeding and might profit from an iron supplement. 
Herbal remedies like ashwagandha, turmeric, and ginseng are traditional and ancient supplements that possess platelet-boosting properties. But, please approach them with caution and only use them after consultation with a healthcare provider if you take any other medications or have underlying health conditions – herbal remedies can sometimes counteract medications or affect certain health conditions. 
Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil supplements, can lead to improved platelet function. Since omega-3s are also beneficial for heart health, they are a recommended supplement. 
As with any supplementation regimen, it is crucial you collaborate with a healthcare professional or seek medical advice. CARE is specialized to provide you with personalized guidance, monitoring your progress when considering supplements for addressing low platelet counts.
We specialize in doing regular and comprehensive health check-ups that help you keep on track with your health journey and can give you guidance on how to increase your low platelet count.
Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!