Platelet Health and Count with Nutrition and Supplements  

Platelets, or in other words, thrombocytes, are colorless blood cells that help blood aggregate or clot together to form plugs in injuries to stop bleeding.

Platelets are called by this name because, under a microscope, they look like small plates in their non-active form. A platelet becomes active whenever it receives a signal that there is an injury or damage in the body. Then the platelet travels to the area of injury or damage and becomes active. When the platelet becomes active, it grows long tentacles that connect with the place of injury to make a plug stopping the bleeding.

A healthy platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. 

Some disorders, such as anemia and cancer, can cause platelet levels to drop. Having less than 150,000 platelets per microliter of blood is known as thrombocytopenia, a deficiency of platelets in the blood. Other disorders cause decreased production of platelets. These often include viral infections, drugs, radiation therapy, and even heavy alcohol consumption. 

Other conditions can lead to an increased number of over 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. This condition is called thrombocytosis

High blood platelet numbers play a role in heart disease through plaque buildup in the arteries and the development of acute clotting events. 

You can check your platelet numbers with a routine blood test called a complete blood count which will give you results in a few hours.

Fortunately, there are natural ways to balance platelet count and promote healthy platelet function. 

For thrombocytopenia (a platelet deficiency), the recommendations include:

Folate-rich foods and folic acid

Folate deficiency is one of the leading causes of megaloblastic anemia, a condition characterized by lowered numbers of red blood cells and decreased production of platelets by the bone marrow. [1-5].

The recommended dietary intake for adults for folic acid is 400 mcg a day to maintain healthy folic acid levels. [6] Foods rich in folate and folic acid are spinach, Brussel sprouts, black-eyed peas, fresh fruits, sunflower seeds, whole grains, and asparagus.

Foods to avoid

Foods that increase bleeding include ginkgo, ginseng, green tea, saw palmetto, St John’s wort, and fish oil. These should be taken very sparingly, if at all in the diet. Garlic can be used in cooking but should not be taken as a supplement, as this will also lead to lowered platelet aggregation. 

Limit alcohol intake

Alcohol contains chemicals that inhibit platelet function and count. Platelet count is reduced in people with alcohol usage disorders. [7] Not only does heavy alcohol consumption lead to defective platelet formation, but it also decreases platelet lifespan. Several studies have also shown that the effects of alcohol consumption on platelets are immediate, impacting the drinker 10 to 20 minutes after ingestion.

Adequate vitamin C-rich fruit intake

Vitamin C promotes iron absorption, which increases the platelet count. In a study on the impact of vitamin C on platelet function, researchers observed that vitamin C intake is critical for platelet function.[8] In such cases, I recommend consuming vitamin C-rich foods such as berries, citrus fruits, bell peppers, all types of potatoes, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. Avoid taking vitamin C supplements if you suffer from low platelet counts. I will explain why in the next part.

Melatonin supplements

Melatonin is a hormone that the body naturally produces. Melatonin supplements are most recognized as a sleep aid; however, melatonin also may help increase platelet count and inhibit thrombocytopenia. In a study on people with liver disease, researchers found that melatonin supplementation inhibited thrombocytopenia in people with liver disease and significantly increased platelet count. [9] But in heart disease, melatonin was also found to suppress platelet activation. [10]

Therefore, I recommend consuming melatonin-rich foods as a natural source of melatonin and avoiding supplementation. Melatonin-rich foods support health in any case and include tart cherries, oats, pistachios, brown rice, goji berries, and mushrooms.

Papaya leaf extract

Papaya leaf extract has demonstrated pharmacological potential in increasing platelet countPapaya leaves contain a unique phytochemical compound that increases platelet numbers. In a study on the efficacy of papaya leaf extract on increasing platelet count, researchers concluded that papaya leaf extract helped increase platelet count in people with dengue fever. [11] Dengue fever is associated with reduced platelet numbers in the blood, which increases the risk of bleeding; if left untreated, dengue is potentially fatal. In animal models, papaya leaf extract also helps with immune thrombocytopenic purpura, a bleeding disorder with low platelet counts where it significantly increased platelet and red blood cell counts. [12-14] 

Therefore, papaya leaf extract can be recommended as a natural medicine to boost platelet formation in the bone marrow (thrombopoiesis) in humans and animals.

Papaya leaf extract comes in capsule or syrup supplements, which you can take before meals. Or you may eat fresh papaya or use papaya leaves to make a homemade medicine by washing, then drying, then cutting and placing the leaves in a saucepan with water. Boil uncovered for 30 minutes and bottle the leftover liquid. Add a teaspoon to your drinks 3-4 times a week.

For thrombocytosis, when there are high platelet numbers in the blood, here are my recommendations:

Thrombosis (clotting of the blood) is often responsible for disease and death from circulatory diseases because it leads to heart attack and stroke. Although platelet adhesion, activation, and aggregation play central roles in stopping blood flow when there is injury or damage, the same process may also cause local clotting and blood vessel blockage at the site of ruptured plaque lesions in arteries. Therefore, anti-platelet aggregating foods are crucial. If you are currently not treated with anti-platelet medications often associated with various side effects, you can help your condition naturally. However, conventional and natural therapies should not be combined as this could lead to seriously lowered platelet aggregation and easy bleeding.

Here are natural anti-platelet foods:

Omega 3 Fatty Acids 

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease blood platelet aggregation. [15-17] One study showed that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) was significantly more effective in reducing blood platelet aggregation in men, while in females, DHA inhibited aggregation, but EPA did not. 

I recommend taking a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid supplement such as Algal oil that contains both plant-based DHA and EPA for maximum benefit with the least potential harm as may be caused with omega-3 fatty acid fish oil supplementation. Fish oils are in their readily available form that the body may immediately use, and so this may come in a dose that is higher than necessary. With algae, this does not happen as the body produces the readily available form only when, and in the amount, that it is needed. I recommend algal oil supplements four times a week.

Berry intake

The consumption of berries, including Aronia berries, cranberries, sea buckthorn berries, and grapes and their seeds, improve health [18-19] and are inversely associated with atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries. [20-22] But not only fresh berries. Berry supplements have high concentrations of phenolic compounds with anti-platelet, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities. [23] Berries and berry supplements inhibit blood platelet aggregation leading to reduced clot formation. [24-29]

I recommend increasing berry intake in all forms. If you do not consume berries regularly, a berry supplement will benefit you.

High Dose Vitamin C Supplements

Studies show that high doses of vitamin C have the opposite effect from consuming fruits rich in vitamin C. The high-dose vitamin C supplementation actually causes a thinning of the blood. A study showed that although fatty meals enhance platelet adhesiveness and aggregation, consuming one gram of vitamin C together with the fatty meal every day prevented this. The study showed that vitamin C supplementation for ten days at one gram every 8 hours significantly decreased platelet adhesiveness and aggregation. This study shows that vitamin C may help prevent chronic plaque buildup in the arteries. [30-31] If you suffer from blocked arteries, supplementation with one gram of vitamin C along with a fatty meal may be crucial for health. Avoiding high fatty meals is also important—more about this in my article on heart disease.

In any case, these dietary supplements that reduce platelet aggregation (omega-3 fatty acids, berry, and high dose vitamin C) should not be taken before surgery as they may cause excessive bleeding. [32]

To conclude

Platelet numbers and functions are intertwined with your diet. To heal and support any platelet disorder, you may wish to consider these natural methods, which are also beneficial for health in general. 

All references are found at this link: I keep this list updated. 

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