Platelets or thrombocytes is one of the blood components that help prevent excessive bleeding and allow quick healing of injured area by forming blood clots. Hence, it is essential to have a high and stable platelet count in your body. A platelet count refers to the number of platelets found in the blood and it normally ranges from 1,50,000 to 3,50,000.
However, people having dengue fever show a decline in their platelet count at a rapid pace and therefore suffer from a condition called thrombocytopenia (a low blood count). This results in symptoms like easy skin bruising, fatigue, dark, red skin spots, headaches (post minor injuries), and bleeding gums or nose bleeding which may be spontaneous or excessive.
If the platelet count is not increased in the initial stage of dengue fever, a significant reduction of the platelets level can be life-threatening for such patients. The production of platelets can be increased by keeping the bone marrow healthy which is possible by providing the body with sufficient proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Diet and supplements can easily and effectively work in case of mild thrombocytopenia. But, serious dengue patients who have severely low platelet count would need medical treatment to avoid complications.
What foods items to eat to increase the platelet count?
Eating well is essential for recovery and regaining your overall health. Including certain foods and supplements in your daily diet can help naturally increase the levels of platelets in your body. This includes:
Foods rich in Vitamins B-12, C, D, and K or vitamin supplements
- Vitamin B-12-rich Foods: Vitamin B12 is necessary for RBCs formation but its low level contributes to thrombocytopenia. It is abundantly found in animal-based products including eggs, beef/beef liver, and fish (such as salmon, tuna, clams, and trout). Some dairy products also have Vitamin B-12. If you are vegan or vegetarian, include fortified cereals, fortified dairy alternatives like soy milk or almond, or Vitamin B-12 supplements.
- Vitamin C-rich Foods: Vitamin C helps build immunity, allows correct functioning of the platelets, and improves the body’s ability to absorb iron which is also important for platelets production. It is present in citrus fruits like oranges; kiwi, grape, and strawberries, and in vegetables like broccoli, red and green bell papers, and Brussels sprouts.
- Vitamin D-rich Foods: Vitamin D is essential for the functioning of the bone marrow cells that synthesize platelets and other blood cells. Its major source is sunlight. Foods that contain Vitamin D include fish liver oils, eggs, fortified milk and yogurt, and fatty fish (like tuna, mackerel, and salmon). If you are strictly vegetarian, you can get Vitamin D from fortified orange juice, fortified breakfast cereals, soy yogurt/milk, UV-exposed mushrooms, and Vitamin D supplements.
- Vitamin K-rich Foods: Vitamin K helps in blood clotting. Its food sources include broccoli, pumpkin, soybeans or its oil, and leafy vegetables like kale, turnip greens, spinach, and collards.
Food with High Iron Content or Iron Supplements
Iron is vital for the production of healthy levels of platelets. It is found in foods such as beef liver, dark chocolate, lentils, oysters, white and kidney beans, tofu, and fortified breakfast cereals.
Folate or Folic-acid Rich Foods or Vitamin B Supplements
Folate is the synthetic form of folic acid, both of which are necessary for healthy platelets. The foods that comprise them include black-eyed peas, rice, yeast, spinach, Brussels spots, beef liver, fortified dairy alternatives, and breakfast cereals.
What Food Items to Avoid?
The foods or drinks that are known to decrease platelet count include:
- Cranberry juice
- Aspartame (an artificial sweetener)
- Quinine (found in tonic water or bitter lemon)
- Cow’s milk
- Tahini (paste of sesame seeds).
Certain Supplements to Maintain a Normal Platelet Count
- Papaya leaf extract- It is available in form of pills at the drug store.
- Chlorophyll- It is the green-colored pigment present in the plants and green algae. Chlorella can be used supplement to increase platelet count.
- Melatonin- It is a hormone that is produced to regulate the internal clock of the body. In health stores, it can be available in the form of topical, liquid, or tablets.
- Bovine colostrum- It is the first substance produced by a nursing cow. It contains proteins that help activate platelets and immune responses.
Proper Protection & Detection
Dengue is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The best way to prevent yourself from disease is to protect yourself from mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent, wearing proper clothing, and taking the help of a doctor.
Get yourself detected if you are symptoms like headache, muscle pain, painful joints, headache, itchy eyes, skin rashes, and weakness as this can be a sign of dengue.