Improving Blood Counts
This website and its pages were designed for people who are looking for solutions to the many problems/side effects that may appear as a result of treatment. As the reader, you should print out this page and bring it to your doctor for consultation. This is one of the many means of stacking the cards in your favor and this exact formula of stacking the cards is the main vehicle that helped me through two-and-a half years of leukemia treatment for my daughter. On the other hand, if you are one of those people who tends to place blame on others, then this site is not for you. Going through a serious medical condition requires; fortitude, responsibility for every aspect of care, using every avenue possible to improve quality of life, health and disposition of the patient, while coordinating all of this with your healthcare team. I have tried to put together workable tools for a person to use with judgement and responsibility.
During my daughter’s first year of treatment for leukemia, (a blood cancer) I was so overwhelmed by treatment that it never dawned on me that I could possibly help her blood counts through dietary changes. Her blood counts actually ruled our lives because if they were low she could not go anywhere. If they were okay then there was more freedom. The purpose of this article is to give you tips on how to help your blood counts.
Anemia (pronounced /əˈniːmiə/, also spelled anaemia and anæmia; from Ancient Greek ἀναιμία anaimia, meaning lack of blood) is a decrease in normal number of red blood cells (RBCs) or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood.
Hemoglobin definition: A red protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood
Iron, a mineral, functions primarily as a carrier of oxygen in the body. Iron also aids in immune function, cognitive development, temperature regulation, energy metabolism, and work performance. About 90% of the iron in our body is conserved and reused every day; the rest is excreted. 
Anemia caused by iron deficiency is the most common form of anemia in the world. 50% of pregnant women have iron deficiency anemia.
Iron is a key part of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in the blood. Your body normally gets iron through diet and by recycling iron from old red blood cells. Without iron, the blood cannot carry oxygen effectively. Oxygen is needed for every cell in the body to function normally.
Gastrointestinal bleeding in men and post menopausal women is due to: certain types of cancer such as colon, stomach and esophageal cancers. Long term use of aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) and Peptic ulcer disease.
Patients with Celiac disease, Chrohn’s disease and Gastric bypass surgery may have trouble absorbing iron from their diet. Taking antacids regularly can also cause trouble absorbing iron from foods. 
Iron deficiency anemia symptoms may include:
Additional Symptoms That May Appear In Anemia.
McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois includes additional anemia symptoms as: headaches, extreme fatigue, fingernails that become thin brittle and white, tongue may become sore, smooth and reddened. A strong desire to eat nonfoods such as ice, paint or dirt (a condition called Pica). Low blood pressure with position change from sitting to standing up.
There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells. Heme iron is found in animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin, such as red meats, fish, and poultry. Iron in plant foods such as lentils and beans is arranged in a chemical structure called nonheme iron . This is the form of iron added to iron-enriched and iron-fortified foods. Heme iron is absorbed better than nonheme iron, but most dietary iron is nonheme iron . A variety of heme and nonheme sources of iron are listed in Tables 1 and 2.
Table 1: Selected Food Sources of Heme Iron (from hemoglobin). 
Chicken liver, cooked, 12.8 mg in 3½ ounces. Oysters, breaded and fried, 4.5 mg in 6 pieces. Beef, chuck, lean, braised, 3.2 mg in 3 ounces. Clams, breaded, fried, 3.0 mg in ¾ cup. Beef, tenderloin, roasted, 3.0 mg in 3 ounces. Turkey, dark meat, roasted, 2.3 mg in 3½ ounces. Beef, eye of round, roasted, has 2.2 mg in 3 ounces. Turkey, light meat, roasted, contains 1.6 mg in 3½ ounces. Chicken, leg, meat only, roasted, has 1.3 mg in 3½ ounces. Tuna, fresh bluefin, cooked, dry heat, has 1.1 mg in 3 ounces. (It is not recommended to eat more than one serving of tuna per week due to mercury content.) Chicken, breast, roasted, has 1.1 mg in 3 ounces. Halibut, cooked, dry heat, has 0.9 mg in 3 ounces. Crab, blue crab, cooked, moist heat, has 0.8 mg per 3 ounces. Pork loin, broiled, has 0.8 mg in 3 ounces. Tuna, white, canned in water, has 0.8 mg in 3 ounces. Shrimp, mixed species, cooked, in moist heat, has 0.7 mg in 4 large shrimps.
Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Nonheme Iron (derived from plants) 
Ready-to-eat cereal, 100% iron fortified, 18.0 mg per ¾ cup serving. Oatmeal, instant, fortified, prepared with water, 10.0 mg per 1 cup serving. Soybeans, mature, boiled, has 8.8 mg per 1 cup serving. Lentils, boiled, has 6.6 mg per 1 cup. Beans, kidney, mature, boiled, contains 5.2 mg per 1 cup serving. Beans, lima, large, mature, boiled, has 4.5 mg per 1 cup. Beans, navy, mature, boiled, contains 4.5 mg per 1 cup. Ready-to-eat cereal, 25% iron fortified, has 4.5 mg per ¾ cup. Beans, black, mature, boiled, has 3.6 mg per 1 cup. Beans, pinto, mature, boiled, contains 3.6 mg per 1 cup. Molasses, blackstrap, 3.5 mg per 1 tablespoon. Tofu, raw, firm, has 3.5 mg per ½ cup serving. Spinach, boiled, drained, has 3.5 mg per 1/2 cup. Spinach, canned, drained solids has 2.5 mg per ½ cup. Black-eyed peas (cowpeas), boiled, has 1.8 mg per 1 cup. Spinach, frozen, chopped, boiled 1.9 mg per ½ cup serving. Grits, white, enriched, quick,prepared with water, has 1.5 mg per 1 cup serving. Raisins, seedless, packed, 1.5 mg per ½ cup. Whole wheat bread, has 0.9 mg per slice. White bread, enriched, has 0.9 mg per 1 slice.
For more detailed information on this subject go to National Institutes of Health
Here is an interesting quote. That “beef liver feeding in severe anemia is associated with a maximal regeneration of hemoglobin and red cells”.  This just substantiates why liver, liverwurst and chicken liver have such a high iron content.
Effect of vitamin and mineral supplements
There is an observed correlation between serum retinol and hemoglobin levels. Women with a low serum retinol (another name for vitamin A) concentration are more likely to be iron-deficient and anemic, compared to those with normal to high levels of retinol. While vitamin A deficiency has an adverse effect on hemoglobin synthesis, even a slight increase in vitamin A intake can lead to a significant rise in hemoglobin levels. However, vitamin A is less effective in alleviating severe iron-deficiency anemia. Low levels of iron in the body cannot be relieved by vitamin A supplementation alone. Additionally, a low ascorbic acid stores in the body causes an impairment in the release of stored iron in the reticuloendothelial cells. Copper is necessary for iron uptake, and a copper deficiency can result in iron deficiency. Copper deficiency can sometimes be caused by excessive zinc or vitamin C supplementation.
Recommendations for Iron Intake:
According to USDA recommendations, the allowances of dietary iron intake are as follows:
Iron allowance for Males and females
Younger than 6 months: 6 mg
6 months to 1 year: 10 mg
1 to10 years: 10 mg
11 to 18 years: 12 mg
19 and older: 10 mg
11 to 50: 15 mg
51 and older: 10 mg
Pregnant: 30 mg
Lactating: 15 mg
With these charts you can refer to the daily recommendations of iron and supplement your iron through the foods that you eat. It is pretty simple to implement several of the recommended foods. Remember that iron needs to be replaced daily.
My Own Experience With Anemia
Twenty-five years ago I had severe anemia following surgery. Standard Iron supplements caused me terrible constipation. One can also have toxicity issues with iron supplements. A book I read recommended Liverwurst and said that the iron deficiency could be corrected within four weeks of daily consumption of liverwurst. I followed the instructions as I love liverwurst and sure enough no more anemia.
Because of toxins that animals now ingests and the fact that the liver is the organ of the body, which filters toxins I would only recommend liverwurst or liver from animals that are raised organically and eat grass. Sounds ridiculous but grains, pesticides and hormones are not ingredients conducive to good health. Therefore one would have to order organic meats only, when eating meat and organs. GrassLand Beef is a company that I highly recommend. Their liverwurst is expensive but worth every cent. Here is the link http://www.grasslandbeef.com/Detail.bok?no=821
Kayla’s lunches now include iron rich foods to help maintain her good blood counts. Since she finished her chemotherapy in May her counts have remained pretty steady. Her platelets have been a bit under normal and have not changed with the dietary changes we implemented. This could be a lifelong condition from having had leukemia. Unfortunately she hates the liverwurst so my husband and I are eating it.
Below is a picture of our liverwurst shipment. No other liverwurst on the market compares to grass fed organic meat. The taste is incomparable.
When a patient is going through arduous medical treatment every measure possible should be taken to maintain health. Fresh foods, raw foods, organic meats and eggs should be consumed daily. These actions are necessary for the body to withstand the stresses of treatment while also aiding in repair. All processed foods should be eliminated from the diet. When I use the word processed I mean food that is changed from its natural form. Healthy stews with lots of vegetables are a source of many nutrients that do not demand lots of hard work to digest.
If you have low blood counts during treatment eating iron rich foods cannot hurt you (unless allergic). After treatment this regiment can improve fatigue and blood counts. In the least it is worth trying for several months to see if these foods help you and your blood counts. Check with your doctor for approval.
1.MedicineNet.com –> Definition of Anemia Last Editorial Review: 10/26/2010
2. merriam-webster dictionary –> anemia Retrieved on October 26, 2010
3. Ohio State University Fact Sheet Iron HYG-5559-05 Internet October 2010. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5559.html
4. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000584.htm MedLine Plus A Service pf the US National Library of Medicine. NIH National Institutes of Health. Article titled Iron Deficiency Anemia. Data used October 26th, 2010
5. eMedicineHealth > anemia article Author: Saimak T. Nabili, MD, MPH. Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD. Last Editorial Review: 12/9/2008. Retrieved on 26 October 2010
6. Hurrell RF. Preventing iron deficiency through food fortification. Nutr Rev 1997;55:210-22. [PubMed abstract]
7. Miret S, Simpson RJ, McKie AT. Physiology and molecular biology of dietary iron absorption. Annu Rev Nutr 2003;23:283-301.
8. National Institutes of Health Nutritional, Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron
10. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2003. USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp.
11.THE IRON CONTENT OF MEATS.* BY E. B. FORBES AND RAYMOND W. SWIFT. (From the Institute of Animal Nutrition of the Pennsylvania State College, State College.) (Received for publication, December 26, 1925.) Internet PDF Retrieved 26 October 2010