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red blood cells
Ralph Teller

Key Nutrients for Red Blood Cell Production

Ralph Teller, Ironman Triathlete

Sufficient production of red blood cells essential to peak athletic performance

As red blood cells are the vehicle that delivers oxygen to our cells, sufficient production of red blood cells is necessary for good health and essential for athletic peak performance.

Through lifestyle and good diet we can naturally increase our body's production of red blood cells.

The production of red blood cells begins in our kideys where the hormone Erythropoeitin (EPO) is produced. Erythropoeitin initiates red blood cell production in our bone marrow. It is this hormone (EPO) that controls the rate of red blood cell production.

For maintaining kidney health necessary for optimum natural production of EPO see Kidney Health and Red Blood Cell Production.

In addition to EPO, the other key ingrediants necessary for the formation of red blood cells are Iron, Vitamin B12, Folate (Vitamin B9) and Testosterone. Maintaining a diet rich in these nutrients is important for endurance athletes to maintain optimum level of red blood cells to support dedicated training and peak performance during racing.

A deficiency in either Iron, Vitamin B12 or Folate could cause an athlete to become slightly anemic, even chronically anemic.

Iron. Natural food sources of Iron include organic liver, chicken, beef, oysters, oatmeal, lentils, beans, and spincah. For a comprehensive list of animal and plant sources of Iron see Iron, Health and Peak Athletic Performance.

Vitamin B12. Natural food sources of Vitamin B12 include: Mollusks, clams, liver, beef, yogurt, milk, eggs, chicken. See List of Natural Food Sources of Vitamin B12.

Folate(Vitamin B9) . Natural food sources of Folate include: beef, liver, peas, pasta, spinach, asparagus, rice, broccoli, milk, egg noodles, avocado, peanuts, wheat germ, tomato juice, orange juice, whole wheat bread, eggs, cantaloupe, papaya, and banana. See List of Natural Food Sources of Folate.

Testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone. Cholesteral is the key initial building block for the production of testosterone. Protein enzymes, the Vitamin B's and zinc are also essential to the production of testosterone.

For a comprehensive list of natural sources of foods that help boost testosterone see A Diet to Boost Testosterone.

For natural ways to boost testosterone see How to Increase Testosterone Levels and Production Naturally.

Doping is illegal, dangerous to health

In the late 1980's, scientists developed an EPO like protein that, like EPO, stimulated red blood cell production. In developing this EPO like protein, these scientist were seeking to find a way to effect red blood cell production to people that were anemic (low blood cell count) due mostly to either (i) kidney disease or (ii) suppression of red blood cell production in the bone marrow caused by chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer.

Athletes began to use this EPO like protein to stimulate red blood cell production to improve athlete performance through increased capacity of the blood to carry oxygen. Of course, as the main red blood cell function is to carry oxygen to cells throughout the body, the more red blood cells contained in the blood the greater will be the blood's ability to transport oxygen. Use of this EPO like protein 'Doping' has been banned by most organized athletic authorities and the use of this protein by athletes is illegal. There are also health considerations against the use of this EPO like protein: 1. An increase in red blood cell count about normal levels increases blood viscosity or blood 'thickness' which heighten the risk of thrombotic events (strokes). 2. Regular use of this EPO like protein by athletes could disrupt the body's natural ability to produce EPO.

More about Ralph Teller. See Ralph's 1Vigor Log Calendar.

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