Red Blood Cells

Function of Red blood cells

The main function of red blood cells, or erythrocytes, is the transport of oxygen from the lungs to body tissues. Erythrocytes are tiny disc-shaped structures that are hollowed out on either side. Their small size allows them to squeeze through microscopic blood vessels called capillaries. They number about 5 million per cubic millimeter of blood; in the entire human body, there are about 25 trillion red blood cells.

Red blood cells are formed in the red bone marrow of certain bones, where they produce a substance called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein pigment that contains iron and that gives red blood cells their color. The hemoglobin in red blood cells combines with oxygen in the lungs, transporting that oxygen to the tissues throughout the body. It also carries carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs, where some of the carbon dioxide is exhaled. Each red blood cell lives only about four months. New red blood cells are constantly being produced in the bone marrow to take the place of old ones.

A single hemoglobin molecule is made of four identical sub-units. Each sub-unit has a heme component, aglobin chain and an iron atom bound to the heme section. Red blood cells are completely lacking in most other common cellular parts, such as a nucleus with DNA, or mitochondria.

Oxygen is able to bind to each of the iron atoms, meaning that a single hemoglobin molecule is able to carry up to four oxygen molecules at its maximum capacity. Interestingly, the structure of hemoglobin makes it such that the more oxygen that is bound to one of the sub-units, the more other oxygen molecules are attracted to the remaining iron atoms. This effect is important to the proper functioning of a red blood cell in oxygen transport.

The ability of oxygen to bind to hemoglobin is affected by many factors. The acidity of the blood (pH) is a primary factor, as is the temperature. Fetal blood has a different ability to bind oxygen (it holds on to the oxygen more tightly). Other chemicals such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and 2,3bisphosphoglycerate also effect the ability of hemoglobin to carry oxygen.

Secondary functions

When erythrocytes undergo shear stress in constricted vessels, they release ATP which causes the vessel walls to relax and dilate so as to promote normal blood flow.

When their hemoglobin molecules are deoxygenated, erythrocytes release S-nitrosothiols which also acts to dilate vessels, thus directing more blood to areas of the body depleted of oxygen.

It has been recently demonstrated that erythrocytes can also synthesize nitric oxide enzymatically, using L-arginine as substrate, just like endothelial cells. Exposure of erythrocytes to physiological levels of shear stress activates nitric oxide synthase and export of nitric oxide, which may contribute to the regulation of vascular tonus.

Erythrocytes can also produce hydrogen sulfide, a signalling gas that acts to relax vessel walls. It is believed that the cardioprotective effects of garlic are due to erythrocytes converting its sulfur compounds into hydrogen sulfide.

Erythrocytes also play a part in the body’s immune response: when lysed by pathogens such as bacteria, their hemoglobin releases free radicals which break down the pathogen’s cell wall and membrane, killing it.

Improving Red Blood Cells

It is vital to realise that kidney function affects the production of red blood cells and the protection of your kidneys’ health, will ensure the release of Erythropoetin for continuous healthy red blood cell production. Erythropoetin also regulates blood oxygen levels. Without Erythropoetin, there is no red blood cell production. Black Seed taken daily is known to maintain good kidney health.

Wheatgrass Juice is Leader of the Blood Building Juices

  • The green juice seems to help blood cell disorders of all kinds
  • The healthy energy juice is easily assimilated by the body and the wheatgrass vitamins and minerals are readily absorbed. The regular consumption of the green vegetable drink naturally increased red blood cells count, thus aiding with anemia.
  • The increased red blood cells count helps enrich the blood.
  • Wheatgrass juice reportedly dilates the blood pathways throughout the body and seems to naturally lower blood pressure.
  • Wheatgrass has an alkalyzing effect on the blood. Its abundance of alkaline minerals helps reduce over acidity in the blood.
  • It cleanses the blood, organs and gastrointestinal tract of debris.
  • The enzymes and amino acids found in this wheatgrass blood building juice can reportedly help protect us from carcinogens like no other single health food or medicine. It strengthens our cells, and through its body cleansing abilities helps clean the liver, blood, and chemically neutralizes environmental pollutants


Exercise regularly. Your body needs more oxygen when you exercise. Therefore, exercising on a regular basis sends messages to your body to increase red blood cell count. This allows your body to deliver a larger amount of oxygen during subsequent exercise sessions.

Make sure you consume proper levels of natural iron. Hemoglobin relies heavily on iron to help transport oxygen to your cells, so not having the proper iron levels decreases red blood cell count. Normal iron levels will vary according to age and sex.

Consume the proper levels of Vitamin B-12 and folate. These compounds are important in the production of red blood cells. Thus, if you want to increase red blood cell count, you won’t want to skimp on the fish and fortified breads. As with iron, proper vitamin B-12 and folate levels vary according to age and sex.

Being at higher altitudes also helps. Oxygen is less abundant at higher altitudes, so your body’s natural response is to increase the number of red blood cells. Doing this increases the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to your body’s cells.