Importance of Platelets in the Body
Platelets, also known as thrombocytes, are plate shaped, colorless blood cells formed in the bone marrow. The average lifespan of a platelet is usually five to nine days. Along with calcium, vitamin K, and a protein called fibrinogen, platelets have a life saving function of forming clots to stop bleeding from a wound or a cut.
Platelets contain proteins on their surface that allow them to stick to each other and stick to the breaks in the blood vessel wall. Being the smallest and lightest of the blood cells, they are pushed out to the walls of the blood vessels. When bleeding occurs suddenly, the platelets rush to the wound, stick to each other and the blood vessel, and envelop it to block the blood flow and form a temporary blood clot. However, as they come into contact with air, the plate-shaped platelets break into irregular shapes. They react with fibrinogen to form fibrin. The fibrin forms a web-like mesh that traps the blood cells within it and form a clot.
Thus, a blood clot essentially consists of a clump of platelets enmeshed in a network of fibrin molecules. If not for the platelets, an individual can bleed to death from a simple cut or a wound.
You really need to worry if your platelet count goes down. Conditions such as anemia, heavy menstrual flow, leukemia, lymphoma, HIV infection, dengue, some forms of cirrhosis, and enlargement of spleen among others can cause a low platelet count.
The normal platelet count (number of platelets in the bloodstream) ranges from 150,000 to 350,000 platelets per micro-liter of blood. Low platelet count, say around 20,000, may cause massive bleeding and even death. People with a platelet count of less than 30,000 are generally hospitalized for blood transfusion. Others can build up their platelets with medicines. But, once the medication stops, the platelet count drops again. Moreover, some medicines are not recommended for pregnant women or children. So, what can be the solution?
Are there foods that help to build platelets? The answer is – yes. As long as you are over the 40,000 to 60,000 level, eating the right food and eliminating the ‘wrong’ foods can help you increase your platelet count.