I think we all pretty well understand that blood is important.
The Bible states in Leviticus that “the life of the flesh is in the blood…”
The individual components of what makes up your blood are truly amazing. Every part playing an important role in making sure you get the oxygen and nutrients delivered to every area of your body…every single moment.
Consider these amazing facts…
- You have about 5.5 liters of blood flowing throughout your entire body.
- Your blood is circulated through your entire body in about one minute through more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels!
- All this from 30 trillion little red blood cells…that is about 1 billion red blood cells in only 2-3 drops of blood!
It’s through your blood that oxygen is delivered, along with nutrients, to every nook and cranny…of every tissue…in every organ. Compromise oxygen delivery and you start setting the stage for bad things to happen.
As a matter of fact, cancer really needs only three things to thrive. They are low oxygen, low nutrients and high acid. Cells that are compromised of oxygenation begin to be breeding ground for cancer cells. Not only does the low oxygen pose a risk, but high acid follows low oxygenation. So just by having compromised delivery of oxygen you have 2 of the 3 necessary steps for cancer to thrive in your body. Not good.
When we start talking about anemia we are really discussing the size of a red blood cell.
You’re probably familiar with iron deficiency anemia. This will leave you with really small red blood cells that can’t deliver enough oxygen and nutrients because they are too small.
You can also have red blood cells that are too big. This can be from a vitamin B6, B12 or folic acid deficiency and it will make the red blood cells too large to squeeze through all the small capillaries and deliver oxygen and nutrients.
So…as with everything in health…you need a balance. You need the right size red blood cell to have the best chance at proper delivery of oxygen. The size of red blood cell can be determined by a marker called MCV (mean corpuscular volume). This is part of your routine blood testing with a CBC (complete blood cell count). Most functional medicine practitioners like to see the MCV between 83-88 for an optimally sized red blood cell.
In addition to the MCV you should really have your serum ferritin levels checked. This is an iron storage protein and if this is low you should be treated before overt anemia is diagnosed. Unfortunately I have seen many patients with complaints such as decreased exercise tolerance, short-winded, etc that were worked up, but never had their serum ferritin levels checked. When we checked these levels these patients had levels of ferritin at 8 or lower! Optimal levels of your ferritin should be 40-70.
If you are fighting fatigue, have poor tolerance to exercise, notice a paleness of your complexion or just don’t feel well in general, then you should make sure you are not on the path to anemia.
These simple tests can help ensure you are not anemic. This will help you deliver adequate oxygen and nutrients to all your organs…including your brain. So the second key to having a healthy brain is to make sure you’re not anemic!