How to Increase Platelet Count Naturally

You can increase your platelet count naturally by eating certain foods like papaya and dark chocolate. Other foods like tahini and cow's milk may lower your platelet count, so it would be best to avoid them.

Platelets, also known as thrombocytes, are a type of blood cell responsible for blood clotting. When platelet counts fall below normal levels, the risk of uncontrolled or prolonged bleeding increases. If you have low platelets, you will likely also need treatment from a healthcare provider, depending on the cause.

This article discusses how to increase your platelet count. It includes the symptoms and causes of low platelets and explains how certain nutrients can help boost your blood platelet count.

Blood with platelets

Science Photo Library - SCIEPRO / Getty Images

What Causes a Low Platelet Count?

Low platelet count can develop for two reasons: the body is not producing enough platelets or is breaking platelets down too quickly. Conditions like leukemia can slow platelet production, as can some chemotherapy medications. Being pregnant, having a swollen spleen, an autoimmune disorder, or a bacterial infection in your blood can cause your body to use platelets more rapidly than usual.

Foods to Eat That Increase Platelet Count

Depending on the cause of your low platelet count, you will likely need some medical treatment to increase your levels. There are also foods and supplements that you can consume to support the manufacturing of platelets and increase your platelet count.


Papaya and papaya leaves are a well-known natural remedy for thrombocytopenia in some parts of the world, and several studies are evaluating this claim. While there are many theories as to why papaya could increase platelets, it does appear that this enzyme-rich fruit significantly increases the activity of an enzyme that is important in platelet production in bone marrow.

Papaya (or an extract made with the leaf) is perhaps best known in regions where dengue fever, an infection characterized by a dangerous drop in platelet levels, is endemic. In one placebo-controlled trial with adults who had dengue fever, papaya leaf extract was associated with less of a decline in platelet levels at days one through five of hospitalization.

Another study looking at children with dengue fever also noted some benefits with regard to platelet levels.

You can eat fresh papaya fruit or make juice from the papaya leaf (available in some warmer climates) at home. There are also extracts available, but it's important to talk to your healthcare provider before considering using papaya in supplemental form, as it can interact with other medications.

Spinach and Other Leafy Green Vegetables

Spinach is an excellent source of folate (vitamin B9), a nutrient needed for the production of not only platelets but also red blood cells and white blood cells.

Other good choices for foods high in folate include other leafy greens such as mustard greens, beef liver, legumes (especially black-eyed peas and kidney beans), rice, peanuts, and asparagus. Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with folate.

Folate in leafy greens is a good way to illustrate the complexity of our health and the importance of overall good eating practices. It's been noted that adults with high blood pressure have an increased risk of strokes. Researchers in China examined whether folate supplementation could reduce this risk. They found that among people who had low platelet counts (and high homocysteine levels), supplementing with folate reduced the risk of the first stroke by 73%.


Kiwi is rich in vitamin C and is an excellent addition to a low platelet diet. Vitamin C supports the normal functioning of platelets, such as gathering together (aggregating) and sticking (adhesion).

Additional foods high in vitamin C include red pepper, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, and citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits.

Collard Greens

Collard greens have nearly the highest content of vitamin K of any food. Vitamin K plays an essential role in clotting.

Along with collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, kale, and broccoli are also excellent vitamin K sources, with other foods having less than half or less the content of these green leafy veggies. If you want to try the highest source of vitamin K, the Japanese food Natto fits the bill.

Dark Chocolate

This sweet treat is actually an excellent source of iron.

While iron is best known for its role in forming red blood cells, its association with healthy platelet levels had been relatively under-recognized until recently. Iron is needed for the process of forming the large cells in bone marrow (megakaryocytes) that are broken up into pieces to form platelets.

Dark chocolate is a great iron source, with only oysters and white beans having a higher iron content per serving. Other good sources of iron include spinach, lentils, and tofu. (Fortified cereals often contain iron as well.)

Nutritional Yeast

If you do any vegetarian or vegan cooking, nutritional yeast is likely already a staple for its cheesy flavor. Other than beef liver, nutritional yeast has the highest content per serving of vitamin B12. This nutrient is necessary to produce platelets.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the possible causes of thrombocytopenia. Increasing your intake of nutritional yeast and other sources, such as clams, tuna, and salmon can help support healthy platelet levels.

Foods to Avoid

You should avoid certain foods and supplements that have been implicated in lowering platelet counts while you're trying to raise your platelet levels.


Alcoholic beverages may reduce platelet counts in more than one way. First, it can lead to a deficiency of folate (needed for platelet production), and second, it raises the chance of bleeding. In addition, it appears to play a role in the death of platelets (apoptosis).

Tonic Water (Quinine)

Quinine is a well-known cause of drug-induced thrombocytopenia, and tonic water usually contains quinine. However, you'd have to drink a lot of tonic water to consume a harmful level of quinine. Still, the compound has been associated with the destruction of platelets, and there is at least one case report of life-threatening thrombocytopenia linked to tonic water.

Nutrasweet (Aspartame)

The artificial sweetener Nutrasweet (aspartame) has been linked to thrombocytopenia, though the exact mechanism is uncertain.

Furthermore, research shows that some metabolic issues and conditions may be worsened by aspartame consumption, leading researchers to suggest that aspartame should be avoided in people with conditions that affect their blood vessels.

Other Foods to Avoid

Some other foods have been linked to lower platelet counts or platelet dysfunction in at least a few studies. These include:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Cow's milk
  • Jui (a Chinese herbal tea)
  • Tahini

Supplements to Try and Avoid

As discussed above, papaya leaf may help increase platelet counts for some people, and supplements are available. A supplement of papaya leaf extract may be more accessible for some people, but consult your healthcare provider before trying.

When taken in supplemental form, the doses of nutrients may greatly exceed those found in foods. In other cases, due to lack of regulation, the supplement may be present in only very small amounts.

There is a long list of supplements that may either reduce platelet count or reduce clotting ability. For the most part, these aren't problematic for people who are healthy, but it's important to look at supplements as you would any medication. They have biological effects that may alter your body in ways good or bad.

Some supplements that may alter platelet function (or clotting) include:

Some supplements may also interact with prescription medications or other supplements to contribute to poor platelet function or bleeding risk.

Signs of a Low Platelet Count

Signs you may have a low platelet count include:

  • Bleeding that lasts a long time
  • Freckle-like red spots under the skin due to leaking blood vessels (petechiae)
  • Larger red or purple spots under the skin that are not caused by injury (purpura)
  • Nosebleeds or bleeding from your gums
  • Tarry vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Blood in your urine or stool, which may appear dark red or black and tarry
  • Excessively heavy menstrual bleeding or spotting

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Having a low platelet count increases your risk for infection as well as severe bleeding. With a low platelet count, severe bleeding can occur with even a small injury.

A heavy period, a nosebleed, or slight bleeding from the gums due to flossing your teeth too hard are normal when they happen on occasion. If these symptoms persist, however, they need to be evaluated by a healthcare provider right away.

Call your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:

  • Bruises, small red spots under the skin, or a rash with no known cause
  • A fever or signs of infection
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue or weakness

Reasons to call 911 or seek immediate medical treatment include:

  • Severe bleeding or bleeding that is difficult to control
  • A severe or unusual headache
  • Vomiting blood or what looks like coffee grounds
  • Bloody or tarry stool
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or feeling like you might faint


Having a low platelet count can increase the risk of prolonged or excessive bleeding. Increasing platelets typically requires medical interventions, but there are some foods that help support platelet production. Some beneficial foods include papaya, kiwi, collard greens, and dark chocolate.

20 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Lynne Eldridge, MD
 Lynne Eldrige, MD, is a lung cancer physician, patient advocate, and award-winning author of "Avoiding Cancer One Day at a Time."