Red Blood Cells

What Are Red Blood Cells?

Red blood cells play an important role in your health by carrying fresh oxygen throughout the body. The oxygen gives your blood its bright red color.

Red blood cells are round with a flattish, indented center, like doughnuts without a hole. Your physician can check on the size, shape, and health of your red blood cells using tests, such as the complete blood count screening.

Red blood cells at work

Hemoglobin is the protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen. Red blood cells also remove carbon dioxide from your body, transporting it to the lungs for you to exhale.

Red blood cells are made inside your bones, in the bone marrow. They typically live for about 120 days, and then they die.

Nutrition and red blood cells

Foods rich in iron help you maintain healthy red blood cells. Vitamins are also necessary to build healthy red blood cells. These include vitamin E, found in foods such as dark green vegetables, nuts and seeds, mango, and avocados; vitamins B2, B12, and B3, found in foods such as eggs, whole grains, and bananas; and folate, available in fortified cereals, dried beans and lentils, orange juice, and green leafy vegetables.

Illnesses of the red blood cells

Most people don't think about their red blood cells unless they have a disease that affects these cells. Problems with red blood cells can be caused by illnesses or a lack of iron or vitamins in your diet. Some diseases of the red blood cells are inherited.

Diseases of the red blood cells include many types of anemia, a condition in which your body can't produce enough normal red blood cells to carry sufficient oxygen throughout the body. People with anemia may have red blood cells that have an unusual shape or that look normal, larger than normal, or smaller than normal.

Symptoms of anemia include tiredness, irregular heartbeats, pale skin, feeling cold, and, in severe cases, heart failure. Children who don't have enough healthy red blood cells grow and develop more slowly than other children. These symptoms demonstrate how important red blood cells are to your daily life.

These are common types of anemia:


Call (847)758-1230 today for an appointment and consultation with our physician.
Serving Chicago, IL and all of the Chicago northwest suburbs, southeastern Wisconsin and northwestern Indiana.


Adapted from the University of Rochester Medical Center Health Encyclopedia

Physical Exam - Level I includes:

  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test for prostate cancer
    More . . .
  • CA125 Test for ovarian cancer
    More . . .
Detailed blood pressure evaluation in both arms (seated) and in right arm (recumbent or lying down)      More . . .
Thyroid function profile      More . . .
Resting 12-lead Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) recording of electrical activity of the heart      More . . .
Cholesterol/
triglycerides profile      More . . .
Detailed clinical evaluation and consultation by Physician, not Nurse      More . . .
Comprehensive chemistry profile      More . . .