Sometimes, diseases or infections can cause low white blood cell counts. Increasing white blood cells involves treating the underlying cause, diet, medications, and supplementing vitamins.

White blood cells protect the body from disease and infection. There are multiple types of white blood cells, which people also call leukocytes. When there are insufficient levels of them, doctors refer to this as leukopenia. When someone has low amounts of certain white blood cells, it can be called neutropenia, lymphopenia, or other names according to the cell type.

This article will discuss why white blood cell counts are important and ways to raise them.

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When someone has low white blood cell counts, they have a higher risk of getting infections and illness. White blood cells help fight off disease, and some of their actions include:

  • making antibodies
  • killing cells with disease or cancer
  • recognizing invaders
  • acting as the body’s defence

The way for someone to increase their white blood cells depends on what is causing low cell counts. A person can consult a doctor about the best course of action.

Sometimes, underlying diseases or infections can lead to low white blood cell counts.

They might include the following:

Treatment or management of these underlying conditions can usually help someone increase white blood cell counts.

Depending on what is affecting white blood cell counts, a doctor may prescribe certain medications to help.

Colony-stimulating or myeloid growth factors can promote white blood cell production in the bone marrow. Doctors may prescribe growth factors to cancer patients with neutropenia or when someone has low levels of white blood cells called neutrophils.

Some myeloid growth factors include:

  • filgrastim (Neupogen)
  • tbo-filgrastim (Granix)
  • pegfilgrastim (Neulasta)
  • eflapegrastim (Rolvedon)

Learn more about granulocyte colony-stimulating factor.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), eating a balanced diet and limiting excess alcohol may help prevent a type of low white blood cell count called lymphopenia.

Evidence also suggests that a Mediterranean diet may help protect against low white blood cell counts.

A 2021 study examined whether the Mediterranean diet can affect white blood cell counts in middle-aged and older adults with high cardiovascular risk. The diet mainly consisted of the following:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fish

The diet also focused on homemade foods, limiting processed foods or added sugars, and substituting poultry for red meats. Researchers found that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of leukopenia or low white blood cell counts.


Consuming omega-3 fatty acids may potentially promote white blood cell activity.

A 2019 review described omega-3 fatty acids’ effects on immune cells. The researchers found that omega-3s promote certain functions in certain white blood cells, such as neutrophils and macrophages. However, omega-3s also hindered the activation of other immune cells.

Still, more research is necessary to know how omega-3 fatty acids affect white blood cells and whether they can raise white cell count.

Generally, a person needs to speak with a registered dietitian to help address nutritional needs and increase white cell counts.

Some people may benefit from taking multivitamins or supplements containing folate and vitamin B12. Both of these contribute to white blood cell production.

Other vitamins, such as vitamins A and C, and zinc may play a role in promoting white blood cell production. People can get more naturally through their diet too.

However, a person should always consult the doctor before trying supplements because some may interfere with certain cancer treatments.

Some cancer treatments can increase someone’s risk for neutropenia. These treatments include:

If cancer treatments are causing low white blood cell counts, a doctor may temporarily pause treatment and review the situation.

A person should always speak with a doctor about any concerns before terminating any medications.

White blood cells play an important role in immunity and protecting the body from disease. Low white blood cells can be called leukopenia, lymphopenia, neutropenia, or other names according to the type of white blood cells.

Strategies to increase white blood cell counts depend on what is causing low amounts. If underlying diseases, such as HIV, or infections affect a person’s white blood cells, treating them can help.

Other times, doctors can prescribe myeloid growth factors to stimulate white blood cell production in bone marrow, particularly for cancer patients.

Eating a balanced diet and limiting alcohol consumption may also help someone maintain healthy white blood cell counts. Evidence suggests that a Mediterranean diet may be helpful. Still, more research into diet and increasing white cell counts is necessary.