Does Milk Increase White Blood Cells?

What are white blood cells?

White blood cells (WBC) are produced in the bone marrow and are present in the blood and lymphatic tissue. White blood cells are immune system components. They aid the immune system in fighting infection and other disorders. Granulocytes (neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils), monocytes, and lymphocytes are types of white blood cells (T-cells and B-cells). Checking the white blood cell count is often part of a complete blood count (CBC) test. It may be used to detect infections, inflammations, allergies, and leukaemia, among others. They are also known as leukocytes and white blood cells.

Causes of low white blood cells

WBC are produced in the bone marrow - the spongy tissue found inside parts of your bigger bones. Low white blood cell count is often caused by: 

  • Viral infections that temporarily impair bone marrow function 
  • Certain birth defects (congenital) including impaired bone marrow function 
  • Cancer and other disorders that affect the bone marrow 
  • Autoimmune diseases that cause the destruction of white blood cells or bone marrow cells 
  • Infections that consume white blood cells faster than they are created 
  • Antibiotics and other medications that kill white blood cells 
  • Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in the body) 

The following are some specific reasons of a low WBC count

  • Anaemia of Aplastic Anaemia 
  • Chemotherapy 
  • Hypersplenism (abnormality of the spleen causing blood cell destruction) 
  • The syndrome of Kostmann (congenital disorder involving low production of neutrophils) 
  • Leukaemia 
  • Lupus 
  • Vitamin deficiency and malnutrition 
  • Syndromes of myelodysplastic transformation 
  • Myelokathexis (congenital disorder involving failure of neutrophils to enter the bloodstream) 
  • Radiation treatment 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other immune-mediated diseases 
  • Tuberculosis (and other infectious diseases)

Does milk increase white blood cells?

Cow and human milk were equally efficient in increasing the number of bone marrow cells and the functioning of blood and peritoneal cells involved in immune response.18 Only human milk normalised the number of leukocytes and raised the number of neutrophils in peripheral blood.18

Other foods to increase white blood cells

You may reduce your risk of illness by washing your hands with antibacterial soap and warm water multiple times every day and every time you prepare food. If you have neutropenia, you should avoid raw meat, eggs, and seafood, as well as mouldy or expired food, unwashed or mouldy fruit and vegetables, and unpasteurised drinks such as fruit and vegetable juice, beer, milk, and honey. Before eating fruits and vegetables, properly wash them. It is also critical to follow appropriate hygiene, hand-washing, and food safety standards. 

Dietary omega-3 fatty acids may aid in the formation of phagocytes, which are white blood cells that devour dangerous intruders. WBC levels rose and the activity of a kind of white blood cell termed B-cells was elevated in participants who received dietary fatty acids. Flaxseed oil, chia seeds, fish oil, walnuts, oysters, salmon, spinach, and soybeans are all rich in omega-3. 

Green tea has been used for centuries to treat a variety of diseases. It is high in antioxidants, which help the body fight infections, as well as flavonoids and epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which boosts immune function and helps the body fight infection. Green tea also includes the amino acid L-theanine, which boosts T-cell production of germ-fighting chemicals. So, for the greatest benefits, consume green tea on a regular basis.  

Garlic may help raise natural killer cell activity and increase the number of white blood cells in the body. Furthermore, it is high in sulphur, which helps to enhance immunity and white blood cell count. According to one research, garlic's antibacterial qualities and high vitamin C concentration makes it a powerful immune-system booster that is helpful against viral, fungal, bacterial, and parasite illnesses. It also seems to improve WBC capacity to fight infections and stimulate other immune cells. To add taste and gain the numerous benefits of garlic, add it to your favourite recipes and salad dressing. 

Because they are high in vitamin C and A, fruits and vegetables (which contain nutrients such as beta-carotene) may help boost antibody and white blood cell synthesis. To guarantee optimal consumption of these vitamins, you should consume at least 5-6 servings of vegetables and fruits every day. 

Peppers of all types, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower are examples of vitamin C-rich vegetables. Guava, strawberries, papaya, kiwi, citrus, and cantaloupe are all high in vitamin C. 

Beta-carotene also aids in the development of infection-fighting cells and T-cells, as well as boosting the immune system to raise white blood cell count. Carrots, pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, apricots, and mangoes are rich in beta-carotene. 

Because it is high in vitamin A and C, papaya may boost the development of white blood cells or lymphocytes in the body. It also includes papain, a digestive enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties. This fruit is also good for your general health since it contains a lot of folate, potassium, and B vitamins. 

Foods rich in vitamin E may boost your immunity because they include antioxidants that encourage the development of killer cells, which help eliminate cancer cells and pathogens. Vitamin E boosts the creation of B-cells, which aid in the formation of antibodies that are useful in killing germs. To receive your daily dose of vitamin E, eat foods like almonds, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, broccoli, and spinach. 

Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, containing more of the mineral than any other nut with an average of 96 mcg per nut. As a result, the typical Brazil nut contains 175% of the needed quantity. Selenium is a trace element that is essential for your body's correct functioning. It is necessary for your thyroid and has an impact on your immune system and cell proliferation. Higher selenium levels have been related to improved immune function and outcomes for cancer, infections, infertility, pregnancy, heart disease, and mental disorders. Finally, brazil nuts are an excellent method to maintain or boost your selenium consumption. In fact, one research of 60 adults discovered that eating two Brazil nuts each day was just as beneficial as taking a selenium pill at increasing selenium levels. 

Folic acid, as well as vitamins B6 and B12, aid in the production of white blood cells in the body. Sunflower seeds, chicken, turkey, dry almonds, avocados, spinach, and bananas are all high in vitamin B6. Folic acid-rich foods include lentils, dry beans and peas, leafy greens including broccoli, spinach, asparagus, okra, and citrus fruits. Folic acid supplements are also available. Low-fat yoghurt and milk, fortified morning cereals, poultry, clams, trout, and salmon are all rich in vitamin B12. Remember to see a doctor for suggested dosages of these supplements or foods that are appropriate for your health circumstances, as well as any prescription medicine. 

Good quality lean protein is essential for cancer patients to consume since our bodies need the building blocks (amino acids) from protein to produce new WBCs. Protein is abundant in lean meats such as fish, eggs, shellfish, and skinless fowl. Lentils, beans, and soy are excellent plant-based sources. 

Zinc is one of the finest nutrients for increasing white blood cells since it helps the body manufacture more WBCs while also making existing WBCs more aggressive. Zinc-rich foods include turkey meat, beef, crab, and oysters. Zinc is also found in fortified grains and beans. 

Yoghurt contains probiotics which aid in the battle against harmful microorganisms. It also helps to increase white blood cells by activating your immune system. According to one research, people who drink probiotic drinks on a regular basis had greater WBC levels because there are fewer harmful bacteria in their digestive system. Yoghurt is also high in vitamin D, which helps to regulate immunity and strengthen the body's natural defences against illness.

Ways to boost your blood count

Eating an iron-rich diet may help your body produce more RBCs. Foods high in iron include: 

  • Dark, leafy, green vegetables such as spinach and kale 
  • Red meat, such as beef 
  • Organ meat, such as kidney and liver 
  • Dried fruits like prunes and raisins legumes 
  • Egg whites 

Including specific B vitamins in your diet may also help. Vitamin B-9 (folic acid) rich foods include: 

  • Bread with added nutrients 
  • Cereals with added nutrients 
  • Spinach and kale are examples of dark, leafy green veggies
  • Beans 
  • Lentils 
  • Peas\nuts 

Red meat, such as beef, fish, dairy products - such as milk and cheese - and eggs are all rich in vitamin B-12

Although copper intake may not directly result in RBC creation, it can assist your RBCs in accessing the iron they need to replicate. Copper-rich foods include: 

  • Poultry\shellfish\silver\beans 
  • Cherries\nuts 
  • A vitamin 

In this way, retinol also aids RBC synthesis. Vitamin A rich foods include: 

  • Dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale 
  • Potatoes dulces 
  • Squash\carrots 
  • Red bell peppers 
  • Fruits such as watermelon, grapefruit, and cantaloupe

Home remedies to boost white blood cells

Lavender oil is often used to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as to encourage sleep.1 It also increases WBC count which improves general immunity. Essential oils such as sweet almond oil, tea tree oil, and cypress oil have comparable effects on white blood cell formation.1 

Garlic has immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects (due to the presence of allicin) that increase immunity by increasing the creation of white blood cells such as lymphocytes, eosinophils, and macrophages.2 

Spinach is high in vitamins and minerals. It also has antioxidant qualities3, which may aid in the production of white blood cells. 

Acetogenins, found in papaya leaves, are essential chemicals that promote immunity by boosting WBC count. Dengue fever may be effectively treated with papaya leaf juice.4 

Vitamins A, C, E, and B9 are essential for increasing your white blood cell count. Vitamin A is known to increase lymphocytes, whilst vitamin C is known to promote general immunity.5,6 Vitamin B9 is required for neutrophil formation, while vitamin E increases the generation of natural killer cells.7,8 Consume vegetables and fruits such as spinach, carrots, cheese, beef, eggs, salmon, sweet potatoes, and citrus fruits. After contacting your doctor, you may also take vitamin supplements. 

Zinc may assist in restoring normal white blood cell activity, thus improving immunity.12 

Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which may help manage your white blood cell count and strengthen your immune system.13 

Selenium consumption improves the formation of white blood cells, particularly lymphocytes and neutrophils. Selenium also boosts your resistance to infections and disorders.14 

Kiwis are high in antioxidants and potassium, as well as vitamins C and E. All of these nutrients help to boost your immunity and increase the number of white blood cells in your body.15 

Citrus fruits are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, both of which boost immune function.16 They also contribute to a rise in the WBC count. Oranges, kiwis, strawberries, lemons, and grapefruits are some common citrus fruits. 

Noni fruit has a lot of vitamin C, which is why it works so well for boosting immunity. It has stimulating qualities that assist in boosting the number of T and B cells.17


White blood cells (WBC) are produced in the bone marrow and help in fighting infections and other disorders. Viral infections, certain birth defects, cancer, autoimmune diseases, infections, medications, sarcoidosis are some causes of low white blood cell count. Cow and human milk increase the number of bone marrow cells and the functioning of blood and peritoneal cells involved in immune response. Only human milk normalized the number of leukocytes and raised the number of neutrophils in peripheral blood. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids, green tea, garlic, fruits and vegetables, vitamin E, and papaya may help increase white blood cells. Washing hands with antibacterial soap and warm water multiple times every day, following appropriate hygiene and food safety standards, avoiding raw meat, eggs, and seafood, and properly washing fruits and vegetables are also essential to reduce the risk of illness.


  1. Immunological and Psychological Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  2. Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds, Journal of Immunology Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  3. Functional properties of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) phytochemicals and bioactive, Food & Function, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  4. Effect Of Papaya Leaf Juice On Platelet And Wbc Count In Dengue Fever: A Case Report, ResearchGate.
  5. Retinol (vitamin A) is a cofactor in CD3-induced human T-lymphocyte activation, Immunology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  6. Vitamin C and Immune Function, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  7. In vitro immune response of human peripheral blood cells to vitamins C and E, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  8. The effects of vitamin E on NK cell activity and lymphocyte proliferation in treated mice by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  9. Consumption of Dairy Yogurt Containing Lactobacillus paracaseissp. Paracasei, Bifidobacterium animalisssp.lactis and Heat-Treated Lactobacillus plantarum Improves Immune Function Including Natural Killer Cell Activity, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  10. Daily intake of probiotic as well as conventional yogurt has a stimulating effect on cellular immunity in young healthy women, Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  11. Long chain omega-3 fatty acid immunomodulation and the potential for adverse health outcomes, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  12. Zinc in Human Health: Effect of Zinc on Immune Cells, Molecular Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  13. Nrf2 activation by sulforaphane restores the age-related decline of Th1 immunity: Role of dendritic cells, The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  14. Effect of Oral Supplementation of Biogenic Selenium Nanoparticles on White Blood Cell Profile of BALB/c Mice and Mice Exposed to X-ray Radiation, Avicenna Journal of Medical Biotechnology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  15. Effects of kiwifruit on innate and adaptive immunity and symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  16. Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human health, Chemistry Central Journal, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
  17. Immunostimulant activity of noni (Morinda citrifolia) on T and B lymphocytes, Pharmaceutical Biology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  18. 4. I G, S S, H Z, J V, G A. Effect of human milk on blood and bone marrow cells in a malnourished mice model; comparative study with cow milk [Internet]. PubMed. 2022.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Sara Maria Majernikova

Bachelor of Science - BSc, Biomedical Sciences: Drug Mechanisms, UCL (University College London)
Experienced as a Research Intern at Department of Health Psychology and Methodology Research, Faculty of Medicine, Laboratory Intern at Department of Medical Biology, Faculty Medicine Biomedical Sciences Research Intern and Pharmacology Research Intern.

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