Omega-3 and the formation of blood cells


Hematopoiesis is the process of formation, development, and differentiation of blood cells. Before birth, in the embryo and fetus, it takes place in the liver, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, and bone marrow; from birth throughout the rest of life it occurs mainly in the bone marrow, though also, but in a lesser extent, in lymph nodes, spleen and liver (outside the bone marrow).

All types of blood cells are derived from primitive cells (stem cells) that have the potential to become in any kind of blood cell: red blood cells (also called erythrocytes), white blood cells (also called leukocytes), or platelets. Red blood cells live about 120 days, platelets six days and white blood cells less than a day. All types of blood cells have important roles: red blood cells deliver oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and organs, white blood cells fight infection and are part of the body’s defense system, and platelets help blood to clot in wounds. So, the self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells in bone marrow are essential to replenish all blood cell types.

This process is influenced by diet: a fish-oil rich diet promotes hematopoiesis in the bone marrow and spleen.