Dietary recommendations for low white blood cell count

Author: OncoLink Team
Last Reviewed: August 07, 2019


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Are there any supplements or foods that can help raise a White Blood Cell Count that is too low to allow the next round of chemotherapy? Is there any nutrition advice for a patient on neupogen?


There are no supplements or specific foods known to increase white blood cell counts. People often confuse iron supplementation with low white blood cell count. Iron supplementation is only appropriate with low RED blood cells. The Neupogen medication helps increase white blood cell production or is given to prevent the white cell count from dropping after chemotherapy. There are no nutrition recommendations with Neupogen since it does not affect digestion or interact with any food.

However, when white blood cells are low, your immune system is not working as it should and you are at higher risk for infection. This can make you more susceptible to getting sick if handling, preparing, or consuming unsafe foods. Learn more about food safety here.

All in all, the best way to support your immune function and white blood cell production is to eat a well-balanced diet with adequate calories to maintain weight and adequate protein during treatment. A person usually needs 1.2-1.5 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight and 13-15 calories for each pound of body weight. If your appetite is poor, you may want to supplement with Boost or Ensure liquid supplements for additional calories and protein to maintain weight and protein stores. You can also choose foods that are higher in protein. For further concerns, ask to speak with a Registered Dietitian at your Cancer Center.

Learn more about concerns with a low white blood cell count.

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