Facts & Functions
Blood – the vital fluid that sustains life. Its components include red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Some blood cells transfer oxygen; some fight invading substances endangering your cells; and others prevent excessive blood loss by forming clots.
The watery portion of the blood carries nutrients to fuel every cell in the body. It also shuttles waste to the excretory system; and transports carbon dioxide to be exhaled by the lungs. Blood plays an essential role in helping the body to adjust to changes in external temperatures and hormone levels. Many of these processes cannot happen without blood transporting hormones, nutrients, oxygen and electrolytes.
Red blood cells – provide oxygen through the whole body and transport carbon dioxide to the lungs to be exhaled.
Red blood cells are created in the red bone marrow. They live about 120 days shuttling oxygen and carbon dioxide, after which certain white blood cells destroy them in the liver and spleen. When red blood cells are destroyed, the iron they contain is recycled back to the red bone marrow to be used in new cells. The rest of the discarded old cells is transported to the digestive system where much of it ends up in faecal waste.
Anaemia – occurs when a person has too few red blood cells or if there is not enough haemoglobin in the red blood cell. As haemoglobin transports oxygen, anaemia often causes tiredness.