Blood flows throughout the body, carrying oxygen and nutrients and regulating body temperature. It is composed of four primary components. These are red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma.
Plasma Basics The liquid portion of blood, plasma comprises 55 percent of blood's total volume, and is itself is composed of 92 percent water. It carries cells and platelets throughout the body. When separated from these, it is light yellow in color. Besides the cells, it transports nutrients and carries away waste to be processed by the kidneys and liver.
A Closer Look In addition to the elements listed above, plasma also contains salt, clotting factors, antibodies and proteins. The last three items are harvested from donated blood and are vital in the treatment of disease and injury.
Clotting factors help form protective scabs over wounds and prevent too much blood loss. People suffering from hemophilia are deficient in this element, and are at grave risk of traumatic blood loss from even minor injuries. Antibodies help the body fight illness and infection. Also called immunoglobulins, they are produced by the white blood cells and carried in the plasma. Those with weakened immune systems due to illness or medical treatment may lack sufficient antibodies in their blood plasma.
Blood proteins help carry fats and nutrients throughout the body, in addition to helping maintain proper blood pressure. Low blood proteins can be caused by medical treatments, and may result in loss of energy, poor appetite and other disturbances. Even a brief overview of plasma elements and deficiencies illustrates how vital the substance is to good health.
Plasma Health Maintaining healthy blood and plasma is an important part of staying well. The same factors that affect the body also influence the blood. Lack of certain components like iron or calcium, or overabundance of others such as fat and cholesterol can blood health problems. Smoking harms the circulatory system as well as the blood itself. Abuse of alcohol and other drugs may negatively influence blood. A poor diet may lack the nutrients needed to build healthy blood, producing deficiencies in vitamins, iron and other minerals that build blood and plasma. Physical activity is as important for the blood as it is for the rest of the body. One primary benefit is the lowering of blood pressure, which may increase overall cardiovascular health. It is best to consult a medical professional on the best diet and exercise programs for optimal blood health.
Plasma Donation Blood or plasma donation is one of the most generous acts a person can undertake. Blood products cannot be manufactured, and only come from donors. They are essential for trauma survivors, burn victims and cancer patients, among many others. Donation is a safe, relatively painless procedure, and helps people suffering from diseases and injuries such as those listed above. Donors who meet the initial requirements then undergo a basic health exam. In a process that takes roughly 90 minutes, the donor's blood is cycled through a special machine that removes the plasma and returns the cells and platelets. Whole blood may also be donated, and there is a need for all blood elements.