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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Lab results came back today and I'm deficient in both iron and b12. :-( My doctor told me my blood results indicate anemia, something that strikes me as somewhat shocking. I've been vegetarian for 3 years, and have considered myself to have a varied and healthy diet. I guess not. I don't believe in supplements, as I've read so many different opinions about them. Some doctors think they work and others say they don't, so it's difficult to trust that taking a pill will make me healthy. Besides that, I simply don't want to have to nourish myself with pills. I want to believe that a vegetarian can be as healthy, if not more healthy than an omnivore without resorting to supplements. I thought I was, but now I'm not so sure. Oh, dr says im also deficient in Vitamin D.

Anyways, the lab results show a lot of numbers that I don't understand and hopefully someone out there can help me decipher them. My questions for this post would be the following:

1. Can you help me understand my lab results? What is considered normal numbers? what do the numbers in parentheses mean?

2. How quickly can a b12 and iron deficiency be reversed and can it be done without supplements?

3. What is your opinion on supplements and vegetarianism?

Thanks much.

-Nicole

Lab Results:

ALT (liver test) 17 (17-63)
Total cholesterol 164 (<200)
LDL Cholesterol 69 (<130)
HDL Cholesterol 80 (>40 in men >50 in women)
Vitamin D 19.2 (30-100)
Hemoglobin 11.9 (13.6-17.5)
Iron 116 (28-170)
Ferritin 27 (11-206)
Vitamin B12 272 (180-914)
 

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It looks like your results are on the left and the normal ranges are in the parenthesis? That would be my guess.

It should be possible to get enough b12 on a lacto-vegetarian diet without supplements. It should also be possible on a vegan diet without supplements if you are careful to eat enough fortified products every day. (A bit too hard for my taste.)

As for supplements, personally I don't see a problem with relying on a limited number of them. (Just not so many that it becomes impractical.) There was a study a few years ago that found that some supplements didn't really seem to work, but I don't think B12 was one of those supplements. There are countless vegans who rely on B12 supplements today and are healthy and well as a result.

Women have higher iron requirements than men due to the monthly blood loss. Some need to supplement to make up for that.
 

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in the US, it's almost a necessity for everyone to supplement with Vit D. It's also important to get at least 20 minutes of direct sunshine on your skin during the spring/summer/fall seasons, without sunscreen on. If out for longer periods, or risk getting burned, then it's necessary to protect yourself. HAving adequate levels of Vit D which is really a hormone, not a vitamin, can help prevent cancer, maintains cardiac health, also can prevent cognitive impairment as we age, and also plays a role in diabetes. If supplementing, you want to choose D2, as D3 is made from sheep's wool, and also may be in a gelatin capsule.

Many vegans need to supplement with B12 also....instead of a lack of intake, B12 deficiency can be related to absorption issues, which omni's can also suffer from even though they eat foods with B12 in it. But your's looks like it's within range now. Symptoms can show up years later after the body becomes depleted of it's stores.

To deal with your anemia, eat a lot of greens- kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, and cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower.

Your cholesterol numbers look very good! Good for you!
 

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Thought I should comment a bit on some of the results specifically:
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoleSau View Post

Hemoglobin 11.9 (13.6-17.5)
So below the normal range. Can be raised by increasing iron intake.
Quote:
Iron 116 (28-170)
Ferritin 27 (11-206)
"If the ferritin level is low, there is a risk for lack of iron, which could lead to anemia. Low ferritin levels (<50 ng/mL) [...] In the setting of anemia, serum ferritin is the most specific lab test for iron deficiency anemia." (From Wikipedia.)
Quote:
Vitamin B12 272 (180-914)
Although it seems to be within the normal range, it's a bit low. You can probably fix that by supplements., e.g. a 1000 microgram dose per day.

(Disclaimer: I'm obviously neither a doctor nor a nutritionist so you shouldn't trust a word I'm saying.)
 

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Plant sources of special interest to vegetarians include dried fruits, especially prunes, raisins and apricots, legumes, especially lima beans, soy beans and kidney beans, almonds, Brazil nuts and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, collards, asparagus and dandelion greens. Since vitamin C promotes iron absorption from plant foods, drinking orange juice with a meal can be helpful.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/42...#ixzz1gqIFPPCc
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Indian Summer: Thanks for helping with the numbers. I assumed that the norms were in the parentheses, but since my numbers were within the range of some of them I didn't understand what the problem was.

Photojess: thanks for your food advice. the thing is, i DO eat a lot of veggies. i wonder if my coffee addiction has something to do with not being able to absorb nutrients. bad news for my mornings... though i suppose if i wasnt so fatigued i wouldnt drink so much coffee. vicious cycle maybe?

I think my biggest concern is supplements. im not sure i believe they actually work. ill start taking them anyway, thank you guys for the advice.

is anyone else out there anemic?
 

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I can understand how, philosophically, it would be comforting to be able to live on a veg*n diet without supplementing. Doing so is, in a way, like admitting that it is impossible to stay healthy naturally, i.e. we HAVE to eat meat. The fact that it is advantageous to take a B12 supplement does not necessarily suggest this, however. The need is primarily because of modern agricultural practices. B12 is synthesized in the intestines after the point at which it can be absorbed by most animals (there are a few exceptions, like cows). In a natural environment, it would end up in the soil through decomposition of animal matter and animal waste, where trace amounts would ultimately end up on wild fruits and veggies. The problem with modern non-supplemented diets, given this, is twofold. First, fruits and vegetables are not grown in such an environment. Second, any B12 that manages to end up on the surface of something is, for good reason, washed off. Produce is often fertilized using poop from disease ridden factory livestock and transported in filthy, inadequately cleaned trucks that may also be used to transport livestock, fertilizer, and who knows what else. Thus, even though eating unwashed produce might increase the chances of consuming B12 in a natural state, unless you grow it in your own back yard that's probably not a good idea.

So don't feel that adding some vitamins is like admitting vegetarianism just wasn't meant to be. It's just something that is a good idea given the disadvantages of modern agriculture.
 

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I asked my doctor about my B12 levels, and he said that my iron levels were ok, so the B12 were probably ok too....Low levels of B12 can cause anaemia it seems.

Quote:
Why does vitamin B12 deficiency cause anaemia?

Red blood cells are made in the bone marrow and circulate in the blood. They only have a life expectancy of about four months.
The body needs iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid (one of the B group of vitamins) to produce more red blood cells. If there is a lack of one or more of these nutrients, anaemia will develop.
Anaemia due to a lack of vitamin B12 is also called pernicious anaemia.
http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/...anaemiab12.htm

I take VEG1(which contains a lot of B12) pills most days, as I eat next to nothing of egg or dairy ...just the odd bit of cake, and lactose in crisps.
 

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So it sounds like you believe that supplements will either a) help or; b) do nothing... so really, what's the harm? You know your levels are low now, so try supplementing for a few months, get retested, if it's better it helped, if it isn't, then maybe they don't work for you.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoleSau View Post

Lab Results:

ALT (liver test) 17 (17-63)
Total cholesterol 164 (<200)
LDL Cholesterol 69 (<130)
HDL Cholesterol 80 (>40 in men >50 in women)
Vitamin D 19.2 (30-100)
Hemoglobin 11.9 (13.6-17.5)
Iron 116 (28-170)
Ferritin 27 (11-206)
Vitamin B12 272 (180-914)
Hi Nicole,
I work in a hospital processing lab results and if I got your results I would say you were pretty normal

Your iron, ferritin and B12 are all normal. The numbers in the parentheses are the reference ranges- the levels that your iron, ferritin and B12 should fall between and you meet all the criteria.
Your Vit D is low, but our Lab did research recently into Vit D levels and of the 100 random people we sampled, only 2 people had Vit D within the reference ranges. It is not abnormal to be Vit D deficient (although this doesn't make it ok!).

Your Haemoglobin level is slightly low, although this can be caused by a number of things and is not necessarily related to iron deficiency (i.e. over-hydration before have your blood sampled, or recently having a heavy period).

Because your iron, ferritin, B12 and haemoglobin are all towards the lower end of the reference range it may indicate that your body is beginning to become deficient in these things (although you're not yet there) and your Dr. probably wants you to increase your levels before you do become deficient.

I would say that you don't need supplements yet (although, I'm not your Doctor!) but i would make a conscious effort to increase my dietary levels of iron, B12 and folate/folic acid over the next 3 months. In 3 months time I would have my bloods re-done. If your values for haemoglobin, ferritin, iron and B12 have dropped again, then I would be worried. If your values have stayed the same or increased, then you're on the right track


(Also if you have your MCv- mean cell volume, MCH- mean cell haemoglobin and RDW- red cell distribution width, results then that would help me to determine if you are suffering from some kind of anaemia, although if you don't want to share that information then thats fine, and again I AM NOT YOUR DOCTOR.).
 

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http://www.curetoothdecay.com/Tooth_...ooth_decay.htm

The above is a link to how the phytic acid in grains, nuts and seeds affects your body. That component inhibits the absorption of iron, calcium, zinc, etc. If you are accustomed to eating breads, pasta, pizza, whole grain cereals, it's akin to shooting yourself in the foot and then asking "why do I hurt?". At least that is my conclusion after doing a lot of reading.

For years, like many of you, I have thought that eating whole wheat toast is better than white, whole wheat pasta better than white, a handful of nuts is a good snack and so on. But it would appear that we've been doing it wrong. Unless you soak your grains for at least 24 hours and then rinse, before cooking then eating, not only do you not get the benefit of the nutrients in the grain, but in the case of wheat which has a high level of phytic acid, it can neutralize the nutrients that are in other parts of your meal as well.

Generally speaking, we can use beans and legumes because we customarily (if we cook from scratch) soak them for a day or two, rinsing along the way, and then cook. This allows the phytic acid to be neutralized by the phytase that each 'seed' contains naturally. The more phytic acid in your diet, the less iron your body absorbs.

By the way, the same goes for spinach although it isn't phytic acid, it's called oxylic acid. But the result is the same. Eat raw spinach (as in a salad), and you get little nutrition from it. Spinach must be cooked, drained and then eaten to be of benefit.

I've been reading about this over the past few days and as it is my intention to be a poster child for vegan health for a variety of reasons, I'm giving my cooking methods a long hard look. The learning curve never ends it seems.
 
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