Posts tagged vegans

The Top 10 Blood Tests for Vegetarians (and Vegans) By Dr. J.E. Williams

Top 10 Blood Tests for Vegetarians by Dr. J. E. Williams

How do you make sure that your vegetarian (or vegan) diet is keeping you healthy?

First, you look at how you feel. That’s your subjective analysis.

Then, you should take a few blood tests every year to track some important health markers, and if necessary, make changes in your diet.

Today I want to share with you a resource that will answer a common question I get: “what blood tests should I get done?” But specifically for people eating a plant-based diet. This also applies to high-raw eaters who are not completely but mostly vegan, and that’s a lot of us!

But first, I want to highly endorse the program “The Complete Bloodtest Blueprint” by Kevin Gianni and Dr. J.E. Williams.

This program shows you exactly how to analyze your own blood tests. You’ll discover also what is a truly healthy result for a particular blood test, versus the “official” guidelines which often take into account the general poor health of the population, and are therefore flawed.

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The Top 10 Blood Tests for Vegetarians By Dr. J.E. Williams

Personally, I started my own personal experiment with vegetarianism and vegan lifestyle in 1972, and I also conceived and raised children as vegetarians (until they were pre-teen). I have 30 years of clinical experience in natural medicine, and for 25 years, I was a busy clinician in Southern California. Thus, I have earned my credentials and have seen it all.

I know through all of this that if you want to get your cholesterol and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) down to bare bones levels, go vegan. If you want to boost your folic acid and antioxidant levels to new heights, eat more plants. It is the same with reducing your risk for a heart attack to zero, and preventing many types of cancer. But, if you want to have strong vitamin B12 levels, and enough iron and albumin, vegetarians and vegans are vulnerable.

Today I want to discuss the basic laboratory tests most important for plant-based diets. Let’s look at the 10 most helpful ones for evaluating deficiencies and the consequences of not having adequate levels of certain nutrients.

1. CBC – Complete Blood Count with Differential and Platelets: This group of tests tells if you are anemic, immune deficient, or have an infection or allergies. Low RBC (red blood count), hemoglobin, and hematocrit are signs of anemia. The CBC helps determine your general health status. If have fatigue or weakness, or suspect an infection, this test can help determine what is the cause.

2. CMP – Comprehensive Metabolic Panel: The CMP is a group of 14 tests that provides information about the status of your kidneys, liver, and electrolyte and acid/base balance, as well as of your blood sugar (glucose) and blood proteins (total protein, albumin, and globulin).

Abnormal results, especially combinations of abnormal results, indicate a problem that needs to be addressed. Total protein below 6.5 and albumin below 3.9 are signs of protein deficiency. Glucose (blood sugar) is also tested in this panel. It is uncommon for plant-based eaters to be diabetic. Some times, however, glucose can be too low, suggesting hypoglycemia.

3. Ferritin: This test helps assess iron stores in the body. It is useful in combination with an iron and TIBC to evaluate the severity of iron deficiency or overload.

4. Folic Acid: This test gives an idea of your level of folate. It is rarely low in plant-based diets. However, higher than normal levels, common in vegetarians and vegans, combined with low vitamin B12 levels, magnifies vitamin B deficiency in the body. The amount of folate inside the red blood cell (folate, RBC) may also be measured and is normally higher inside the cell than in the serum.

5. Homocysteine: An elevated homocysteine level helps determine B12 or folate deficiency. Elevated levels of homocysteine (above 10 micromoles/liter) are associated with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) and suggest an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clot formation, and Alzheimer’s disease. I want my patients to be lower than 9 micromoles/liter and optimally less than 6 micromoles/liter.

6. Iron – total and TIBC (total iron binding capacity): Vegetarians can have adequate iron levels if they eat quantities of iron-containing vegetables and fruits, like spinach and raisins. However, raw vegans often show low levels of red blood cells and iron deficiency in their tests. Early iron deficiency causes no physical effects, so you may not know you levels are going down; but, as hemoglobin levels drop below 10 g per deciliter, things can get challenging. As the iron-deficiency progresses, symptoms begin to develop, including fatigue and tiredness, weakness, dizziness, and headaches. As iron reserves continue to be depleted, you can experience shortness of breath, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), drowsiness, and irritability.

7. Lipid Profile: This group of tests measures your blood fats (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides) to determine risk for coronary heart disease. Vegetarians typical have normal lipid profiles, but vegans may have cholesterol levels that are too low (less than 135 mg/dL). Cholesterol is essential for life. A waxy substance manufactured from raw materials supplied in the diet, it is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood. Cholesterol is the primary building block for steroid hormones like estrogen and testosterone, and adequate levels are required for health.

8. MMA – Methylmalonic Acid, serum: MMA, along with homocysteine, help diagnose an early or mild B12 deficiency. If MMA and homocysteine levels are increased, then vitamin B12 deficiency may be present, indicating less available B12 at the tissue level. If only homocysteine is elevated, then folic acid may be low or not being metabolism properly. If MMA and homocysteine levels are normal, it is unlikely that there is a B12 deficiency.

9. Vitamin B12: Both B12 and folate are necessary for normal red blood cell formation, tissue and cellular repair, DNA synthesis, and for nerve health. A deficiency in either B12 or folate causes macrocytic anemia. Also called megaloblastic anemia, this type of anemia is characterized by the production of fewer – but larger – red blood cells called macrocytes, leading to fatigue, weakness, and all the other symptoms of anemia. If your levels are below 400 pg/mL, suspect B12 deficiency. I like my patients to be at least 600-900 pg/mL.

10. Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy: This test determines vitamin D3 status. It tells if you are susceptible to bone weakness, bone malformation, or abnormal metabolism of calcium. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and absorbed from the intestine like dietary fat, low-fat diets are prone to vitamin D deficiency. Also, people with conditions that interfere with fat absorption, such as cystic fibrosis and Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and Celiac disease are not able to absorb enough Vitamin D.

Dr. Williams’ Suggested Panels for Vegetarians/Vegans

Complete Blood Count with Differential and Platelets
Comprehensive Chemistry/Metabolic Panel
Ferritin
Folic Acid
Homocysteine
Iron, total and IBC
Lipid Panel
Methylmalonic Acid, Serum
Vitamin B12
Vitamin D3, 25 Hydroxy

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Nutrition to Balance Hormones That Affect Your Mood

Nutrition to Balance Hormones That Affect Your Mood
From Herbal Papaya Newsletter – http://www.herbalpapaya.com

Now that summer is on the way, you’re undoubtedly ready to get outside and start doing “summer things.” You’ve probably noticed that you’re feeling better and that your mood is a bit more buoyant.

That’s not just a coincidence; vitamin D deficiency has been linked solidly to being moody, and sunshine is the only natural source of vitamin D. Therefore, when you’re out getting plenty of it, it’s entirely possible that your mood improves, too!

You may be surprised how much a healthy diet contributes to balanced hormones and helps with your mood, but there’s plenty of solid research to back up the theory that you are what you eat.

B vitamins are also being studied for their link with unhappy mood. Specifically B12, and to a lesser degree B6 and folate, have been linked strongly to feeling sad. This is a particular concern for vegetarians and vegans because B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products. Supplementation is necessary for that part of the population.

Vitamin C has historically been known as the vitamin that boosts the immune system. However, people who are unhappy often report significant boosts in mood after taking vitamin C. The studies here are fairly new but are promising.

One particular group of nutrients called carotenoids are linked significantly to brain, prostate, heart, eye and mental health. Carotenoids are phytonutrients found in yellow, red and orange fruits and vegetables and are powerful antioxidants. Some, but not all, convert to vitamin A in the body. Others, such as lycopene, may not convert but are still extremely valuable for their ability to bond to free radicals and help keep you healthy.

For instance, the minerals zinc and magnesium are being closely studied in relation to brain health. Both seem to play significant, though largely mysterious, roles in assisting with mood chemical production and uptake in the brain. A notable percentage of people who suffer from mood swings are found to be deficient in one or both of these minerals.

The carotenoids lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin were studied in a group of almost 1800 people age 20-85. People with the highest levels of circulating carotenoids were a whopping 37% less likely to suffer from mood swings than those who had low levels.

A Japanese study of men only showed that men with the highest levels of carotenoids were an astounding 67% less likely to suffer from mood issues than those with the lowest levels. The studies are piling up.

Carotenoids are found in high amounts in foods that are bright orange, yellow, red or green such as:

sweet potatoes
papayas
red peppers
mangos
green leafy veggies
carrots
squash
dried apricots
cantaloupe

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