If you lead a lifestyle that is based on plants and excludes animal products, then find out the top 10 blood tests to have as a vegan.
A lot of vegans and raw vegans believe that their bloodwork will by default be healthy because they eat a healthy diet.
True, a healthy vegan diet will help you get your cholesterol and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) down and keep it that way.
It will also help you boost your folic acid and antioxidant levels.
As well as that, it can also help you to significantly reduce your risk of a heart attack, as well as prevent different types of cancer.
But, if you want to have good vitamin B12 levels, vegans are vulnerable.
10 Vegan Blood Tests
Here’s an article by Dr. Williams — a Board Certified Naturopathic Physician (ANMA) who holds degrees in more than 5 different sciences.
Dr. Williams has conducted over 100,000 patient visits in over 30 years and he has earned a well-deserved reputation for his pioneering work in integrative medicine. He is the co-creator of the Complete Blood Testing Blueprint Program.
“Today I want to discuss the basic laboratory tests that are the most important to do when on a plant-based diet.
So let’s look at the 10 most important blood tests for evaluating deficiencies and some of 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. Sometimes, however, glucose can be too low, suggesting hypoglycemia.
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.
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.
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 metabolised 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.
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.”
To sum up, here are the suggested 10 vegan blood tests:
- Complete Blood Count with Differential and Platelets
- Comprehensive Chemistry/Metabolic Panel
- Folic Acid
- Iron, total and TIBC
- Lipid Panel
- Methylmalonic Acid, Serum
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D3, 25 Hydroxy
To take charge of your own health, you need to be able to understand your tests.
For that we highly recommend The Complete Blood Test Blueprint, by Dr. Williams, which is on sale this week.
The program features 35 graphics that show you clinical, desirable and optimal ranges for blood tests and what to do if your levels are high or low. It also covers what to do when you get your test results back and how to bring your levels into the optimal ranges.
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