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Vegan Blood Test Results (October 2016)

By 15:41 , ,

I'm currently learning about micronutrients in a Nutrition Science module and while I've learnt about them in polytechnic before and not felt compelled to get my nutrient status checked, this time I did! Probably also because the uni clinic is so convenient and I paid nothing upfront for it since it's covered under the student health insurance. 

This is such an irrelevant cover photo but I need some colour in this post! These pretty trees are at full bloom now

You can skip this story if you just wanna see the results: So here we get the prescription for a blood test and go to a pathology clinic to get blood drawn. The funny thing is that I went to get my blood drawn after seeing the doctor but the pathologist couldn't get any blood out of both arms LOL. Like previously he had trouble drawing my blood but it was successful (and he asked if I drank any water that day). This time, I had to go back the next morning after following instructions to drink lotsa water. The pathologist (they basically draw and analysis blood the whole day) seems like he'd never encountered a situation where he couldn't draw blood and I think I made him doubt his capabilities hahaha oh no. After drawing my blood the next day he was constantly apologising and he said something like "I thought I learnt/knew everything" lol it was hilarious! The thing is that here (or maybe just this particular pathologist since I've not seen any others) they are much more gentle when drawing blood. They just gently press the inner elbow(?) and use a really comfortable seat-belt-like arm band(?) while in Singapore the nurses just hit your arm and use a rubber tube to tie. Never had problems with blood drawing in Singapore so I think I need more violence to get the blood flowing in arm haha

Anyway I've been vegan for 4-ish years but have never gotten blood tests for important micronutrients that can be deficient in a plant-based diet. I saw this website and a few others to see the recommended tests for vegans. I'm also curious about iodine levels but it can only be tested from the urine....nope no thanks.

The tests I requested for are:
Vitamin B12
Vitamin D

The doctor added:
Complete blood count (CBC)
+ more

This page shows the random things they checked. Everything's fine! Note that the calcium here does not reflect actual calcium status (bone mineral density) since the body regulates blood calcium (by leaching/storing calcium in the bones) such that it's always constant unless you're ill or injured. Fasting wasn't compulsory but since I went for the blood test the next day I decided to delay breakfast. I think it just impacts on blood glucose levels (unless you eat a lot of fat at breakfast?)

This next page shows my vitamin B12 levels. The doctor was impressed because apparently many meat eaters don't reach this level and I only take supplements occasionally. Maybe it's thanks to nooch (nutritional yeast) haha. I saw this article by The Vegan Society about B12 while researching for blood tests and I should actually be testing for methylmalonic acid (MMA). B12 levels may be inflated due to algae analogues. I didn't bring it up during the consultation but I've not been eating algae for a over a month so hopefully my B12 levels are within range even with the analogues? I guess I'll test for that in a year or so!

Thyroid function (measured by thyroid stimulating hormone - TSH) is linked to metabolism and is affected by iodine status. So I guess this indirectly reflects that I'm eating enough iodine.

I've been eating a lot of iron-fortified breakfast cereals the whole time I've been in Brisbane. In Singapore I used to eat air-popped popcorn and oatmeal but here I eat cornflakes and Weetbix/Vitabrits respectively instead. So much more sodium and so much more processed carbs but on the bright side, they're iron-fortified LOL. I eat much less green leafy veggies here too, so basically 98% of my iron is from cereals I think. It also helps that my periods aren't heavy and I get them about once every 2 months (which is perfectly fine for me according to my doctor in Singapore). I'm glad that my (and this doctor's) suspicions were proven to be wrong - my periods aren't infrequent because of low iron levels ^^

Here's my complete blood count which shows nothing out of the ordinary. What's interesting is that my haematocrit (hct) is within range but slightly on the higher side. It's a measure of the concentration of red blood cells in blood, higher haematocrit means thicker blood which can be due to dehydration. So maybe the pathologist was right when he couldn't draw blood the first time? I was fairly hydrated when this blood was drawn so I think my blood must've been pretty thick and low in volume the previous day oops.

The only thing I have issues with is Vitamin D, which is mildly deficient. I've had low vitamin D levels a few years ago (pre-vegan) but even now when I'm in Brisbane (capital of Queensland, aka the Sunshine State aka skin cancer capital of the world) my levels are kinda low (although higher than what I remember from a few years ago). Possibly because Winter ended somewhat recently (according to the doctor even though it's been spring for a while) but mostly because I'm indoors a lot lol. I guess I should go out to the park and walk/jog more often! Maybe I should go to the supermarket between 10am-2pm instead of after 5pm lol. Or maybe just take supplements.

That's it for the blood test results! I was expecting B12 and iron to be low but they're not... so I guess my somewhat low-energy-ness is just my personality LOL. And that I feel kinda short-of-breath when I climb up the hill to get to school because I don't exercise regularly. I've not started exam revision for this module so I'm sorry if anything's inaccurate and I'll come back to fix things if I realise them while studying haha. I wanted to share about the supplements I occasionally take but I'll leave that for another time because I've already spent 3.5 precious daylight hours on this lol. Have a lovely day!

EDIT: Here's the supplement post

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