Today I went to the doctor to get the results of a blood test. I went in on Saturday to get the test as I had been feeling fatigued, needing lots of sleep (probably at least 8 hours on average), maybe even 9 or 10, or if I didn’t get a lot of sleep I’d go into microsleeps a lot when I sat down to meditate.
The results were that B12 was below the acceptable range, vitamin D was low (21 I think in units of micrograms per L), and iron was 36 mcg/L, with the range being 20-300 (but fatigue occurs below 30). The rest of the results were ‘perfect’. Dr Trevor Tingate was very helpful, which was a pleasant contrast to the two or more doctors whom I’d had tests with at Chatswood Medical Centre on Victoria Ave. When I went there, they told me to eat meat, take Sustagen, or supplements. Dr Tingate advised and looked online for sources of B12, such as nutritional yeast, Vegemite, fortified foods, and supplements. He also talked about a lot about Vitamin D deficiency, such as how it was even more common in winter, why that was the case (drawing a diagram of the more oblique path of the through the atmosphere compared to summer), and even from an evolutionary perspective, where a black person would have to spend all his time in the Sun at the equator and wouldn’t be able to get enough Vitamin D if he did so in Tasmania.
I expressed surprise that my Vitamin D levels were low, as I probably get on average an hour of Sun a day, full body, in my room, with an East facing window, in the morning between 8ish to 9ish where no person can see me. I only told him that I got at least half an hour of Sun a day. He assumed that I was walking around with my clothes on.
He also talked about the Paleo Diet: how cavemen probably had a diet consisting mostly of meat, supplemented by other foods such as berries (I’ll add roots, fruits, and vegetables). He spoke about how vegetarians and vegans can be overloaded with carbs, which can have a negative effect, which is partly why the Paleo diet puts more emphasis on proteins. He then said from an evolutionary perspective, if humans evolved to eat a Paleo diet, then my diet was relatively limited in spectrum.
He showed me his wife’s website, http://www.soohiebenbow.com, who is a vegetarian, has a lot of recipes, and who I could email for advice, and gave me her card.
He talked about how males (particularly those who eat a lot of meat) could have too high iron levels, when I asked him about iron overdosing.
He talked about how diets are relative, giving an example with how eating a lot of McDonalds was worse than my diet. He said most of the people at around the age of 80 who come to see him don’t smoke, drink, or eat McDonalds.
I told him that I have quite a lot of sugar in my diet, with a handful each of sultanas and dates daily, plus on most days a banana or two, plus other fruit. I said that someone said that sugar can delete nutrients in the body. He sort of brushed that off, saying that that was probably because people think sugar is bad for you. He said that sugar in fruit is better than processed sugar.
He asked what my theories were for being a vegan, and I briefly said that it’s healthier and more sustainable. I didn’t mention ethics, or Swami Sri Yukteswar’s reasons which he outlines in the Holy Science.
Afterwards, I went to the Chemist Warehouse to buy a Swisse 150 capsule container of vitamin D, and Swisse liquid iron (which also has B Vitamins including B12). Before buying, I weighed up whether I’d be able to get these nutrients from foods. I realised that I could get them all in fortified foods as a vegan. However, if I have to get Vitamin B12 artificially, there is little difference between having it in fortified foods and having it as a supplement. Given that it will be difficult to get more Sun than I already do, I’ll need to take supplements for that too. Finally, as a vegan, I probably can get more iron from vegan food, especially now that I recently got an Omniblend V. However, I’d prefer to boost my iron up to high levels with supplements for safety and quick health results, then experiment with varying my diet to get iron without supplements, and taking them again if iron levels start to fall.
I said that I’ll changing my diet, and come back in a few months. He said 8 weeks should be enough. I’ll post an update with the next test, then maybe more with further experiments to weak off supplements.
The wait time was fairly long on both visits, but not too bad, maybe a bit longer compared to Chatswood Medical Centre, but it wasn’t a big deal for me, as I had things to read on my phone, just pretty distracting with patients being served and conversations. Someone else asked about the wait time (this was at around 2-3 pm, so not too busy a time) and the lady receptionist explained that they were understaffed.
I spoke with my Mum, who is a naturopath, and who advised me to take a B complex, and check for selenium. I said if I was low in anything else, wouldn’t it have shown up in the blood test? I’ll double check to see if I can get the written results. Swisse liquid iron contains B1, B2, B6, and B12, not B3 nor B5. She said I’d had issues with thyroid in one or more past tests, which can be related to the low counts that I’ve had.
A naturopath friend replied as follows after sharing my results:
Hello james – thanks for sending me the results of your blood test. I have a complete test done annually, and for the most part, my levels are within the recommended range, and even on the higher side, which is good. However, I can say that for many years my B12 levels have been low, so I can relate to that aspect of your test. I can also say that I believe it was my low B12 levels that accounted to some degree, for my sleepiness, and mental malaise. By malaise I mean fuzzy headedness, forgetfulness, emotional swings, and drowsiness. [It wasn’t the sole reason. A yin diet, as have explained to you, robs the body of minerals by the kidneys urinating the minerals out, and this results in those symptoms, including sleepiness, too]. I tried to improve the situation with diet – more seaweed, more fermented foods, etc., and to some degree this helped. But in the end I had to have an annual B12 injection for several years. I was never sure of the source of the B12 though and this disturbed me, so in the end I found through a long time vegan macrobiotic friend, a good vegan source of B12. It’s a high dose (2,000 micrograms), but I only take 1 per week, and my levels since taking them for a few years now, have been very good. On the higher side of the normal range.
I initially got them from a Dr. Gabriel Cousens from his Tree of Life website. He is a raw vegan Rabbi in Arizona in the USA. And his work is outstanding – well worth a look. Last time I tried to get the product though, they didn’t seem to stock it, so I just googled it and found a separate source for it. I would recommend you try and get some. It could make a big difference to your state of health. I believe B12 and iron are interrelated so getting B12 right might improve your iron. And of course you would understand I’d suggest minimising the very sweet fruits, and reducing fruit overall anyway.
I have two books by Dr. Cousens – they are very good. Happy to lend them to you if you wish. He is about 70 years old, and has been raw vegan, meditating, fasting, for many years. He can do 500 push ups at is age, and is very good at research and his many years of experience as a doctor allows him to relate from real experiences. Anyway, let me know if you want the books.
The product I would recommend is – PERQUE ACTIVATED B12 GUARD. 2,000 micrograms sublingual 100 lozenges. I think it cost me about $50 to have it delivered from the US – well worth it.