Lab Update (Including Lipids and B12)

I live in Arizona, where Sonora Quest Laboratories, allows some labs to be ordered by the patient. Insurance does not cover these labs, but I find them to be relatively inexpensive to order and nice to have in hand to take to my doctor so we can discuss the results right during the appointment. Then if the doctor sees anything amiss, further tests can be ordered.  I REALLY like that Sonora Quest offers this service!

Recently, (March 14th to be exact) I ran the Women’s Complete Health Profile, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, CBC and Urogram. You can check out the patient ordered lab tests here on the Sonora Quest website.   (I always discontinue any vitamin or mineral supplements two days before a lab draw to get a more accurate reading of what is going on with my body.)

I took the results to my cardiologist for discussion, and will also take the results to my Primary Care Physician (PCP) soon.

My Vitamin D was good at 31.8. This is taking about 670 IUs a day. I primarily get my Vitamin D from the Women’s Complete Smarty Pants Vitamin (I take 2 a day),  and from the Jarrow Bone-Up Supplement (I take 2 a day) and the Jarrow Mineral Balance Supplement (I take one a day). I added in the Bone-Up and Mineral Balance supplements to hopefully help my bones increase in density, or at least stay the same as I get older.

My Vitamin B12 has risen nicely from 319 pg/mL in August 2016 to 795 pg/mL now. This is from taking 33 mcg per day. If I take much more than that, I end up with cystic acne on my face. Not a pretty sight!

It is difficult to find that small amount of Vitamin B12 in a supplement that doesn’t have artificial ingredients. I found that taking 2 of the Women’s Complete Smarty Pants Vitamin gave me that amount of B12. (The recommended dose is 6 gummies a day, but that would give me too much B12!) I may cut back to one gummy a day which would still give me plenty of B12 now that my levels have normalized.

I recently bought Nature’s Plus Animal Parade Vita Gels and will see if I can tolerate these. (There’s a lot of food and supplements that don’t work for me!) These vitamins have more Thiamin and Riboflavin in them than the Smarty Pants Women’s Vitamin (which has very little) and my diet can be low in those two vitamins on occasion. (I use the Cron-o-meter to check my nutrient intake about once a month.)

One of the lab results that came back outside of the reference range was the Urine pH. It was 8.5, with the reference range of 5-8. I suspect that is because I eat pretty much only plants for my food, and plants make the urine more alkaline. (See this article on the Alkaline Diet for more info if interested.) I will of course discuss this with my PCP.

Finally, and this is good news for me,  my cardiologist is satisfied with my improved lipid levels. In October 2015 my Total Cholesterol (TC) was 229, LDL was 139. At the time I was eating fish, macadamia nuts and olive oil. Those results got me a frown from my cardiologist and a recommendation to change what I was eating.

So, I cut out the fish, nuts and olive oil and ended up in March of 2016 with a TC of 166, and a LDL of 99. My TG (triglycerides) were 108 (up from 40 in October) and my LDL was 45 (down from 82 in October.) Overall I was happy with those results. At least I knew that by eating primarily vegan, very low fat I could change my lipid levels.

I continued eating that way (vegan low to no added oil) and so was shocked to see my labs worsen substantially by August. My TC went to 189, my TG were 147 (highest ever), my HDL 39 (lowest ever) and my LDL 120! I was shocked to have worsening lipid levels eating so healthfully! You can read more about it in this blog post if interested.

What seemed to cause the difference in my labs between March 2016 and August of 2016 was the addition of fruit (particularly melons since it was summer), dates and short grain brown rice. Those foods have a higher glycemic index (GI) and in some people (apparently me) it can mess with your lipid levels.

I cut back on the fruit, cut down on the dates (I still eat one a day because I am rebellious), and I eat long grain or Basmati brown rice instead of short grain brown rice. I do eat some olive oil since I can’t seem to eat nuts or seeds without problems and I want some fat in my diet so I can better absorb the fat soluble nutrients.

The March 2017 labs showed a TC of 169 (down from 189), TG of 116 (down from 147), HDL of 42 (up from 39) and LDL of 104 (down from 120). My C-reactive protein (high sensitivity) was .3 and my blood pressure at the cardiologist’s office was 92/60. While I’d like my lipid levels to be a bit better, I’m just not willing to eat less fruit (I eat about 1 1/2 pieces a day) or cut out my one date a day. My cardiologist said my risk of having a cardiac problem was very low, so I’ll go with that. With my many food intolerances and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I certainly have other health issues to try to solve.

You might wonder what I eat now. I eat long grain brown rice (seems to be the only grain I can tolerate), sweet potatoes (orange, yellow, Japanese, and purple), many kinds of vegetables (but not too many in the nightshade family),  legumes (but limited amounts of soy), small amounts of fruit, and olive oil (less than a tablespoon a day).

Changing my diet has helped my labs (and apparently given me a higher urinary pH). So if you need to improve your lipid levels, take heart (oh an unintended pun) :-), it can probably be achieved via a dietary change. Just be aware that even eating whole foods, only plants may not be enough, you might have to consider the type of plants you are eating (their glycemic index).

Happy, healthy eating to you!!!

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