Wednesday, September 20, 2017

B-12 Deficiency

I've been continuing down my health and wellness journey. It's a slow journey but a steady one! 

After visiting with a functional medicine doctor (I am in love with functional medicine, which focuses on the whole human and tries to incorporate research way more quickly than mainstream medicine), I decided to get some baseline blood work done. My functional medicine doctor wanted me to start a whole host of supplements and dietary changes (like no gluten), so I wanted to get baseline data to see if her recommendations actually had any impact. 

It was way more difficult than I thought to order blood work from my general physician. My general physician thinks my functional medicine doctor is a quack. 

I ordered as much as I could from my general practitioner, such as B-12, lipids, and some hormone stuff. 

My general practitioner reported everything back to me as "Normal." I found it odd that the normal range for B-12 was anything from 193-986. Honestly, it's counterintuitive that a range that large could all be normal. I did some quick research that seemed to indicate that the normal range for B-12 in Europe and Japan is much smaller than the range in the U.S. and that those countries/continents treat B-12 deficiency very seriously. 

My own level is 288, which is uncomfortably close to the bottom end of the range. So I am definitely going to start a B-12 supplement. Honestly, it made me very glad that Matt and I decided to let our sons eat meat from a young age (since they really wanted to), even though we are both vegetarians. 

I remember that one of you mentioned B-12 a very long time ago. I'm sorry I wasn't ready to hear you at the time! 

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Victoria said...

Good luck with the B-12! Why didn't your functional medicine doctor just order the blood work?

Olivia said...

I also found working with a FM doc to be a game changer! One thing mine explained to me -- which made so much sense once I heard it -- is that normal does not equal healthy, it just means the middle of the data set. That's why it changes so much population to population. (Which helped me understand why my endocrinologist in Korea viewed my thyroid levels so differently from my endocrinologists in the States.) He also added that the data sets are generally skewed further because the people who tend to have their numbers checked tend not to be the people who feel well. So glad you're working with someone who thinks more expansively.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Victoria!

My FM doc is so expensive! I wanted to go through something covered by insurance as much as possible.

Hi, Olivia! That is such an interesting perspective! Thank you for sharing!

ErinDoesLife said...

Hey Sara! Sounds like quite a journey. On the B12 thing - vegetarian parents allowing kids to eat meat is a very personal choice that is best left to parents, and it sounds like you made a decision you are very comfortable with, which is excellent. However, I want to dispel the idea that kids must eat meat to obtain adequate B12. We have been using vitamins and enriched food (cereal, soymilk) to meet B12 needs for our vegan toddler with our pediatrician's support, and it hasn't been a big deal. In fact, there's an argument that vegans who use B12 supplements (and they should) may have a leg up, because as we get older, people over age 50 become less efficient at absorbing B12 from animal protein and need to get in the habit of supplementing anyway. I strongly recommend checking out Ginny Messina (The Vegan RD)'s work on these issues - she is a proponent of evidence-based nutritional information.

aeep said...

Just wanted to note that "normal" on an analyte is not the same thing as average.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, ErinDoesLife! Thanks for the push! Every parent has to do what feels right to them. Our intention was to raise our boys in a vegetarian way, but Henry really wanted to eat meat. It was painful to feed him meat at the time, but in retrospect I'm glad we did because we weren't as informed as you and weren't supplementing with B-12.

Thanks for sharing Ginny Messina's work!

Plain Jane said...

A nutritionist shared with us that you actually absorb B-12 better in *small* doses, while most B-12 supplements have large ones. Our kids have good B-12 levels, no meat required.

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