Are you getting your blood tested regularly? If you have been following my journey to veganism, you might know that my story started with a diagnosis. A diagnosis that my cholesterol was too high. So high, that I was informed by the visa authorities (I lived in NZ back then) that they had to look into my visa status again. At that point I had already been a vegetarian for a couple of years. But I would still eat lots of cheese and would have my 3 milky coffees every day.
The only way you could get cholesterol tested was at the doctors which was very time consuming and ate quite a bit of my small salary as a marketing assistant. And the test was by no means quick. But there wasn’t any other way to get a quick health test. But at the same time, I slowly started to understand how important it is to know what’s going on in your body and make sure your vitamin levels, cholesterol and iron levels are where they are supposed to be.
Ever thought about getting a blood test?
When I returned to Germany I turned fully vegan and stopped eating dairy all together. I spoke to my GP and got my first blood test. Surprise, my cholesterol level was normal to low and I felt great. But still as a fairly new vegan I was ambitious to eat super healthy and get all vitamins, minerals and fats covered.
One thing that I always struggled with is iron. Getting a good intake of iron is not the issue but iron is not absorbed well in combination with caffeine, dairy, etc. With the monthly period, women have naturally a lower iron level. And whenever I feel slightly sluggish and tired my iron levels are usually a bit low. But I with the test results I can now pump up my iron intake with heaps of spinach, beet root and pumpkin seeds. So I always advise you in general to get your blood tested once a year.
There are also independent labs that can do the testing. There are great tests to detect nutritional deficiencies like B12, Calcium, Iron, Complete Blood Count (CBC), Vitamin D-3, Folic Acid and Zinc (have a look at the full list here). This is great because you don’t have to wait for a GP appointment. Plus, from my experience not a lot of GP’s actually have a sufficient nutritional background to advise vegans properly.
Getting tests regularly has really helped me to analyze the nutritional needs of my body. It gives me the opportunity to adjust my food choices and to balance out nutritional deficiencies.
By the way, if you are wondering where you can take a test other than your GP, Health labs has a network of labs across the US. But I am also hoping they will make the jump over to Europe soon. Happy testing!