Posts Tagged ‘vitamin b12 and folate deficiency testing’

Why Am I Gaining Weight? Maybe It’s The Weather

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In many parts of the country, hibernating animals are busily preparing for the winter, eating and eating and eating as they build up the energy stores that will sustain them until spring. And many humans are doing something similar!

What happens during hibernation?

During hibernation, animals’ metabolism, oxygen consumption, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature all decrease to ensure that the animal burns as few calories as possible thus extending their energy stores. In this state of decreased metabolism, the animal’s body uses lipids (fatty acids) rather than carbohydrates to produce energy. During the hibernation period, an organism will lose about 40% of its body weight.

Can humans hibernate in winter?

As much as some humans might want to curl up in a ball and hibernate during the cold months of the winter, our bodies are not made to undergo the drastic metabolic changes necessary to enter a true hibernation. Many humans, however, do notice bodily changes associated with the drop in temperatures.
People who suffer from a specific kind of depression called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, often liken their condition to hibernation, and researchers have suggested that SAD is in fact a bodily reaction to the shorter daylight hours in winter. But unlike major clinical depression, where people typically lose their desire to eat and have trouble sleeping, people with SAD frequently sleep more than average and note an increase in their appetite and food consumption, often leading to weight gain.

Have you put on some extra “insulation” for winter?

As winter approaches, if you find you are putting on pounds, be sure to consult with your doctor. In addition to talking with you about a healthy diet and exercise, your doctor may want to run some blood tests to see if there is any cause for concern related to your weight change. Some of the tests your healthcare provider may recommend include:

  • Cortisol: Also called the “stress hormone” or the “fight or flight hormone,” cortisol increases adrenaline production in stressful situations. While it can benefit the body, increasing awareness and immunity as well as reducing pain in the short-term, too much cortisol on an ongoing basis can damage the thyroid, bone, and muscle. It can also decrease long-term immunity and contribute to the production of belly fat.
  • Homocysteine: A risk factor for heart disease, this protein is typically elevated in people with insulin resistance.
  • Insulin and Glucose: Those with diabetes do not produce sufficient insulin to process the body’s glucose. But high insulin is also problematic, causing the body to accumulate glucose as stored fat but not allowing the body to metabolize that stored fat for energy.
  • Liver Function:  If liver function is compromised, the body can struggle to remove hormonal waste and burn fat.
  • Testosterone: This hormone (found in both males and females) is responsible for sexual function and development, but it is also crucial for brain, bone, muscle, and vascular health, as well as fat dispersal.
  • Thyroid Tests: The “master gland,” the thyroid produces hormones that are crucial for healthy metabolism. If it is not functioning properly, the body will not be able to properly process food’s energy.
  • Vitamin B-12 and Folate (also known as Folic Acid): In order for the body to work effectively as a fat burner, insulin levels must be steady, and these are key ingredients for creating that stability.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency can cause the body to accumulate belly fat, as well as improperly process food. It is also a crucial element for bone health.

While there are many potential causes of weight gain, the results of these lab tests can help your healthcare provider assess the condition of your body and offer suggestions on the best approach to weight loss.

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through


Anemia – Low Iron

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What is Anemia?

Anemia is when your blood does not have enough hemoglobin or red blood cells.  Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen.

How Many People are Anemic?

Do you know that anemia is a problem that affects up to 25% of the world’s population and it is primarily caused by low iron intake from diet and or low iron absorption.

Iron is used for making red blood cells (hemoglobin synthesis) so it is a required element for a healthy body.  Many of our foods are fortified with Iron and therefore supplementation is not needed.  Additionally, it is recommended that you get your iron levels tested to ensure you are getting enough iron before supplementing with iron-rich foods or other supplements.

Foods that enhance iron absorption include vitamin-C-rich foods, and the addition of high-quality proteins in the meal. Foods that lower iron absorption include tannins (found in tea and coffee), calcium, milk and dairy products, phytates, and eggs.

If you wish to increase iron absorption for correct an anemia problem there are some simple dietary changes you can add:

  1. Add vitamin C to your meal : Orange juice, berries, red/orange peppers, tomatoes, etc.
  2. Eat high-quality protein in your meals such as fish, poultry, or soy
  3. Limit milk and other dairy products, and eggs.
  4. Limit high-calcium foods at meal time.
  5. Add plant-based sources of iron : leafy greens (spinach, kale, and broccoli), legumes (kidney beans, chick peas, lentils), whole grains, nuts, (walnuts, almonds), peanut butter, and raisins.
  6. Check your folic acid and B12 levels to rule out any deficiencies.

Take control of your health!  Special blood tests for anemia include : Complete Blood Count (CBC), Iron/TIBC, Ferritin, Vitamin B12/Folate.



Vitamin B12 and Folate Blood Tests

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What is Vitamin B12 and Folate?

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient from food we eat that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy.  It also assists with making DNA in our cells.  Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient to prevent anemia.

Folate is a water soluble B vitamin that is found in food and helps create and maintain cells including the DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells.  Folate is used to make red blood cells that prevent anemia and it is also essential for the metabolism of the amino acid, homocysteine.

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Why Would I Need a B12 and Folate Blood Test?

Vitamin B12 and folate blood tests are typically ordered when detecting deficiencies or to help determine the cause of certain anemias.  Malnutrition or malabsorption of these vitamins can stem from people that have

  1. alcoholism
  2. liver disease
  3. gastric cancer
  4. celiac disease
  5. Crohn’s disease
  6. IBS
  7. cystic fibrosis

If the body is not absorbing B12 and folate from the diet or insufficient amounts of these vitamins are not being ingested, then the blood lab test will indicate low levels.

Vitamin B12 and folate tests may be ordered along with a Complete Blood Count (CBC) and homocysteine so a physician can provide a correct diagnosis regarding any low test values that show a deficiency.

What Are the Main Causes of Low B12 or Folate?

  • Insufficient ingestion of foods that contain Vitamin B12 and Folate.  This is very uncommon, but it is more prevalent amongst vegans who do not consume any animal products, including milk and eggs.   Most cereals, breads and other grains are fortified, so even vegans will usually get sufficient intake.
  • Malabsorption occurs with conditions that interfere with the absorption of Vitamin B12 or folate in the small intestine.

What are the Symptoms of Low B12 Levels?

The most common symptom of B12 deficiency is anemia which is typically revealed in a simple Complete Blood Count (CBC) test.  Less severe symptoms include:
  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue
  • shakiness
  • unsteady gait
  • incontinence
  • low blood pressure
  • depression
  • cognitive problems (memory)

What are Symptoms of Low Folate Levels?

Low folate levels may take months before any signs or symptoms appear.  Additionally the symptoms are very general and therefore can be signs of other health issues or diseases.
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headaches and difficulty concentrating
  • Palpitations
  • Diarrhea
  • In the early stages, the tongue may be red and painful leading to a smooth shiny surface in the chronic stages of deficiency.

Testing for deficiencies is easy, safe and quick.  Get tested to see if you are at risk.

Take Control of Your Health.

Medical Disclaimer:  The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.  The writer is not a physician or other health provider.