Important clues in your blood work that is often missed.

Are you suffering from fatigue? Have you been told that you have low vitamin B12 or iron in your blood? What does this really mean? What might your hematologist or oncologist NOT know to tell you? Like why this is low, and what you might do to elevate them? Please don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing your doctor. I'm merely pointing out the fact that although he or she spent $200,000 and 10 years in medical school, what is sorely missing in the curriculum is nutrition and functional medicine. Ask them, they will tell you. This is why we need to move away from disease management towards prevention and an integrative functional approach.

I've spent the last few years studying applied functional medicine for coaches. You can see me in the video on the home page.  

So I'd like to share why you may be deficient in B12 and iron. More importantly, I want to empower you with education on what you can do about it.

First, always ask for a copy of your lab work so you can take it to a practitioner that will read it and explain it to you in practical functional terms. When I recently worked for a hematology/oncology clinic, I had on my desk the book, Your Blood Never Lies. Two fellow Nurse Practitioners noted this and said, "Why weren't we trained in this?" 

Unfortunately doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses are not trained in the wealth of functional markers in standard blood work. You will have to seek and find a functional nutritionist to help you; read on.

One good marker to look for in any complete blood count, CBC is the MCV, (mean corpuscle volume) measuring the size of your red blood cells. The red blood cells, RBC, carries oxygen to cells. This is essential for life.  RBC's that are too small don't carry enough oxygen; too big and they don't fit in the small capillaries like in the eyes and the kidneys. 

This is why your vision and kidneys are often the canary in the coal mine. if you've read my book you know that I no longer wear bifocals after decades of use. This is because I've learned how to maximize oxygen. Getting the right size RBCs is one way. Anything over 90 is too big to be optimal, and yet is still within normal limits on the test. This is why it is so often overlooked. 

Normal denotes the "mean average of those tested within a given population" in blood tests. It has nothing to do with optimal. Look around, obesity and chronic disease is epidemic. We need NOT to be normal. We need to create a new healthy normal. We need to assess for optimal levels.

I discovered that my RBCs were too big which suggests either B12 or folate deficiency. I've learned that I also have a genetic snp called MTHFR which affects folate metabolism. To compensate, I take a methylated folate and b vitamin complex every day. This is a simple solution that allows me to avoid brain fog and is essential for energy production and detoxification. This is essential for prevention of all chronic disease, including cancer and heart disease. This is a simple solution. I can tell the difference, so am happy to commit to this. I also notice when my night vision becomes impaired and or my vision begins to get blurry, I now recognize the need for more self care. More deep breathing, more relaxation, more yoga and supplementation, more green juice (again in my book, not the sugar laden ones in stores), and essential fatty acids to nourish cellular membranes.

MTHFR is a simple test to add on to the Spectracell Micronutrient test, one of several, that I recommend to clients.

Please note that folate and the synthetic version, folic acid are NOT the same. This is how you can tell a reputable vitamin company. Does your multi have folate in the form of methyl tetrahydrofolate or the cheaper synthetic folic acid? This is important, you can become toxic on folic acid, if you have an MTHFR snp. Lack of folate leads to miscarriages as well as trouble with energy production and impaired detoxification. Can you begin to see the power in nutritional assessment of your blood work? How missing these critical pieces can contribute to chronic disease and even misdiagnosis? 

There are several forms of vitamin B12. The most common is cyanocobalamin, which is a molecule of cyanide and cobalamin. This is the cheapest, most common form found in supplements. I don't think I need to tell you why you may NOT want to be taking cyanide every day in a supplement. The best supplement companies will have either methylcobalamin, or adeno or hydroxocobalamin, or a combination. Yes, purity and quality definitely matters when it comes to supplementation. A good nutritionist can help you with this too.

Also important to know, is that a serum B12 level does not tell you what is actually being absorbed into the cells. MMA or methylmalonic acid, is a functional marker found in an organic acids urine test, or can also be done as a blood test, or Spectracell Micronutrient test. These will all give you cellular or functional levels for your unique body. 

What food sources are rich in vitamin B12? This needs to come from animal sources. If you are vegan, you can get it from microorganisms in algae. Every body is unique and so are your needs. Some may get plenty from algae, some may need supplementation. A common root cause of low vitamin B12 in the cells is not enough stomach acid. You need HCL to cleave the b12 so it can be absorbed further down in the intestines. 

What is the major cause of low stomach acid? Stress. We live in sympathetic nervous system overdrive. Here's a picture from my book:

Stress decreases stomach acid. This impairs digestion starting in the stomach and inhibits absorption in the small intestines. Nutrition is not what you eat, it's what you absorb. You could be eating all of the right food but not giving your body the signal that it is safe to rest and digest, rest and repair, or mate and ovulate. Everything is interconnected. 

The FDA and AMA laws dictate that I cannot diagnosis, treat or cure any of the 14,000 (and growing) diagnosis codes that describe any human condition. What I AM allowed to do is to teach you how to become your own best clinician through education and coaching. Now I find that inspirational and empowering! I hope that you do too.

Carpe Diem!


June is the halfway point in 2017. Lots of opportunities for self care. This weekend in Northern Virginia is the Love Your Body Day Festival in Reston I wrote about last weeks blogpost and a PEMF demonstration in Alexandria. Also Golden Health Pharmacy in Sterling, VA will be having an Open House Saturday from 11-3pm with discounts, raffles, food and more!

About Lisa Jackson, RN, CHC, RYT-500, FDN
Lisa is an author, inspirational speaker and a coach with a mission to inspire others to feel and look their best at any age.

She is the former Executive Director of the Integrative Wellness Program for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Lisa's book, Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think and Thrive outlines her seven-step process towards optimal health that is fun and transformational.

Lisa is part of the New Self Health Movement and the Wellness Inspired Network. When she is not coaching, speaking or writing, you can find her practicing yoga and joyfully sharing Carpe Diem Dance.

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