Today’s post is going to be mainly about blood test results. But first … the weather!
The forecast cold weather hasn’t made it all the way down here to the Costa del Sol yet … obviously, if you look at the current conditions (at 9.30 pm) above. The wind has changed to a more generally northerly direction, though – well, more north west, but that’s generally where our cold weather comes from – so it must be on its way. It’s just a little delayed. The duvet is on the bed, and the cats’ blankets are all out in preparation for a sudden drop in temperature overnight.
Hopefully, it will kill the nasty little flies that are still hanging around.
My supplement pattern was a little odd today because I didn’t exercise – one Jarrow’s 5,000mcg methylB12 (half in the morning, half mid afternoon), two Swanson 500mcg B12 capsules – finally remembered what they’re called (at about 12pm when I got back from town, in the hope that they’d get rid of my headache), 2 Quest One-a-Day multivitamins (one morning, one evening), and the usual 30mg of iron bisglycinate before breakfast. I crumbled a bit more methylfolate off my current tablet to take before my Jarrow’s this morning, and that was probably the cause of the headache, which will be explained with the blood test results.
The B12 capsules didn’t get rid of the headache, so I took my preferred caffeine/ibuprofen/paracetamol combination about half an hour later, and that shifted it. Hopefully, with the new knowledge I gained today about what’s going on with my body, I’ll be able to start avoiding headaches in future.
And I skipped cross training this evening, which was very hard because I’m really starting to love it. I promised myself, if I took a rest day today, I can do an hour tomorrow! The allergic reaction was still bothering me when I woke up this morning, but it’s pretty much cleared now, so staying off the cross trainer was definitely a good idea.
And finally, here are the blood test results.
The first thing we can see here is that ferritin (which is my iron store) is very low. The range is 10 – 120, but the optimal level is about 80. It’s odd because I’ve been taking iron supplements, so it was either so low to start that it barely registered, or I haven’t been absorbing the supplements very well, or … well, I’ll come back to this theory in a moment.
The second thing is that folate (acido folico) is as high as it needs to be (17 is optimal). That methylfolate I’ve been taking could have been causing something called overmethylation, which could have been causing the headaches (much use of ‘could’ here because nothing is certain). In any case, I won’t be taking any more methylfolate for a while. I’ll stick with folic acid, which is water soluble and is just excreted in urine if it isn’t needed.
Finally (on this page), B12 is at the high end of the range, which means nothing in terms of the range itself because it doesn’t matter how high it goes. It does show that the B12 I’ve been taking has been getting into my blood, even if only a tiny amount might be getting to the cellular level. Without further tests, it’s impossible to know how much B12 is getting to the cells, and also how much of the serum B12 is active (probably less than 20%), but I knew that before I did it. The B12 test was mainly for the sake of curiosity. I wonder how much it cost me …
This is the full blood count, and it’s where it gets interesting. There’s only one thing that’s out of normal range on this page (lymphocytes), which isn’t relevant to B12 deficiency, and I also have a theory to explain why it’s out of range, which I’ll come back to later.
There are a couple of other things that are relevant to B12, and one of them is MCV (VCM) or mean corpuscular volume. This is one of the tests that’s used to diagnose anaemia. If it’s low, it’s an indicator of iron anaemia, and if it’s high, it’s an indicator of B12 or folate anaemia. Oddly, even though my ferritin result shows very clearly that I’m suffering from iron deficiency, the MCV result is normal. This suggests that something else must be pushing it up. We know folate is fine because it’s at a very good level even though I’ve barely supplemented it, which leaves B12, which only looks high because I’ve been taking massive doses of supplements. I take this to mean I’m suffering from iron and B12 deficiency.
Another thing that supports B12 deficiency is RDW or red cell distribution width being near the top of the normal range. High RDW is another sign of B12 deficiency.
And finally, on the topic of deficiencies/anaemia, platelets (plaquetas) are right near the top of the normal range, which is most likely due to iron anaemia.
I had to do a bit of research into lymphocytes (linfocitos) because they’re something I’ve never come across before, but it looks like the percentages are a bit skewed because neutrophils (neutrofilos) are towards the top end of the range. A high neutrophils percentage can be explained by steroid use, and since I take high doses of inhaled steroids for my asthma, that seems to explain it, and the high number of neutrophils leaves less room for lymphocytes. Nothing untoward and nothing to worry about.
So, that was 50€ well spent, I think. The overall results seem to confirm B12 deficiency, which is supported by my symptoms (and the way many of them have been relieved somewhat by B12 supplements) and also by my lifestyle and past experiences, as explained in this post. I’ve also discovered that my folate is fine and I’m suffering from an iron deficiency that needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.
The iron situation is interesting because I have been supplementing, but I’ve looked at several lists of foods that interfere with iron absorption, and it’s rare for me to go more than a couple of hours during the day without eating one of another of them! That might explain why my ferritin levels haven’t come up at all, so I’m going to try taking my iron supplement in the middle of the night (when I get up to feed Zack) to keep it away from food altogether. I’ll also find out if I can increase my supplement. With the iron supplement and the multivitamins, I think I’ve been getting about 45mg of iron a day, and I’ve seen supplements that go up to 65mg, so I think I could probably take more. I need to be careful, though, because iron isn’t like the B vitamins, and it can be harmful if you take too much of it.
I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about the B12. Probably carry on as I am for the moment, and see if raising my ferritin level helps the B12 to work better. B12, ferritin and folate all need each other, so higher ferritin levels may see a more dramatic improvement in my symptoms of B12 deficiency. I haven’t ruled out B12 injections, but that’s something I’ll need to explore more carefully rather than rushing into it.