When people find out that I’m mostly raw vegan, it’s amazing how many of them ask where I’m getting all of my nutrients. They themselves are often on the Standard American (SAD) diet eating lots of processed foods, meats, coffee, and sugary drinks while I’m eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I don’t get it, shouldn’t I be the one asking them that question?
It’s true that many vegans are also eating a lot of processed junk foods, but if you have been following Young and Raw for a while, you already know the benefits of eating lots of fruits and veggies. And even if you follow a very healthy diet, you might still be wondering if you are deficient in any nutrients and if you should be adding supplements to your daily regiment.
What I Learned At Hippocrates About Supplementation
This is the beginning of my 4th week at Hippocrates Health Institute and the first thing that every guest does when they arrive is to get a blood test. It is then followed a few days later by a consultation with one of the directors or nurses.
In my opinion, that is really the only way to see what each person is deficient in so that an individualized protocol can be written up. There is no guesswork on whether someone is low in a certain nutrient. The answer is right in front of them.
Overall, my blood tests looked good, but during my consultation, Nurse Tom pointed out to me that my Iron was low, so he recommended that I take an Iron Supplement, as well as eat more lentil sprouts. He also said to take some digestive enzymes before each meal (especially cooked foods) to help deliver the nutrients to my body.
What About B12?
They don’t test for vitamin B12 because they recommend that everyone take a bacterial supplement of B12 daily. Over the years, they have conducted many tests and have found out that half the general population lacks an adequate supply of this nutrient. And that goes for meat eaters too. They believe that consuming animal foods does not provide a digestible and complete form of this nutrient.
In his book Supplements Exposed, Brian Clement, the Director of Hippocrates, writes, “When you lack this nutrient and red blood cells cannot carry oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, you may develop anemia. Your brain becomes the first target when B12 is in deficit, with memory loss and even Alzheimer’s as a consequence. Your nervous system also requires B12…and it helps turn the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in food into cellular energy.”
Are All Supplements Created Equal?
With all of the supplements on the market, you might be asking yourself what kind of supplements should you be buying. That’s a good question, because not all supplements are created equal. You will want to look for whole food supplements because they will actually be made out of whole foods and won’t contain any fillers. Here at Hippocrates, they have their own trusted brand LifeGive, but there are many other good brands out there and you can read the labels or ask someone at your local health food store for more assistance.
Supplements Can Be Beneficial
After leaving my consultation, I felt really good about what nutrients my body needed and how supplementation can help my body assimilate the food I’m eating more efficiently.
I’ve always believed that getting your blood tested for deficiencies is really the best way to keep track of how your health really is because there isn’t any guesswork involved. I usually get tested once a year to also see if the supplements that I’m taking are working or not. Because they can be pricey, you wouldn’t want to take anything that you don’t need.
Steps for Getting Your Blood Tested
Here at Hippocrates Health Institute it’s pretty easy to get your blood tested because they do that for all of the guests during their first week, but if you do not get a chance to come and spend some time here, there are certain steps you can take to get your blood tested where you live.
- If you have health insurance, you can ask your doctor to prescribe the blood tests for you. This is the easiest and most economical way. I personally see a physicians assistant / nutritionist who sends me a prescription for a blood test. I bring it to a lab, have my blood taken, and then wait about a week for my nutritionist to call me with the results.
- If you don’t have insurance, or want to pay out of pocket, you can order tests from www.directlabs.com. You just order the tests online and then go to a lab to get them taken. Either way I definitely recommend that you meet with a qualified health practitioner to go over the results. You will also want to make sure that the tests you are ordering include numbers for vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium, Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Iron, which might be lacking in a vegan diet (or any diet for that matter).
If you want more information on what tests to order and how to read them, I also highly recommend Kevin Gianni’s Program: Blood Test Pack: The Complete Blood Test Blueprint Program and How to Read Your Blood Tests. I had ordered the Complete Blood Test Blueprint Program a couple of years ago and found it really helpful in seeing what the optimal numbers are for each test. He has added to it since and now it looks even better, helping you to determine exactly what supplements are beneficial for you and how to bring your levels back to normal.
Marisa holds a BA in Psychology from The University of Massachusetts, a Masters in Education from NYU and she is a graduate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.