Wednesday, September 4, 2013

MY VITAMIN B DILEMMA

I'm a vegan. To me that means many things. Mentally I feel good that I don't consume animal flesh. Physically I do not rely on meat to keep up my energy. Spiritually it feels great that I live by God's diet in Genesis 1:29, and I don't eat food that has been killed. Instead I eat food that falls off the trees, grows out of the ground and dies naturally so it can be eaten by us and animals.

Don't get me wrong, I don't judge meat eaters, not at all. I'm not one to push my beliefs on anybody and I certainly do not look down upon people who love meat more than veggies. Although many vegans avoid products made from animals, I do not. Even though I have strong convictions regarding no meat eating, I do wear leather, and products made from animals such as wool, silk and down. The way I see it is if the animal is being killed and eaten, then do not waste the skin. Salvage it and use it for something useful.
On the other hand I am very aware that many meat lovers judge vegans. Some meat lovers consider vegans too extreme. That's cool. I'm used to it. As a matter of fact my own doctor has her opinion too... well let's say she just doesn't get it, and she especially doesn't get it when my Vitamin B levels get low. She looks at me as if I'm crazy.

The first time we did tests and found out my V-B was low she was like "Here's a prescription. I want you to take these meds and boost your V-B."
That's when I looked at her as if she was crazy.  I said "Listen Doc, you should know me by now. I don't take meds. There has got to be another option that I can explore instead of taking meds."
She said "Well yes, you can get a V-B shot."
A shot!!! All of a sudden it become clear to me what my options were and none of them included meds or shots. One was to get a new doctor who was not so prescription ready or my second option was to take my V-B matters into my own hands and figure out a way to increase it.

I opted for number two. After thinking about my options I realized it may be too time consuming seeking a new doctor just because my current doctor believes in prescribing meds. Most Western doctors do, and that's how many of them increase their income. So I went online, and researched V-B enriched foods. Of course they were meat... it seemed at first. However, with further studying I stumbled upon the fact that herring and oysters had more V-B12 than beef.
Needless to say the seafood option appealed to me as a desperate attempt for a quick fix. I don't eat flesh at all, but in order to ease my worry I thought it wouldn't hurt to try.
I went to the grocery store and invested in a few tins of herring and oysters. I know canned foods are packed with sodium, which is something I stay away from, but again, it was just a quick fix. I wasn't trying to make a meal out of it, I was just taking a forkful every second day. To keep it real I really didn't notice a change at all. I started to wonder if these bottom of the sea dwellers were even working to boost my V-B.

Three weeks later I scheduled an appointment to see my Doctor. We did the battery of tests again. Bam! The herring and oysters worked like a charm. My V-B boosted so high my doctor was impressed. She said "Herring and oysters?! interesting. Well keep up the good work and we'll keep an eye on your V-B in the meantime."
So I had to ask. "Doc, I didn't feel any change in my body when I changed my diet. I wasn't even sure if the herring and oysters were working. How can I tell if my levels are low again?"
She said "Well if you start feeling dizzy, your memory starts fading or you begin to sleep more and also feel weak."

So I went home thinking about what she said. I didn't have those symptoms in the first place! Sure I had them after I got hit by a car in 2010 while I was walking in an intersection to cross the street. However, with gradual healing and physio therapy, those effects have subsided. Yes I live with ten screws in my arm and a very visible scar by my shoulder, a painful back whenever it decides to act up and every so often I have painful knees, because that's where the car bumper hit me, but the symptons she mentioned I was not having. Furthermre, she wasn't my doctor at the time I got by the car. So she didn't even know at one time I had those symptoms. By the way, I don't take meds for the pain. My faith and my yoga (to an extent) are my pain killers. But the V-B symptoms? They do not apply to me.

I started to wonder, if I didn't have the symptoms my doctor referred to then why was it such an issue to have lower levels of V-B than the average person. In reality the average person is a meat eater. Shouldn't their levels be higher than mine anyway?

I did some more research and found that a person can actually overdose on V- B! But get this, the side effects are not known yet. It is still under much study. So my question was, how does this Doctor know if she is overdosing me or not with her prescriptions. Don't get me misunderstand me, I'm not hating on her. She is an awesome individual, but just a little too handy when it comes to the prescription tablet. Me on the other hand, I abhor prescriptions just for prescriptions sake. Sure if they are necessary as a means of life or death then okay. Take them until you find an alternative route to health. Other than that I'm not cool with them. The side effects can sometimes cause reactions that are unknown to the manufactures of the drug itself.

Something about all this didn't sit well with me. first of all I wasn't comfortable eating the herring and oysters when I have been a vegan for most of my life. And secondly I felt fine before the blood tests revealed that my levels were low. So obviously I cut off the seafood and with further research I found that some veggies and fruits have V-B.

Did you know that green beans has vitamin B? Yes sirree. Here are the facts for one cup of raw green beans:
vitamin B3 3.6%
vitamin B1 5.3%
vitamin B2 5.8%
vitamin B6 7%
When first frozen and then cooked, retention of some B vitamins in green beans (like vitamins B6 and B2) can be as high as 90%? Yep. So needless to say I'm opting for the string beans. Raw, steamed, boiled, frozen, bring them on. They are my new best friend. Now I'm sure they will not raise my Vitamin B to the high levels preferred by my doctor, but commonsense should tell her that with me being a vegan she should never expect me to have the high levels of a meat eater.

Vitamin B 12 I will get occasionally when I eat cheese or the odd indulgence on seafood. After all I did develop a liking for kippered herring. The oysters are a different story altogether. In the future when I have gatherings I just might make a pâté or two, but seriously if they stayed in the sea it wouldn't make a difference to me. There is something not so nice about eating an oyster. Aside from how they look.

I will keep you posted on my next visit for my V-B update. I'll be checking it out in a few months. I'm aiming for a level slightly higher, but nothing close to the average meat eater.
If you are vegan who has low levels of V-B keep in mind that because of your diet you should never expect to have high levels or average levels of V-B, so do not panic. If you are experiencing symptoms then you may have to do something about it. Try the seafood option. If not then you may have to try cheese, or even eggs. Of course you will no longer be a vegan, and you will be more of a vegetarian, but at least you can preserve your health and still enjoy life. On the other hand you may opt for the shot. It's a matter of personal choice. I just don't like anything in my body that is not naturally given through food or liquid. Shot's and meds are way too overrated and although they may work at first most times there is an adverse effect.
Think of your options wisely before jumping into something just because the 'knowledgeable' doctor says it's the best resort.
~Cerise





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