Nutrition Blood Test, from our experts to you.
Dr Sam Rodgers MBBS, MRCGP

Chief Medical Officer meet our doctors

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Can I get all the
nutrients I need from my diet?

Most balanced diets provide us with all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need without needing supplements. But, even with the best intentions, not everyone eats as well as they could all of the time. You may eat a healthy diet but restrict certain food groups which can leave you deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. For example, if you eat a plant-based diet, you may be more prone to vitamin B12 or vitamin D deficiencies. 


What can I learn
from a nutrition test?

With our Nutrition Blood Test, you’ll find out whether you need to include more vitamins and minerals in your diet or whether you might benefit from a supplement.


What's included in
a nutrition test?

Our home Nutrition Blood Test includes vitamin D and active B12 as well as ferritin and magnesium. It also contains a complete cholesterol profile, with a breakdown of LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol, as well as a marker for inflammation (CRP-hs). These markers are helpful as your diet can influence them.


What's included?

Cholesterol status
Inflammation
Iron status
Minerals
Vitamins
Select profile for more information

Total cholesterol Cholesterol is an essential fat (lipid) in the body. Although it has a bad reputation it has some important functions, including building cell membranes and producing a number of essential hormones including testosterone and oestradiol. Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and also comes from the food we eat. Although there are a number of different types of cholesterol, the two main components of total cholesterol are HDL (high density lipoprotein) which is protective against heart disease and LDL (low density lipoprotein) which, in high levels, can contribute to cardiovascular disease. Your total cholesterol result on its own is of limited value in understanding your risk of heart disease; high levels of HDL cholesterol can cause a raised total cholesterol result but may actually be protective against heart disease. Equally, you can have a normal total cholesterol level but have low levels of protective HDL cholesterol. The most important factors are how much HDL and LDL cholesterol you have, and what proportion of your total cholesterol is made up of protective HDL cholesterol. We give a detailed breakdown of the components of your total cholesterol in the rest of this cholesterol profile.
LDL cholesterol LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) is a molecule made of lipids and proteins which transports cholesterol, triglycerides and other fats to various tissues throughout the body. Too much LDL cholesterol, commonly called 'bad cholesterol', can cause fatty deposits to accumulate inside artery walls, potentially leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Non - HDL cholesterol Your total cholesterol is broken down into 2 main components; HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad). There are more types of harmful cholesterol in your blood than just LDL - these include VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins) and other lipoproteins which are thought to be even more harmful than LDL cholesterol. Non-HDL cholesterol is calculated by subtracting your HDL cholesterol value from your total cholesterol. It therefore includes all the non-protective and potentially harmful cholesterol in your blood, not just LDL. As such, it is considered to be a better marker for cardiovascular risk than total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The recommended level of non-HDL cholesterol is below 4 mmol/L.
HDL cholesterol HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) is a molecule in the body which removes cholesterol from the bloodstream and transports it to the liver where it is broken down and removed from the body in bile. HDL cholesterol is commonly known as 'good cholesterol'.
Total cholesterol : HDL The cholesterol/HDL ratio is calculated by dividing your total cholesterol value by your HDL cholesterol level. It is used as a measure of cardiovascular risk because it gives a good insight into the proportion of your total cholesterol which is good (i.e. high-density lipoprotein HDL). Heart disease risk tools (such as QRisk) use the cholesterol/HDL ratio to calculate your risk of having a heart attack.
Triglycerides Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) that circulate in the blood. After you eat, your body converts excess calories (whether from fat or carbohydrates) into triglycerides which are then transported to cells to be stored as fat. Your body then releases triglycerides when required for energy.
hs - CRP C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is an inflammation marker used to assess whether there is inflammation in the body - it does not identify where the inflammation is located. High Sensitivity CRP (CRP-hs) is a test used to detect low-level inflammation thought to damage blood vessels which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. When you suffer a serious injury or infection you experience significant inflammation around the site of injury - such as the swelling around a twisted ankle. Any injury like this will cause your CRP-hs to rise.
Ferritin Ferritin is a protein which stores iron in your cells and tissues. Usually, the body incorporates iron into haemoglobin to be transported around the body, but when it has a surplus, it stores the remaining iron in ferritin for later use. Measuring ferritin levels gives us a good indication of the amount of iron stored in your body.
Magnesium - serum Magnesium is found in fibre-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, wholemeal bread and brown rice as well as in fish and meat. Excess magnesium exposure can cause breathing problems, skin and eye irritation, flu-like symptoms and an upset stomach. Low magnesium can cause muscle aches and pains, fatigue, osteoporosis, an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. Low magnesium is associated with heart disease, artherosclerosis, stroke and diabetes.
Vitamin B12 - active Vitamin B12 is important for production of red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. B12 is also involved in metabolism and the nervous system and prolonged lack of vitamin B12 may cause nerve damage. Although Vitamin B12 is almost entirely found in animal-based foods, many vegetarian and vegan products, especially plant milks are now fortified with Vitamin B12.
Vitamin D Although called a vitamin, vitamin D is actually a hormone which is activated by sunshine on your skin. Vitamin D is essential for bone strength as it helps your intestines absorb calcium. However, it is thought that vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function, as well as in many chronic diseases and mental health. Many people in the UK have low levels of vitamin D with symptoms including muscle weakness, mood swings and fatigue. People who have dark skin, as well as those who don't spend much time outdoors are particularly at risk of low vitamin D. Small amounts of vitamin D can be obtained from food, especially oily fish, eggs and any food which has been fortified with vitamin D. If you are deficient in vitamin D you are unlikely to be able to improve your levels by food alone.

How to prepare
for your test

Special instructions

Prepare for your Nutrition Blood Test by following these instructions. Take this test when any symptoms of short-term illness have settled. Avoid fatty foods for eight hours before your test, you do not need to fast. You should take this test before you take any medication or vitamin/mineral supplements. Do not take biotin supplements for two days before this test, discuss this with your doctor if it is prescribed. Do not take vitamin B12 for two weeks prior to this test. If your B12 is prescribed ask your doctor whether to stop.


Frequently asked questions

Why have a blood test as a vegan?

Blood tests can help you to monitor your health as a vegan or vegetarian to make sure you’re getting enough of the right nutrients or identify any health conditions.

Having a blood test can help you monitor how diet changes impact your health, check you are getting the right vitamins and minerals, and observe the effects of supplementation.

What deficiencies are vegans more prone to?

If you are following a plant-based diet, there are some important biomarkers you may need to keep an eye on to make sure you are getting adequate levels.

Key biomarkers for vegans:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Ferritin (your body’s iron stores)
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega 6:3 ratio

Do vegans have lower cholesterol?

Unhealthy cholesterol profiles are a risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.

Our veganalysis shows that, on average, people following a vegan diet have 15% lower non-HDL cholesterol (the more harmful stuff) and lower total cholesterol levels (9.93%) than people following an omnivorous diet. Non-HDL cholesterol levels in early middle age are associated with heart disease in later life.

Can vegans get enough iron?

You can get all the iron you need from a vegan or plant-based diet.

Plenty of plant foods contain a good amount of iron, including lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, dried apricots and figs, raisins, quinoa, and fortified breakfast cereal.

Learn more about plant-based diets and nutrition, including what to monitor when eating a plant-based diet.


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