Nutrition Blood Test, from our experts to you.Dr Natasha Fernando MBBS, MRCGP
Can I get all the nutrients I need from my diet?
What's included in a nutrition test?
What can I learn from a nutrition test?
How to prepare for your test
Frequently asked questions
What’s the difference between vitamins and minerals?
Vitamins and minerals are different types of micronutrients, which are both essential for your health in tiny (or micro) amounts.
Vitamins are organic compounds, which means they're made by plants and animals. Most vitamins are easily absorbed as they dissolve in water. Some vitamins, like vitamin D, dissolve in fats, and are better absorbed with high-fat foods. Many vitamins are heat-sensitive, so they may be broken down during cooking.
Minerals, on the other hand, are inorganic substances found in the earth and rocks. They're also found in food, but they’re not produced by living things and aren’t broken down as easily as vitamins.
What are the symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiencies?
When your body is not getting enough micronutrients, you may start to experience vitamin or mineral deficiency symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue.
Low levels of iron, vitamin D, or vitamin B12 can make you feel tired all the time. But each micronutrient deficiency also has its own specific symptoms. For instance, a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause pins and needles, mouth ulcers, and blurred vision, whilst an iron deficiency can leave you feeling dizzy and short of breath.
As many of these symptoms are common to several conditions, a blood test can help you pinpoint the cause.
A varied and balanced diet usually provides you with enough vitamins and minerals for optimal health, but deficiencies can still occur for several reasons. These include poor absorption of nutrients (for example, if you have coeliac or Crohn’s disease), drinking lots of alcohol, taking certain medications like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and being pregnant.
What causes vitamin and mineral deficiencies?
Am I more at risk of a vitamin or mineral deficiency if I follow a plant-based diet?
No, you’re perfectly capable of getting enough nutrients from a plant-based diet, with the right planning. For instance, it can be more difficult to maintain healthy iron levels if you follow a plant-based diet, as plant-based sources of iron are harder for your body to absorb. But there are plenty of plant-based foods that contain a good amount of iron, including lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, and kale.
If you follow a plant-based diet, you may need to check you’re getting adequate levels of several essential vitamins and minerals including:
- Vitamin B12
- Omega 3 fatty acids