Many vegans are surprised (and sometimes annoyed) when their GP refuses to carry out blood tests they’ve asked for. I thought I might write a little about this, and help to rationalise it from a GP’s point of view, but also give you some pointers on when you do need to see your doctor.
One important point I often like to make is that veganism isn’t a medical condition. I’m hoping that most of you will agree with me on this. We all know that veganism is a very healthy lifestyle when done right. Many meat eaters don’t consider their own nutrition to the level that we do, so in fact we may even be doing better than most.
Unfortunately, as you may or may not be aware, the NHS is in dire straits. GPs aren’t being funded enough money to do everything they would like for their patients. This means there are constraints on things like blood requests when you might not need them. So when do you need them?
Complaints that would prompt me, as a GP, to order blood tests for a vegan patient include:
- Feeling tired all the time
- Hair thinning
- Tingling or numbness in the feet or hands
- Generalised pains in the limbs
- Sore, swollen tongue
- Cracking/soreness in the skin at the corners of the mouth
- Getting lots of infections
- Shortness of breath or chest pains, particularly when exerting yourself
- Nail changes
- Persistent headaches
This list isn’t exhaustive, and if you are feeling unwell then you should see your doctor. Don’t be scared to tell your GP you’re vegan – they need to know if you’re at risk of deficiencies, as some can be more serious than others.
I plan to cover nutrients in a bit more detail at a later date, but please tweet/email via the website if there are specific topics you want me to cover.
Thanks for reading,
The Vegan Doctor