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Question
Posted by: Sebe | 2010/09/29

supplements

Dear Doc,

I saw a GP yesterday coz I''ve been having trouble breathing and I''ve been having tummy cramps and a burning sensation. He wanted to do blood tests to mainly check my iron and Vitamin B12 levels, but unfortnately my medical aid funds are depleted and he decided against it as it may be costly.

Anyway, so he prescribed altosec 20 and a change of diet to eliminate spicy food, caffeine, sour juices etc. for the tummy cramps.

He also prescribed a Vitamin B12 supplement but then changed it to Centrum. He said it''s very important for any vegetarian to take the supplement coz vitamin B12 is mostly found in red meat and lack of it can affect oxygen intake and use and leave me fatigued.

My concern is that, is it ok to take the supplement without doing the tests to ensure that it is vitamin B12 (and iron) that I am lacking. Secondly, centrum has other minerals that I may not need, is it safe to take it anyway? Thirdly, the %RDA on most of the minerals far exceeds 100%, the most extreme being 2500% (i.e. B12). Doesn''t this mean I''m taking way more than I need as I''m meant to take a pill everyday.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Sebe
It is always important to actually do blood tests to determine which type of deficiency you have so that it can be treated properly. If you are a strict vegetarian (no eggs, milk, etc) then it is, however, very likely that you are suffering from a vit B12 or an iron-deficiency anaemia which would explain your problems with breathing and tiredness. At this stage it is probably indicated for you to take high doses of vit B12 and iron because it can take quite a long time for the body stores of these nutrients to be replenished if they are depleted. The other minerals and vitamins in Centrum should not cause problems if you take this supplement for a month or so. If your symptoms do NOT improve after a month, then you must please see a medical dr again (save up for the tests in the meanwhile) because it is important that you get the correct diagnosis. Vegetarian foods that are rich in iron are maize meal and wheat flour and wheat bread (these are all fortified with iron), iron-fortified breakfast cereals and dried fruit. If at all possible try having at least 4 eggs a week.
Holding thumbs that you will feel better and stronger soon.
Best regards
DietDoc

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Our users say:
Posted by: DietDoc | 2010/09/29

Dear Sebe
It is always important to actually do blood tests to determine which type of deficiency you have so that it can be treated properly. If you are a strict vegetarian (no eggs, milk, etc) then it is, however, very likely that you are suffering from a vit B12 or an iron-deficiency anaemia which would explain your problems with breathing and tiredness. At this stage it is probably indicated for you to take high doses of vit B12 and iron because it can take quite a long time for the body stores of these nutrients to be replenished if they are depleted. The other minerals and vitamins in Centrum should not cause problems if you take this supplement for a month or so. If your symptoms do NOT improve after a month, then you must please see a medical dr again (save up for the tests in the meanwhile) because it is important that you get the correct diagnosis. Vegetarian foods that are rich in iron are maize meal and wheat flour and wheat bread (these are all fortified with iron), iron-fortified breakfast cereals and dried fruit. If at all possible try having at least 4 eggs a week.
Holding thumbs that you will feel better and stronger soon.
Best regards
DietDoc

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