I’ve been on DIY Soylent for 5 months now, and just got most of my blood results. I’ll share them here, along with some commentary. The good news is, they’re interesting, so we’ll have something to talk about
For most of those 5 months, I’ve used the following recipe: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aginfn56EnJmdEhZbF9fd1ZtaC12QXgzVm8wbTlYenc&usp=sharing
Here are the blood test results: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bwinfn56EnJmLTlTdEdoVWFmQ1U/edit?usp=sharing
The results are in Dutch, with European measurements. The units may differ from US blood tests.
So a few things are listed as out of their proper range:
Magnesium and Vitamin B6 are too high.
Total Cholesterol, Iron and Vitamin D are too low.
Iron, Calcium and Hemoglobin
So, let’s look at iron first. I have always had low iron, usually at the very low end of the normal range. This time however, it dipped slightly lower still. In addition, my calcium has risen as compared to 4 months ago, ending up at the high end of normal. This tells me that I am consuming too much calcium, and that this is inhibiting the uptake of iron. This also matches the Zinc and Copper concentration, both of which are at the low end of normal even though my intake of them has been >300% RDA. (I don’t take my supplements separately from my meal.)
The solution is obvious: Reduce my Calcium intake.
Why was my Calcium intake so high in the first place? Well, I got it from a pill that also had Magnesium and Zinc, and to get the optimal micronutrient ratios I needed to take a lot. In my new version, I have sourced separate powders for Zinc (acetate), Magnesium (citrate) and Calcium (citrate malate). This allows me to bring the Calcium supplementation down from ~1300 to ~500 mg/day and the Magnesium supplementation down from ~600 to ~300 mg/day. I could go even lower on the Magnesium while still retaining optimal ratios and also fulfilling RDA. This neatly solves the Iron problem, the Magnesium problem, and should bring Calcium, Zinc and Copper back into normal ranges.
Interestingly, my Hemoglobin is in the normal range. Were I iron-deficient, you would expect a reduced amount of Hemoglobin. In theory it is possible that I’m iron-deficient, and that I was a bit dehydrated during the test. This would result in a reduced amount of blood plasma, which increases the relative amount of Hemoglobin. To find out if this is the case, I’ve asked the lab to do a red blood cell count. With that, I can find out what the mean red blood cell size and the mean hemoglobin concentration per cell are. If those are lower than normal, then I was indeed dehydrated. If not, then my body has magically found out how to create enough Hemoglobin even though it’s low on iron. I’ll edit in results if the lab tests come back.
If it does turn out that my Hemoglobin is fine, then that puts me in an interesting position. You see, iron is a very strong oxidator, and is actually quite damaging to the body, despite being necessary. High iron concentration is strongly associated with mortality risk. So if my Hemoglobin is fine, then having low iron would actually be pretty good for my longevity! Currently I plan on bringing the iron back up, but only until the very lower edge of the normal range. Where it’s been all my life.
What else do we have? Vitamin D, yes, while I did adhere to the RDA, I don’t get much sunlight. Seeing as there’s no real risk, but a lot of potential benefit, I will be getting Vitamin D supplements and bring the supplementation up to, say, somewhere between 50 and 100 µg/day or so. Let me check examine.com real quick…
Ah yes. High Vitamin D supplementing may be associated with some health benefits, but there is some discussion about this. Funnily, examine.com states my blood result is in the normal range. Nevertheless, there seems to be no harm in increasing the supplementation, and possible benefit in doing so. So by Pascal’s Vitamin D Wager, I’ll go to 2000 IU/day, or 50 µg/day of Vitamin D3.
Then there’s Vitamin B6. This one surprises me a little; very high B6 concentrations are associated with neuronal problems, although that’s only from a lot higher than what I’m at. My intake has been around RDA and has been very far from the upper limit. It’s hard to reduce this without finding a different multivitamin, too.
The total cholesterol is low, but the LDL, HDL and triglycerides are all fine. Despite what you may have heard, the best indication for cardiovascular risk is actually the triglycerids to HDL ratio (ctrl+F cholesterol, links to 5 papers). This holds even if LDL varies. (The problem is that there’s two forms of LDL, a good and a bad one, and the blood tests usually don’t distinguish between them.)
So how much should the ratio be? I did some googling, and an untrustworthy source says below 2 is ideal. That’s in American units though, so converting my results, I get 71 mg/dL triglycerides and 47 mg/dL HDL, for a ratio of 1.51. Also known as Hot Damn that’s Healthy!
So no, I am not worried about a slightly low total cholesterol.
Although still in normal range, my creatinine is quite high and my Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is quite low. Normally this would imply a kidney problem, but in this case I know the cause. Two days before the blood test I started taking creatine supplements, starting off with 18 g/day for a week. Creatinine is what you get when you break down creatine. But what about the GFR? Well, in this case it’s actually GFR-MDRD, which basically means it’s not measured but simply calculated from my creatinine concentration, age, gender and race. If we wanted a “second opinion” on kidney function, we’d have to measure BUN. It’s not in my results, and I’m not worried enough to ask for it.
There’s one more thing that I found interesting in the results. My Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is up from what it was before; 2 years ago it was 2.1, now it’s 4.4, all the way at the top edge of the normal range. Strongly elevated TSH can point to hypothyroidism (which literally just means “not enough thyroid”) which could result in a lot of organ issues. My values wouldn’t count as “strongly elevated” though, but I asked the lab to run a test on T4 anyway. T4 is what the thyroid gland produces. That should shed some light on what’s going on.
Other things seem fine. γ-GT and ALAT are fine, which means my liver is fine. HsCRP is low which means I have low inflammation all around. White blood cells, platelets, both fine. Cortisol (stress hormone) is normal. Vitamins (the ones checked) are fine.
So, to conclude, what changes will I make to my Soylent?
As I mentioned, I’m reducing calcium and magnesium a lot. I’ll also add a Vitamin D supplement, and try to find a multivitamin with less Vitamin B6.
There’s also some changes not inspired by my bloodwork: I’ll try to find a multivitamin without chromium and manganese, since they were shown to be poisonous (chromium, manganese), and have no clear function. In addition, I’m adding a number of substances aimed at longevity and cognitive health, as well as creatine. Note that my choice of zinc acetate instead of other options should help reduce common colds. I may add probiotics.
I am dropping cinnamon since the amounts I was consuming carry cancer risk. I may consider adding artificial flavoring at some point.
My new version of Soylent will be visible here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aginfn56EnJmdGtwOUt5NGZzQmxfb2NKLUpGNEcydEE&usp=sharing
It’s still in flux a bit, but mostly settled down. Let me know if you have any comments on it. The image at the top is actually of the new version. The green color, besides being awesome, has a bunch of health benefits. It is caused by a few grams of spirulina.
I would like to shout out to WellnessFX for creating an awesome place to store my past and present blood tests, and for providing awesome videos that helped me figure everything out.
Fun fact: My Soylent contains, as a mandatory part, 100-250 grams of Classic potato chips. With its mere 3 ingredients of potato, sunflower oil and salt, it’s actually one of the healthier snacks available. The chips serves 3 purposes:
- I get to keep salt out of my Soylent entirely. Salt in the Soylent tastes horrible!
I chew. Chewing is really important for long term mortality risk reduction. [Halfway down, under “Floss”, they link to the relevant paper]See below for discussion.
- I can switch between something sweet (Soylent) and something savory (chips)
Thanks for reading, you’ve been a great audience if you’ve made it this far! Leave a message below!