Vitamin deficiency not under NHS

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I had a doctors appointment yesterday as I'd been struggling with a cold for over 2 months and feeling anxious on top of it and generally unwell. I asked whether I could have a vitamin deficiency and was told the NHS don't deal with vitamin deficiency. Is this true? The doctor said it was up to each individual if they wanted to take supplements but I asked how I was supposed to know what to take. I was a bit taken aback as surely vitamins are fundermental to general health and wellbeing. I'm left feeling that either this doctor was wrong or the NHS is under the power of pharmaceutical companies which know if people were healthy they wouldn't need their drugs? Can anyone advise me on whether I was misinformed or not? 

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  • Posted

    You will get all the nutrients and vitamins you need if you eat a good balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg and animal protein. If you are veggie you need to be a bit more careful and be sure you include sources of B vitamins, even more so if you are vegan.

    If you were demonstrating any symptoms of B12 deficiency in particular then the NHS DOES do something about that, they should test your blood levels and provide injections if it turns out you have a deficiency there that is due to you not absorbing it. The same applies to vit D deficiency, they should check your blood level - to the NHS the test costs about £25 or less. If it is very low the GP should prescribe high dose supplements to raise the level reasonably fast but many either don't know or won't and tell patients to go and buy some. Vit D isn't particularly expensive but both very low and very high levels are not good for you - the doctor needs to check it first. You can get a vit D test done privately for about £28 if your doctor refuses - google City assays vitamin D blood spot test to get the web site and all the info, they do NHS testing too so are reliable.

    But the NHS wouldn't give you general vitamin supplements unless you had a specific need because of illness because they aren't really a medical essential for every day life - you have to take some responsibility for your diet. Sounds to me as if your doctor felt you were wasting his time going to him for what her perceived to be a cold and thought you were asking for a prescription for the vit tablets you can buy OTC at any chemist. And if the NHS coughed up to supplement people's poor diets they'd be in an even worse financial state than they are at the moment!

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    • Posted

      Thank you for the information. The doctor has sent me for blood tests so that may include the B12 deficiency. It was just the way she said it made it sound a bit odd to me. She didn't say anything about testing for these vitamins but seemed to suggest that the NHS don't test for any deficiency. If she'd put it the way you have that would have made more sense. I wouldn't normally go to the doctors with a cold but it was the length of it and the other symptoms I was feeling that caused me to go. I'm also supposed to be coming off some other medication and didn't want to do that while I was feeling so rough. 

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    • Posted

      Lots of doctors don't do too well in the communication department I'm afraid! Really should be part of the training - and be examined! They often assume everyone sees things the same way they do - and don;t sound sympathetics about it even when they could be. 

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    • Posted

      What sort of diet do you have?

      Testing for B12 and Folate (B9) are not always automatically included in even a "Full Blood Count" (FBC) and whilst your Iron levels will be tested it needs B12 and Folate to make healthy red blood cells.

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  • Posted

    The majority of vitamin blood tests outside of vitamin d, b12, folate are extremely expensive and fairly rare that anyone suffers from them. Sometimes colds take a while to clear but sometimes it can indicate there is something that may be improved in the body. For example zinc, vitamins and echinacea can help with a cold or a multivitamin can help boost you're levels. Go back if you still feel unwell after supplementing in a couple of weeks and ask for a full blood panel to rule out anything nasty. 

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  • Posted

    Hi Sarah,

    What a shame you were met with this type of unhelpful response from the GP. A cold for two months is a long time and you were looking for an answer and sounds like that was blanked. A blood test is the way to see if you have a vitamin, or mineral, deficiency. From my time on here I have seen constant reference to people being tested and treated for deficiencies.

    Ask for a test to see if you're deficient. Can you see a different GP at your practice if they are still unhelpful?

    Beverley

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    • Posted

      Hi Beverley, thank you for your sympathy. She has referred me for blood tests for my thyroid, so it wasn't a waste of time. I was just a bit shocked at her statement about vitamin deficiency not being part of what NHS do. I'll see what the blood tests turn up and how I feel in a few weeks and I may make another appointment. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Sarah,

      Glad it wasn't a waste of time completely. It does seem an odd thing to say unless she wasn't really understanding what you were saying. Hope you start to feel better sooner rather than later. My son recently had a cold that wasn't shaking either and he 's generally the one who doesn't get I'll. Some viruses can take a while but, you're right to question if there's an underlying cause.

      Good luck and let us know the outcome

      Beverley

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    • Posted

      The NHS will prescribe for vitamin deficiency in certain cases, I have been given Folic Acid in the past. As Eileen says they are not going to give vitamin supplements out willy nilly, which is possibly what your doctor was trying to say although not very well. A decent well balanced diet is often better for you than spending money on supplements that boost up the suppliers profits and give you expensive pee.

      I hope your thyroid test goes well.

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    • Posted

      Hi,I got a folic acid test and vitaminD test on the NHS but I think you would have to go privately for other vitamin tests. I did get a funny look when I asked for vit D test though.
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    • Posted

      My local pharmacy was doing free vit D tests a while back, which I thought was a good idea to sell supplements!

      B12 is quite often given on the NHS. I must admit I think I have also had potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium.

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