Choosing supplements can be a daunting task. In my practice I often find that clients have been taking supplements that they do not need or are harmful to their bodies. With lab testing we may find that they are still deficient in specific nutrients, despite their supplement regimen. The most common deficiencies we find are vitamin D, B12, Folate, Magnesium, Iron and Protein, but supplementing without knowing your levels is dangerous.
Your need for supplements is dependent on factors, such as:
- Do you live where there is little sunlight and need extra vitamin D?
- Have you endured chronic stress that has depleted specific nutrients?
- Do you have genetic factors that prevent you from using inactive ingredients?
- Are you at a stage of life, disease progression or specific need of healing that requires temporary supplementation?
- Are you taking acid blockers or exhibiting poor digestion that prevents you from assimilating certain nutrients?
- What is the right dosage for your age, weight and medical history?
- Are you taking prescription medications that are scientifically proven to deplete certain nutrients essential to good health?
As you can see, these are important questions to ask. It’s important to remember that something that helped a friend or family member could be harmful to you.
The supplement industry is not well regulated, so over-the-counter supplements can be poorly created and even toxic. Third party testing has shown that there is no guarantee that the contents will match what is reported on the label. In general, purchasing supplements from a local health food store that supports reputable companies is a better choice for over-the-counter supplements. My clients take advantage of the Fullscript warehouse, which supports only high-quality, third-party tested supplements, often shipped free in 2-3 days.
Once my clients address their nutrient deficiencies, they can often narrow their supplementation down to a few supplements, while getting most of their nutrients from specific foods. As a clinical nutritionist, I can guide you down that path after reviewing your intake forms and discussing your situation through a telehealth consultation. Photos of your current supplements can be sent to me via your phone. It’s a wise investment that will save you from buying unnecessary and unhelpful supplements.
With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are asking how they can make sure their body is ready to handle this new virus and others. Although it is important to try to avoid catching and spreading viruses through proper hand washing and social distancing guidelines, you can increase your ability to fight off an infection with the following:
- Make sure your body is not deficient in vitamins C, D, zinc and probiotics. Getting proper forms of these is important, so work with me to learn more.
- Stay hydrated with 6-10 non-caffeinated drinks per day. These may include smoothies, herbal teas, soup and broths.
- Stay well-rested and counter your stress with scheduled time for stress-relieving activities. The immune system is hindered by stress and negative emotions. If you are a caregiver, see my online course to plan your path to staying healthy and balanced.
- Use essential oils such as lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary and others that are known for their antibacterial and antiviral qualities. Aromatherapy calms the nervous system, which helps boost the immune system.
- Increase cooking with spices such as onion, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, clove and ginger.
- Circulate fresh air into the environment by opening the windows when you can.
- Find ways to laugh and play. Human touch and laughing have both been shown to increase immune system function.
Its is also important to avoid the things that lower immune system function, such as:
- negativity including negative self-chatter, toxic people and media,
- alcohol and other toxins that burden the body and depress immune function,
- staying awake past 11:00 pm and over-exercising, which can stress the adrenals,
- and consuming food and beverages that cause inflammation (food sensitivities can be identified through testing).
Finally, if you suffer from chronic conditions that you believe lower your body’s ability to prevent disease, consider working with me to correct those conditions. Your body has an amazing ability to heal itself and fight disease, but we must first identify what your body needs to overcome it.
When I started nutrition coaching almost a decade ago, I didn’t have the ability to order labs and much of the planning was based on elimination diets and existing symptoms. We would often miss important information that would help with long-term success. Now as a functional medicine practitioner, we can pinpoint root cause through lab testing and specify imbalances in your personal biochemistry. Here is just a sample of what lab testing can do for you:
- Deficiency in nutrients such as vitamin D, iron, magnesium, B12 and zinc can explain so many conditions such as PCOS, chronic fatigue, muscle spasms/cramps, immune system deficiency, headaches/migraines and anxiety/depression.
- The solution to cardiovascular disease involves so much more than cholesterol. We need to see inflammatory markers, homocysteine and proper levels of B12, folate and other nutrients.
- The cause of thyroid hormone imbalance cannot be identified through the TSH screening test alone. There are many causes to thyroid issues such as antibodies, nutrient deficiency, excess cortisol, pituitary dysfunction (rare) and failure of the thyroid gland itself. In fact, there are 6 tests total that help define root cause.
- Intestinal issues are common root causes to many conditions. Yeast overgrowth, food sensitivities, leaky gut and excess inflammation can all be identified through blood tests. Triggers can be identified so we can correct and heal.
- The liver’s ability to metabolize toxins is essential to overall body function. Years of alcohol use, junk food, smoking and medications can burden the liver. Lab testing reveals any issues, so we can correct them and track progress in healing.
Often your primary care physician can order these lab markers for you, but are unable to get all of them due to insurance contract guidelines. I am happy to work with your physician’s labs or help you order your own labs. Keep in mind that every piece of information that we have or are missing determines how successful you will be. Because insurance companies consider such testing “exploratory” without a diagnosis, we cannot bill labs to your insurance company. However, some HSAs (health savings accounts) will reimburse you with a physician’s diagnosis and referral to me as a clinical nutritionist.
In my practice people often come to me with the problem of stubborn weight loss, despite workouts 5 days per week and a healthy diet. What used to work for them no longer works and frustration is high. The good news is that there is an explanation and it can be corrected. The bad news is that it can be one or many of the following reasons:
- Chronic stress causes cortisol levels to rise in the body. Cortisol not only tells the body to store fat, but blocks important hormones such as thyroid.
- Inflammation from food sensitivities, injuries and intestinal overgrowth such as Candida yeast leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases fat storage.
- Toxins from medications, chemicals, body care products, pesticides and plastics burden the liver. Without proper nutrients, the liver cannot metabolize them and stores them in fat.
- Chronic “yo-yo dieting” lowers the body’s metabolism and fat-free diets remove the building blocks to proper hormone balance and ability to burn fat.
- Toxins such as chlorine and fluoride reside in the thyroid where iodine should reside, causing hypothyroidism.
- Clients may unknowingly take supplements that are toxic or harmful for their specific body chemistry again causing inflammation and fat storage.
- Physical activity or the exercise routine may not be proper for the client’s current condition or stage of life, causing adrenal fatigue, high cortisol, low metabolism, injury or fat storage.
Correcting these issues can be as simple as discussing your medical history and lifestyle questionnaire with me. Keep in mind that as a functional medicine practitioner and clinical nutritionist, I will be looking at lab work through a different lens of what is considered a healthy range for meeting your goals. After an initial assessment and lab review, we will meet again to present your personalized plan to sustained weight loss and better health.
One of the first questions often asked when receiving a nutrition plan is about the timeline of results. This, of course, is dependent on what system we are trying to correct, how chronic the condition has been and the client’s ability to stick to the plan. Here is a general list of some common results:
- Balancing blood sugar will begin to change immediately. In some cases, we must monitor closely, because medications may need to be weaned as we see glucose readings getting lower.
- Correcting insulin resistance takes more time as the body generates new healthier cells given the right nutrients and conditions. Lowering cortisol levels and inflammation are an important part of the equation.
- Weight loss can be drastic in the first week, if inflammation (water retention) was a factor and identified inflammatory triggers are cut.
- Digestive disorders are dependent on the condition and length of time suffering. Bowel movements, pain, gas and reflux can be corrected within 2-3 days once triggers are identified. Yeast overgrowth takes a minimum of 30 days to correct, but can take months if the immune system is weak or condition has been long-term. Feeling better from intestinal damage such as Crohn’s, celiac disease and diverticulitis can take months or years, although improvement should be felt along the way.
- Bone and joint issues, such as osteopenia, osteoporosis and arthritis can take 6 months to a year to see results, given the right nutrients. If autoimmunity is a factor, such as rheumatoid arthritis, then the digestive tract (immune system) must be corrected and healed as well (6-8 weeks).
Although many factors decide the timeline of seeing results, the takeaway here is that the body does have the ability to heal itself given optimal therapies. Success is always dependent on the client’s ability to invest in necessary lab testing, proper nutrients and determination.
Some prescription medications have been shown to deplete specific nutrients in scientific research studies. This can often be the reason for side effects and new manifestations of symptoms, conditions or disease. The following list is just a handful of examples where this may happen:
- Some statins or cholesterol-lowering medications can deplete the body of CoQ10, an important nutrient for heart health, blood sugar management, cancer prevention, oxidative stress and more.
- Acid-blockers help with ulcers, reflux and heartburn, but we should ask why you need them in the first place and fix that problem. Proper stomach acid is not only natural, but necessary to assimilate nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron and protein. Blocking acid long-term can ultimately cause depletions of these nutrients and cause disease.
- Some anti-depressants deplete the body of building blocks that are essential to healthy neurotransmitter balance, such as tryptophan.
- Antibiotics wipe out the probiotic (friendly bacteria) population, causing an avalanche of issues affecting our digestion and immune systems. Our society’s sterile environment makes it hard to repopulate these essential organisms without supplementation.
- NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, etc.) and steroids when overused can cause breakdown in the gastrointestinal tract.
Mytavin is an evidence based database that allows you to enter the name of your prescription medication and calculate which nutrients have been proven to be depleted, along with the symptoms of deficiency. Each listing includes links to scientific references where the study results are published. If your medication is known to cause nutrient depletion, we can test you to verify how your body is doing and you will be empowered with this information. If you would like to supplement for those nutrients or solve the root cause of your condition, please reach out to me so I can help you. Always check with your doctor for approval and dosage recommendations.
As a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, you’ll hear me use the term “root cause” to explain how we need to address your condition. There are reasons for your symptoms and although prescription medications can relieve those symptoms, they typically do not address the reason why you have the condition. Through our conversation, medical history review and labs, I’ll help you pinpoint where things went wrong, so we can correct them.
Through this process, we may find where imbalances started, such as:
- a course of antibiotics that destroyed intenstinal health, leading to immune system dysfunction and digestive disorders,
- overuse of NSAIDs (pain relievers), steroids or other harmful medications, causing injury,
- emotional trauma or chronic stress that has depleted essential nutrients and caused neurotransmitter and hormonal imbalance,
- restrictive diets that over time caused serious nutrient deficiencies, loss of metabolism and energy,
- drastic change of life (menopause, birth of children, loss of sleep, overwork) that now requires a different plan to address.
Most of the time, root cause affects the digestive tract where nutrients (and toxins) are absorbed, the immune system resides and hormones make their important transitions. If we don’t address the cause, your condition could manifest into other issues, despite the fact that a medication has removed the symptom. We often think that we have multiple conditions when, in fact, these conditions are all tied to the same “root cause”.
Getting started is as easy as reaching out to me, so I can send you the proper intake forms. These forms will help paint the picture of who you are as an individual and assist me in identifying the problem. If labs are needed or available, we can take a closer look at your biochemistry and what you personally need in a nutrition and/or supplement plan. I look forward to helping you find the answers!