How do labs help me meet my goals?

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.

Is my prescription medication causing other issues?

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.

What is my “root cause”?

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!

What supplements should I be taking?

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.

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