Vitamin A Benefits, Deficiency and Foods

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What is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays major roles in maintaining vision, neurological function, healthy skin and immunity.

There are two forms that Vitamin A can exist in: Plant forms and Animal Forms.

The plant form consists of a collection of compounds known as “carotenoids” and the animal form is known as retinol.

Humans do not require the plant form (carotenoids), but do need the animal form (retinol).

What’s important here is that humans can convert carotenoids into retinol; as long as the body is functioning optimally.

Speaking of carotenoids. There are over 600 different carotenoids and not all of them act like Vitamin A.

For example, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, both help to protect us from blindness as we age, but they don’t act like vitamin A in the body.

Lycopene is another carotenoid that may protect us against prostate cancer and heart disease, but again, it doesn’t act like vitamin A in the body.

Only 10% of carotenoids act as vitamin A, and these carotenoids are called “provitamin A carotenoids”.

The ‘pro’ just means that the body can convert them into retinol (the active form of Vitamin A).

Vitamin A Benefits

Top 10 Benefits of Vitamin A include:

  1. Eye Health
  2. Supports Immunity
  3. Decreases Inflammation
  4. Healthy Skin
  5. Cancer Protection
  6. Bone Health
  7. Cholesterol Reduction
  8. Reproduction and Development
  9. Tissue Health & Repair
  10. Kidney Stone Prevention

1. Eye Health

Vitamin A helps to boost vision, keep your eyes moist, signals the brain that its daylight and even helps to improve night time vision.

2. Supports Immunity

Another interesting function of vitamin A is that it supports the tiny hairs lined up within your throat and lungs which catch all the junk and little microbes that you breath in and out.

One study found that vitamin A deficiencies were associated with weakened immune function [1].

Another study found that by simply giving vitamin A supplements to children, over $340 million in medical costs could be reduced due to medical conditions [2].

In addition, A Cochrane review of eight randomized controlled trials of treatment with vitamin A for children with measles found that 200,000 IU of vitamin A on each of two consecutive days reduced mortality from measles in children younger than 2 and mortality due to pneumonia in children [3].

3. Decreases Inflammation

One of the biggest benefits of vitamin A is it’s ability to act as an antioxidant in the body, helping to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation [4].

And because inflammation is at the heart of all chronic disease, maintaining adequate levels of vitamin A could help prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.

4. Healthy Skin

Vitamin A is often prescribed by dermatologists to fight acne, wrinkles and various skin conditions. Several studies show that retinoids may be therapeutic for skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne [789].

5. Cancer Protection

A growing body of research is now demonstrating the strong links between the food you eat and your risk of developing cancer [10].

According to a review published in BioMed Research International, retinoids have been shown to block the growth of skin, bladder, breast, prostate and lung cancer cells in in vitro studies [11].

But before you go and swallow a ton of vitamin A, appreciate the fact that the best way to get vitamin A is from food sources.

6. Bone Health

We all know that bone health requires nutrients like calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K.

But did you know that vitamin A plays a critical role in bone health?

Hitting just the right balance of vitamin A is essential, however, as both an excess and deficiency in this important vitamin have been linked to compromised bone health [12]. 

One study conducted at the Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics at the University of Perugia in Italy even found that plasma retinol levels were significantly lower in elderly women with osteoporosis compared to a control group.

The results also showed that low levels of retinol were associated with reduced bone mineral density in the femur [13].

7. Cholesterol Reduction

An animal model found that total cholesterol was reduced in rats who were given beta-carotene, the plant form of vitamin A, over a course of six weeks [12].

Another study found that a vitamin A deficient diet accelerated atherogenesis, the formation of plaque in the arteries of mice [13].

8. Reproduction & Development

All vitamins are important for human health, but vitamin A is crucial when it comes to proper growth and development throughout all stages of our lives.

In particular, vitamin A is one of the best vitamins for women health.

Vitamin A deficiencies are associated with decreased immune function, higher morbidity and mortality and a greater risk of mother-to-child disease transmission [14].

The American Pediatrics Association cites vitamin A as one of the most critical vitamins during pregnancy and the breastfeeding period, especially in terms of lung function and maturation [15].

9. Tissue Health & Repair

Vitamin A aids cells in a process known as cellular differentiation [16].

This is an integral part of wound healing, as cellular reproduction must occur for new tissue to grow.

Vitamin A also helps reduce the risk of wound infection, as it is essential to proper immune system function, and the nutrient helps manage inflammation that occurs after a wound is sustained [17].

10. Kidney Stone Prevention

Kidney stones form when urine contains more crystal-forming substances such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid.

Research shows that vitamin A aids in the prevention of kidney stones [18].

One study found that children deficient in vitamin A had greater levels of calcium oxalate cyrstals in their urine, which is an increased risk for stone formation [19]. 

 

Signs of Vitamin A Deficiency

Now that we’ve discussed the important roles of vitamin A, let’s review a few vitamin A deficiency symptoms.

Because vitamin A is essential for normal vision, healthy skin, immunity, bone growth and development we can assume that deficiencies would cause problems with all of these systems.

People with long-term malabsorption of fats are more susceptible to developing a vitamin A deficiency.

Those with leaky gut syndrome, celiac disease, autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic disorders or alcohol dependence are all at a higher risk of deficiency.

Some of the most common symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency include: [20]

  • Xerophthalmia (dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea)
  • Night blindness
  • Bitot’s spots (buildup of keratin on the conjunctiva)
  • Dry lips
  • Thick or scaly skin
  • Impaired immunity
  • Stunted growth in children

Vitamin A Foods

So what foods are high in vitamin A?

First, remember that there are two sources of vitamin A: plant form (carotenoids) and animal form (retinol).

Carotenoids are colorful!

This means that foods with bright colors such as red, orange or yellow will have vitamin A.

Green foods also have an abundance of vitamin A. The green color comes from chlorophyll which allows plants to obtain energy from the sun.

This is also why the leaves turn colors in the fall. Basically all those shades of red, orange, and yellow are carotenoids. And as the chlorophyll degrades, it reveals the other colors that had been present all along.

So, to get vitamin A from plants, we should eat all the red, orange, yellow, and green vegetables.

When animals eat all these vegetables, the vitamin A is basically stored in our liver!

And just like we store vitamin A in our livers, so do fish, cows, chickens, and all the other animals.

So, the best source of animal-form vitamin A is liver. This is one of the benefits of Cod liver oil.

Aside from liver, the only other good source of vitamin A from animal foods are milk and eggs.

These are the two foods meant to nourish young animals, who need lots of vitamin A to grow correctly. 

Now, you might think we could get vitamin A from plant foods and animal foods equally well.

But here’s the thing: We need the animal form, retinol. We don’t need the plant form, carotenoids.

So when we get vitamin A from plant foods, everything comes down to how good we are at converting the carotenoids to retinol.

Getting vitamin A from plant foods is pretty hard!

Here’s a few things that can get in the way of conversion:

  • Fiber
  • Parasites
  • Toxic Metals (mercury and lead)
  • Iron Deficiency
  • Zinc Deficiency
  • Protein Deficiency
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Oxidative Stress Molecules from other Diseases

Here’s what I recommend as the best way to get vitamin A:

  • Eat 4 ounces of liver once a week, or eat a half ounce every day.
  • If you tolerate eggs, eat up to three whole eggs a day.
  • If you tolerate milk, consume up to three servings of full-fat dairy per day.
  • Eat 3 or 4 cups of red, orange, yellow, and green vegetables a day.
  • Don’t go out of your way to eat a high-fat diet, but don’t avoid fat either.
  • To super-charge your vitamin A, use grass-fed butter and red palm oil for your added fats.

Vitamin A Supplements

If you can’t meet the food recommendations, you should consider supplementing.

When supplementing, we need to start measuring because toxicity is possible.

Vitamin A is measured in “international units” or IU.

Cod liver oil that provides 3000 IU’s per day from a brand that doesn’t use synthetic vitamins is the most natural source.

You can also just take a vitamin A supplement.

If you’re going to supplement, then take 3,000 IU a day, or 10,000 IU twice a week.

If you take more, you should work with a knowledgeable health care practitioner and make sure all your other nutrients are adequate to avoid imbalances (such as vitamin D, E and K).

Vitamin A Toxicity & Precautions

More is not better and vitamin A certainly has a dark side!

Too much vitamin a can hurt your bones, especially when you’re deficient in vitamin D!

And while vitamin A is important for human development, toxicity can result in birth defects.

Additional symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair Loss
  • Upset stomach, nausea and vomiting
  • Dry, peeling, itchy skin
  • Cracked lips
  • Headaches

Keep in mind that vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and, therefore, needs to be consumed with fat in order to have optimal absorption. 

Summary

If you’re interested in optimizing your health and finding a doctor willing to help you get there, I’d be happy to help.

To get started, simply visit https://www.drdaniel.com/membership

Got Questions? Interested in taking ownership of your health and working with Dr. Daniel? If so, Schedule a Complimentary Consult Below:

How to Optimize Vitamin D Levels

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Previously I discussed How to Pick a Good Multivitamin and then continued that conversation with the importance of Probiotics.

Today, I’d like to talk about Vitamin D and how to optimize your levels of Vitamin D to improve overall health and Immunity.

Vitamin D has gotten a lot of press the last few years and when you dive into the research, it’s easy to understand why.

Vitamin D3 has a huge impact on your health and because its receptor is present in most cells and tissues in the body, it helps regulate multiple organ systems including:

  • hormone system
  • skeletal system (muscles, ligaments, tendons)
  • gastrointestinal system
  • nervous system
  • skin, hair, nails
  • and more…

The absolute best source of vitamin D is the sun, and while our ancestors used to spend a majority of their time outdoors, most people now spend daylight hours at desks under artificial lights.

In this article I hope to explain the vitamin D deficiency pandemic, and more importantly how to correct it!

The Health Benefits of Vitamin D

I could write an entire book on the benefits of Vitamin D. Here I will provide just a few reasons why you should optimize your levels.

Lowers Antibodies Across the Board (Autoimmune Conditions)

Autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, Graves’, Celiac, Chron’s, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are all improved when vitamin D levels are optimized.

For example, a recent study found that 83% of patients with Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid) who were given 1200-4000 IU of Vitamin D3 for 4 months, experienced 20.8% drops in TPO antibodies

In addition, it is a well known fact that patients with any of the above mentioned autoimmune conditions are chronically low in vitamin D.

New Research from Autoimmunity Research Foundation shows that the vitamin D receptors get down regulated by pathogens (such as parasites, bacteria, viruses, and yeast) compromising the uptake of vitamin D.

These pathogens can be the primary causes of autoimmunity.

So increasing vitamin D levels (through sun exposure) and/or supplementation, is key in managing an autoimmune condition.

Builds Stronger Bones

Vitamin D is a precursor hormone for a powerful steroid hormone in your body called calcitriol.

Calcitriol is essential for bone strength and cell regeneration… which is central to slowing down the aging process!

You absolutely have to have optimal levels of Vitamin D in order to absorb minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Vitamin D also suppresses parathyroid hormone which breaks bone down. This helps slow down the “softening of bones” in both children and adults.

Helps with Breast Cancer

The Academy of Endocrinology agrees that optimizing Vitamin D levels can prevent between 65-85% of Cancers!

In fact, checking for Vitamin D levels is one of the first things traditional oncologists check in the treatment of breast cancers, and its a baseline protocol for integrative breast cancer treatment.

This study has found that breast cancer patients had lower levels of vitamin D. But, you don’t have to (and should not be!) waiting for a diagnosis to fix your vitamin D levels if they are low.

This Stanford University School of Medicine study (and there are several others) have found that vitamin D3 inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells and stimulates apoptosis – which is self-killing of cancer cells.

Helps Gut Bacteria Produce Vitamins

We are still discovering the power of gut bacteria and what helps and what destroys them. 

This study showed that low levels of vitamin D changed the intestinal microbiome reducing vitamin B5 (pantothenic) production in the gut.

Again, I can go on and on, with study after study on Vitamin D and its impact on various conditions.

So whether its improving sleep, reversing estrogen dominance, depression, balancing blood sugar in type 2 diabetics, reversing and preventing anemia or helping with hair loss…

…it’s pretty obvious how important Vitamin D is for health.

Now let’s discuss getting tested, recommended ranges and dosages of Vitamin D.

Getting Tested for Vitamin D

Even the most conservative doctors today agree to run a vitamin D test for you.

So no problems there. However, make sure your doctor knows which test to order.

The Vitamin D Council recommends the 25(OH)D test, pronounced, “Twenty-five Hydroxy D” test.

There is another type of blood test for vitamin D, which is called a 1,25(OH)D, but the 25(OH)D is more accurate.

The role of Vitamin D testing in clinical practice stems from the Institute of Medicine (IoM) report, Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D”. 

Although IoM recommendations using 25-OH vitamin D are clear, the inappropriate ordering of 1,25(OH)D is quite common. 

The root causes for inappropriate vitamin D ordering include:

(a) clinicians not understanding the biological role of 25-OH versus 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, or

(b) 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D showing up as the “first” orderable test on electronic medical record (EMR) systems. 

Optimal Ranges and Dosages of Vitamin D

If you were to go by traditional lab ranges, “healthy blood levels” of vitamin D would be between 30 and 100 ng/ml.

This means that anything below 30 ng/ml, you are not getting enough vitamin D production.

It’s important to note that “healthy blood levels” are not “optimal blood levels”.

Functional medicine leaders and experts in functional diagnostic nutrition recommend ranges between 60 and 90 ng/ml, especially for people with a family or personal health history of cancers and autoimmune conditions.

If your levels are below 60 ng/ml, you should be consuming 5,000 to 10,000 UI per day.

Also note that It may take 3 to 4 months to get into a healthy range. Once your levels are optimized, you can then switch to a maintenance dose of 2,000 UI per day. 

For people with Hashimoto’s Disease (and any autoimmune conditions), it’s very very important for your vitamin D levels to be in the upper ranges of 60.

Best Source of Vitamin D

Of course the best source of Vitamin D is from the Sun!

Get More Sun Light

A quick and simple comparison for you: you get 400 units of vitamin D from a glass of fortified milk (which I don’t recommend) versus 20,000 units of Vitamin D from 30 min of unprotected sun exposure (or until your skin turns slightly pink).

Vitamin D is created by your skin when exposed to the sun. So Get the Hell outside! 

It only takes 15 to 20 minutes of morning sun (between the hours of 8 am and 10 am).

It is also recommended not to shower for 20 to 30 minutes after sunbathing for the skin to produce vitamin D.

Another factor is clothes. If you’re outside wearing a shirt and shorts or pants, you’re actually blocking most of the surface area of sun exposure. So if possible… take off your shirt or put on a bathing suit!

Eat Vitamin D Rich Foods

The best foods for increasing vitamin D intake are lard, fatty fish, cod liver oil, and egg yolks. Lard has 13 IUs of Vitamin D per tablespoon, which is going to be a lot of lard!

Per 100 grams (3 ½ ounces), here’s the best bang for your buck:

Cod Liver Oil: 10,000 IU
Sockeye Salmon (canned, solids, without skin and bones): 859 IU
Smoked Ciscoes: 530 IU
Egg yolk (raw, fresh): 218 IU
Lard (Pork Fat): 102 IU

Best Vitamin D Supplements

There are two types of vitamin D supplements: D2 and D3.

Vitamin D2 is produced in mushrooms when they are exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D3 is naturally present in animal fats. 

Studies show supplementing with D3 is better than D2 at raising your blood levels of the active form of vitamin D.

In addition, we now know that Vitamin K2 is important for the maximal absorption of D3. So if you’re supplementing, I’d highly recommend that you use a D3+K2 formula.

Vitamin K works with vitamin D to make sure calcium gets deposited in your bones and teeth rather than places it does not belong, like in your kidneys (kidney stones) and blood vessels (plaque).

Summary

Vitamin D status plays a major role in overall health, wellness and longevity.

Optimal blood levels of Vitamin D are 60 to 90 ng/ml and anything less may increase your risk of developing chronic health conditions.

Replenishing vitamin D levels is not difficult. If you are low, allow 3 to 6 months of a higher dose of 5,000 to 10,000 UI per day of vitamin D3.

I like the D3 formulation with K2 added (most women are also deficient in these) – the one I personally use and recommend is Liquid Vitamin D3+K2

Got Questions? Interested in taking ownership of your health and working with Dr. Daniel? If so, Schedule a Complimentary Consult Below:

How to Pick a High Quality Probiotic

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In my previous article I shared How to Pick a Good Multivitamin.

Today, I’d like to talk about Probiotics and which ones to take for improved health and immunity.

According to the American Nutrition Association, 70 million people experience at least one digestive issue per day.

The single most important aspect of gut health comes down to the quality and variety of bacteria that make up our microbiome.

More so, the microbiome is one of the most metabolically active systems in the human body.

The bacteria in your microbiome help to:

  • Improve digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Protect against unwanted microorganisms
  • Regulate immune function
  • Maintain healthy blood sugar levels
  • Assist in vitamin production
  • Produce essential nutrients

All that said, it’s important to keep the microbiome in balance with a plentiful supply of probiotics that help to regulate the digestive system.

1. Make sure your probiotics have the right dosage

Probiotics are bacteria that can survive in the human GI tract and temporarily colonize the gut.

But they only survive approximately 1-2 weeks after ingestion, and should be considered transient members of the microbiome. 

This is why it’s important to make sure that your probiotic has at least 10 Billion organisms per dosage. 

Some of the bacteria in your probiotic are bound to die during transit to your intestines, so the more that you ingest, the greater the chance of an effective colonization.

And remember, because they’re transient you only get the benefit of probiotics when you take them consistently. 

 

Probiotics consist of several “GOOD BACTERIA” that help to enhance the function of other bacteria in our body as well as protect you from “BAD BACTERIA” or pathogenic organisms.

Because probiotics are transient, regular use of probiotics provides optimal digestive and wellness support for your body.

Furthermore, it’s important to know that certain species of probiotics have greater survivability than others. 

This leads me to the second point I have to make on How to Pick a Good Probiotic…

2. Make sure your probiotics can make it to your digestive tract

Because probiotics are live organisms, there are many challenges associated with manufacturing and distributing probiotic supplements.

For a probiotic to be effective, it must be shelf-stable through the expiration date and precisely delivered to the intestinal tract, where it can have maximum benefit.

This is why I have chosen to use BioShield® technology in the formulation of my Advanced Probiotic formula.

BioShield® technology is an innovative manufacturing process developed to ensure consistent and reliable results in the delivery of nutraceuticals.

The microorganisms in the Advanced Probiotic are protected, sealed and freeze dried away from moisture, heat, light and oxygen.

This allows the bacteria to remain dormant until they are exposed to moisture in the GI tract.

By utilizing advanced encapsulation technology, the probiotic organisms are preserved and released on-target for maximum benefit.

 

Our lab studies show that the capsules make a big difference in the deliverability of a probiotic. 

Shockingly, only 4% of probiotics survive when they don’t have the proper delivery vehicle or capsule. 

But let’s say your probiotics do make it into your digestive system and colonize. The next step is to make sure you have a healthy diversity of species.

 

3. Make sure your probiotic has multiple strains

There are now thousands of different probiotics on the market.

But when it comes to clinical evidence and human clinical trials, there are only 4 categories (and really only 5 species) that we should consider.

Understanding the benefits of various probiotic strains and how they affect digestive health is essential in order to properly evaluate which probiotic is the best supplement for you. 

The image below identifies the 4 categories of probiotics that you should start experimenting with. *Note – Only Category 1 to 3 is available in the US.

 

As you can see from the chart above. The Four Categories of Probiotics and their species include:

  • Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium
  • Saccharomyces Boulardii
  • Bacillus
  • E. Coli

A good probiotic will have a combination of the species of more than 1 category.

The Advanced Probiotic contains Category 1 (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) and Category 2 (Saccharomyces Boulardii).

All you have to do is look at your probiotic’s label and see how many species it contains.

Summary

As you may know, there are now thousands of probiotics on the market and picking a good probiotic is tough.

But all you really have to do is look at the 

  • Dosage
  • Survivability
  • Diversity

Make sure your probiotic has at least 10 Billion organisms per capsule.

Make sure that It’s protected in a capsule or packaged in a way that can actually survive the harsh environment of our stomach.

See how many different strains and categories of bacteria your probiotic has.

Got Questions?

Interested in taking ownership of your health and working with Dr. Daniel?

If so, Schedule a Complimentary Consult Below:

How to Pick a High Quality Multivitamin

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To be honest, I got so tired of reading label after label of the vitamins that my patients were taking that I decided to manufacture my own.

Why? Because I know how they’re sourced, what exactly is inside them and how effective they are.

These days, it takes a PhD to truly determine whether a multivitamin or supplement is healthy for you.

In this article I’d like to help break down exactly how to you can identify whether your vitamins and supplements are healthy.

How to Pick a High Quality Multivitamin

As many of my patients know, my approach to healthy living is about eating the right foods that originate from the right places.

I say it over and over… the best way to get your vitamins is through food.

In fact, the vitamins and minerals you supplement with are only as good as the food that you put into your mouth.

So the first rule when it comes to picking a high quality multivitamin is to remember, FOOD FIRST!

All that said, I highly recommend a good Whole Food Multivitamin to fill the gap of vitamins and nutrients that you’re missing in your diet.

But choosing a multivitamin is tough.

If you go to the vitamin shop or any vitamin aisle, you’ve probably run into rows upon rows of various supplements.

And aside from price you likely ask yourself… How do I pick? Which one is the best?

The Most Important Thing About Your Multivitamin Is…

The most important thing to consider when choosing a multivitamin is whether or not it’s based on whole food ingredients or synthetic ingredients.

When I say synthetic ingredients, I’m talking about ingredients that were made in a lab rather than grown from the ground or the tress above.

To give you an example, let’s consider vitamin C.

1. Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid Vs Calcium Ascorbate

Vitamin C is usually delivered as ascorbic acid.

While there are many studies demonstrating the positive clinical effects of taking vitamin C as ascorbic acid, it’s 100% synthetic and produced in a lab.

Chemically these two compounds are different only in one atom, as Calcium ascorbate is a calcium salt of ascorbic acid, but how they impact our body is completely different.

Calcium ascorbate, is an alkaline form and will alkalize the blood wheras ascorbic acid is… well an acid and will acidify the blood.

So…

Calcium ascorbate = Good

Ascorbic acid = Not so Good.

It has been shown that popular vitamin C combinations containing calcium ascorbate and small amounts of other forms of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) are better absorbed than supplements containing only ascorbic acid.

2. Activated B Vitamins Vs Synthetic B Vitamins

Another example of differentiating a good multivitamin is to look at the type of B vitamins it contains.

The easiest B vitamin to point out is Vitamin B12.

There are two forms of vitamin B12 that you’re likely to come across – methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin.

Cyanocobalamin is the most commonly supplemented form of vitamin B12 and is chemically synthesized.

Methylcobalamin is found in foods and therefore naturally occurring.

In short, when you ingest cyanocobalamin, your body has to convert it into methylcobalamin to be absorbed.

Cyanocobalamin is certainly far from optimal.

When directly compared to other active ingredients, cyanocobalamin is clearly inferior it terms of absorption and clinical impact.

3. Folic Acid Vs Folate (Methyl-tetra-hydrofolic-acid)

Once again, the difference between folate and folic acid is simple: folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 found in foods like lemons and spinach, and folic acid is a synthetic form of B9 most common in supplements and fortified foods.

As is the case with synthetic vitamins, several studies have reported the presence of unmetabolized folic acid building up in the blood potentially causing liver toxicity and other complications.

Taking in synthetic B12 (cyanocobalamin) and Folic acid have even been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers!!!!

4. Natural Vs Synthetic Vitamin E

On a supplement label, natural vitamin E is listed as d-alpha tocopherold-alpha tocopheryl acetate, or d-alpha tocopheryl succinate.

In contrast, synthetic forms of vitamin E are labeled with a dl- prefix

So if your label says that Vitamin E is in the form of dl-alpha-tocopherol, it’s synthetic and could be building up in your tissues rather than truly helping you out.

d-alpha tocopheryl = Good

dl-alpha tocopheryl = Bad

A Simple 4 Step Test in Identifying Bad Vitamins:

Simply turn the bottle around and look at the label and try to identify what form of the vitamin it contains.

Step 1 – Look at Vitamin C. Does it have ascorbic acid?

Step 2 – Look at Vitamin B12. Does it have cyanocobalamin?

Step 3 – Look at the Folic Acid. Does it have Folic acid?

Step 4 – Look for Vitamin E. Is Vitamin E in the dl- form?

If you answered YES to any of the above… you may want to reconsider the vitamin you’re taking.

Got Questions?

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Vitamin & Nutrient Deficiency Testing

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Do You Have Nutrient Deficiencies?

90% of the time, the answer is YES, you do have vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Scientists estimate that between 90 and 92% of the US population has a nutritional deficiency.

Even more astonishing is the fact that over 200 medical conditions are caused by nutritional deficiencies.

90% of the time, the answer is YES, you do have vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Scientists estimate that between 90 and 92% of the US population has a nutritional deficiency.

Even more astonishing is the fact that over 200 medical conditions are caused by nutritional deficiencies.

Optimal vitamins and minerals are required by the body to under thousands upon thousands of cellular functions.

This can include properly eliminating toxins, promoting the health needs of your digestive system, cardiovascular system, metabolism and total body strength.

Signs can be both external and internal and can be caused by the over consumption of one vitamin or mineral which can leave your body out of balance and deficient in another mineral.

4 Primary Causes of Nutritional Deficiencies

There a dozens of reasons why someone can have vitamin and or nutritional deficiencies. However, we can narrow the vast majority of those reasons down to four:

1. The Standard American Diet

Let’s face it, The Standard American Diet is not a diet that humans were designed to thrive on.

No, humans thrived on a diet that was selected hundreds of thousands of years ago. It consisted of plants, tubers, meat, poultry, fish and occasionally fruit.

It did not consist of fast food, packaged food, industrial seed oils and artificial ingredients.

2. Lifestyle & Environment

4% of the entire worlds population lives in the United States, yet we consume over 50% of the worlds medications.

Sadly, this is our current way of life and lifestyle.

While these medications certainly play a role in fighting disease, they tax our bodies and begin to actually contribute to the development of disease.

For example, antacids such as Pepcid, Tagamet, Prevacid and Prilosec all contribute to Vitamin B12, Folate, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron and Zinc deficiencies.

Birth control blocks all B vitamins. Antihistamines for allergies and sinuses can impact your brain chemistry and alter the production of powerful neurotransmitters essential for overall well being.

3. Gut Health & Food Sensitivities

If you have followed me for some time then you should understand the role that our gut plays in overall health.

I know you’ve heard the saying, “You Are What You Eat.” – but it’s more like “You Are What You Absorb.” and the gut plays a major role in nutrient absorption.

This means you can be eating all the right foods but not absorbing those nutrients. So in order to optimize your health, the gut needs to be properly evaluated.

When the gut is not healthy, then your immune system is on red alert and this results in food allergies and sensitivities; which further causes nutrient absorption issues.

4. Genetics & Individuality

Finally, your nutritional needs and susceptibilities ultimately come down to your genetics, lifestyle and environment.

What you need at the age of 10 is going to be completely different in your 20’s, 50’s and beyond. 

This is why we recommend customized testing based on YOUR needs, not someone else.

In Functional Medicine We don’t guess… We TEST!

Is Nutrient Deficiency Testing Right For You? 

Schedule a Free Consult and Let’s Talk…

 

4 Crucial Tests Needed to Determine Your Health

Home > Nutrition

What’s The Best Indicator of Your Overall Health?

Your Health should not be based on how you feel.

It’s not your total cholesterol level.

It’s not whether you’re skinny or fat.

It’s not your resting heart rate, blood pressure, squat max, how many pull ups you can do or how many miles you can run every week.

The best indicator of your overall health isn’t even how many grams of protein, carbs and fat you eat every day.

So what’s the single best indicator of your overall health?

There isn’t one. There’s many. And they’re all important to really look at, at least annually, if you’re interested in living the absolute best life you can live.

When it comes to health, look at SYSTEMS not SYMPTOMS.

The Hierarchy of Analyzing Human Health

First, determining how healthy you are should never be based on how you feel.

Basing your health on how you feel is what get’s us into trouble with some of the leading causes of death. Nearly 75% of all deaths in the US are attributed to just 10 causes, with the top 3 of these accounting for over 50% of all deaths.

The leading causes of death include:

  • Heart Disease (Heart Attacks, Strokes, Heart Failure)
  • Cancer (Lung, Colon, Breast, Pancreatic, Prostate, etc.
  • Chronic Respiratory Disease (COPD, Emphysema, Asthma)

What’s worst about the 3 leading causes of death is that the first two often have no early warnings, signs or symptoms.

You can be healthy one day and drop dead from a heart attack the next.

You can be bicycling with friends and family at the park; and suffer from a massive stroke during the night.

Cancer can be lurking in your body for 20 years and you’ll never know until it gets so bad that its nasty face becomes obvious. This is exactly why I developed a Hierarchy of Analyzing Human Health for my patients.

If you want to understand your current level of health, it’s important that you look at SYSTEMS rather than SYMPTOMS! When you go to the doctor for your annual checkup, chances are they looked at

  • Height, Weight & Blood Pressure
  • Listened to your heart and lungs
  • Ordered some routine blood chemistry panels

…and called it a day

While this is the standard medical exam that can certainly find obvious problems, it also allows so many people to fall through the cracks because it’s just not enough to really determine your current level of health; especially if you’re someone who is “healthier” than most.

And lets be honest… “healthier” than most in America is not really saying much.

If you really want to a get a hold on your current level of health, then a solid first step in analyzing your health begins with a:

  • Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Panel combined with a Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis.
  • Comprehensive Digestive Health Panel
  • Comprehensive Hormone Panel (Sex and Stress Hormones and Brain Chemistry)
  • Nutritional Analysis including Dietary Intake, Blood Chemistry & Nutrient Level Monitoring

This is not to say that your fitness level, psychology and environment do not play a part. But even if you worked out 12 hours a daya and felt that you had a strong emotional base.. you can still drop dead from a heart attack or come down with cancer.

So let’s unpack all this to have a better understanding of WHY?

Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Panel

The benefits of a comprehensive blood chemistry panel really depends on WHO interprets and HOW they interpret the information.

The reality is, most doctors simply look at lab values and say you are normal or abnormal.

That’s it.

However, a good blood chemistry analysis

  • Can reveal the source of many symptoms.
  • Pinpoint underlying health imbalances way before they turn into serious health problems.
  • Identify hormonal, metabolic, and gastrointestinal issues.
  • Identify nutrient and mineral deficiencies.
  • Evaluate your bodies ability to detox and repair itself.

When interpreting blood chemistry results, there is a Functional Range and a Pathological Range.

Functional Ranges help to identify imbalances that are predisposing you to disease.

Pathological Ranges tell you when you have a disease.

This is why most doctors will miss what their patients bloodwork is telling them. It’s why you can have all the signs of heart disease or diabetes; yet your doctor will tell you your fine.

Doctors today use Pathological Ranges and do not address the sub-clinical findings that are present until they become a serious medical condition.

The goal is to identify developing helath problems and prevent them from manifesting into a serious medical condition. This is exactly what happens when I order a comprehensive blood chemistry panel.

Comprehensive Digestive Health Panel 

80% of your immune system lives in your digestive system.

If you’ve never had a comprehensive stool panel performed, there is no way you can properly assess your current level of health. There are hundreds of conditions and diseases that can be caused by gut dysfunctions.

This can include conditions such as Heart Disease, Cancer, Hormone Imbalances (Thyroid, PCOS, Estrogen, HPA-Axis, Cortisol), Autoimmune Conditions and allergies.

The Benefits of a Comprehensive Digestive Health Panel:

  • Quanitfy the amount of beneficial (good) bacteria vs pathogenic (bad) bacteria
  • Monitor your bodies ability to absorb nutrients such as protein, fats and carbohydrates
  • Identify how much Inflammation is present
  • Screen for harmful microorganisms such as fungus, parasties, viruses

Like I previously mentioned, many chronic disorders come from digestive problems and inadequate nutrient absorption.

Proper gut function is needed to eliminate toxic substances, pathogenic organisms, and undigested food particles from the body to prevent health problems.

If you’ve never had your gut health assessed, there’s no way you could consider yourself healthy.

Comprehensive Hormone & Brain Chemistry Study

The way most people have had their hormones tested and treated is downright negligent.

To be put on synthetic hormone (birth control, thyroid, estrogen and testosterone) without properly measuring where you are is criminal.

There is enough here that I could write an entire textbook about so I’m going to try and keep it simple.

In order to determine your current hormone status you need:

  • Blood (Serum) Testing – this checks inactive hormone circulating in your body
  • Saliva Testing – this checks active hormone that can stimulate cells in your body
  • Urine Testing – this tells you how your body is metabolizing “active” hormone

Understanding what your hormones are doing is highly useful information when it comes to trying to determine your overall level of health.

The challenge lies in accurately measuring your hormone levels and interpreting the test results.

The DUTCH Hormone test is one way for a doctor to capture all the information needed in ONE simple test.

Blood testing is the most common method of hormone testing, and it’s a good test for reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, as there’s no major variation in these hormones throughout the day (testosterone is an exception).

The drawback is that blood testing will not show you the metabolites of those hormones.

The blood test also falls short when testing adrenal hormones like cortisol, as it can only show you total cortisol. However, the saliva still won’t show you the metabolites of cortisol.

DUTCH, on the other hand, does both.

Taking things a step further, the DUTCH Hormone test also evaluates for 3 key neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine/epinephrine) as well as nutritional markers such as B12, B6 and Glutathione.

This helps to understand how your body is absorbing these vitamins which are commonly associated with hormone imbalances that cause fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, depression, motivation, sex drive, estrogen dominance and stress.

Assessing Nutrient Status

In my opinion, a proper nutrient status assessment would include 3 things:

  • Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Analysis
  • Food Diary or Nutrition Intake
  • Ion Profile that evaluates for over 125 key nutrient biomarkers and ratios that can help identify nutritional shortfalls.

All together this allow us to compare information between the 3 studies to get an accurate representation of your current nutritional status.

Why is this important? Specific imbalances of vitamins, nutrients, and essential co-factors can all contribute to common chronic diseases such as:

    • Mood disorders including anxiety and depression
    • Fatigue
    • Digestive Health Problems
    • Chronic Pain/Inflammatory conditions
    • Cardiovascular Disease
    • Weight Issues
    • Diabetes
    • Sleep Disturbance
    • Hormone Imbalances
    • Risk of Cancer

What Next?

There are 3 types of people who really need this type of analysis.

1) The person who has a medical condition and is being treated medically, yet they’re not getting any better.

2) The person who has a medical condition but does not want to be on medication and has no other option for treatment.

3) The person who has been told they’re healthy but has never had this kind of assessment.

If you’re one of the 3 people I just described, I would seriously consider getting properly assessed to avoid any unnecessary health problems that are sure to develop.

We just discussed 4 tests that help to properly evaluate you health status.

If you’re struggling with a health issue… heart health, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune conditions or weight issues, you need this assessment.

If you believe you’re healthy and you’ve never had this kind of assessment, you’re missing crucial data that may prove otherwise.

Maybe you are healthy and you want a fresh perspective on how you’ve been living your life, then this assessment is for you too.

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