Our bodies need different micronutrients, commonly referred to as vitamins and minerals which are extremely important to our wellbeing and preventing disease. Vitamins and minerals are not produced in the body, so we must get them from outside sources like food and supplements. A nutritional deficiency is when the body cannot or does not absorb nutrients from food, or the body doesn’t get the right amount of nutrients from food.
According to the CDC at least half of the children across the world, who are 5 years old or younger have vitamin and mineral deficiencies (i). If these are not corrected, it can cause various health conditions as we age. All of us have nutritional deficiencies!
It is extremely important to have an annual blood test that performs a nutritional analysis of all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids in the body. This is the most accurate way to test for micronutrient deficiencies.
Symptoms of nutritional deficiencies vary and can be the root cause of many health conditions. A lack of certain nutrients can cause cancer, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, etc. At LifeWorks Wellness Center we encourage patients to do this test. It is worth it to the patient and the practitioner because if we don’t know what is wrong with you, we can’t help you. Finding out what nutritional deficiencies are in the body, allows us to correct them through supplementation and treatments to heal the body.
How does it affect the body?
Symptoms can vary based on the nutritional deficiency someone has. These include:
- Mood disorders
- Brain Fog
- Digestive Issues
- Chronic Pain
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Weight Issues
These symptoms are found in many health conditions, which is why it is extremely important to know your micronutrient levels.
For example, if you have a deficiency in amino acids where you’re not getting enough amino acids in or you’re not able to digest them well enough, the body can’t make the proteins that it needs. Amino acids are the building blocks to protein and proteins are needed to make energy, so your energy might be low. Did you know that your B vitamins convert your amino acids to proteins? Your amino acids can be super high but your B vitamins might be low which means the amino acids are not converting to proteins. For patients who are trying to build muscle, they will have a tough time doing so if the amino acids are not converting properly. Proteins are also needed for neurotransmitters. You might be depressed, anxious or have no drive. Proteins are needed to repair the inner lining of your gut. In a healthy individual, you are supposed to grow new lining every 3 or 4 days. If you are deficient in amino acids your gut may only grow new lining every 6 – 7 days or 11 – 12 days. That means that the gut has an injury, and it is going to leak. This condition is called “leaky gut” and the gut is not going to absorb nutrients correctly.
If you are low in Zinc or Vitamin A, you are going to have trouble trying to kill cancer cells. If you have a Selenium deficiency you are going to have trouble fighting viruses. If you do not have enough iodine in the body, you can’t make thyroid hormone and you may also have fibrocystic breasts. Most people don’t realize that a common symptom of iodine deficiency is fibrocystic breasts.
Ninety five percent of the population is low in Vitamin D. It leads to hypertension, cancer and soft bones, to name a few. Most people are deficient in Vitamin D and don’t realize it. They believe that since they are out in the sun, they should be getting a sufficient amount of Vitamin D but this isn’t the case. At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we’ve been measuring Vitamin D levels since we opened in 1997. In the last few years, it has now become more common for medical doctors to order Vitamin D levels. The scary part is that they haven’t been looking at this level or other nutrients for the past 20 or 40 years!
Another important component of nutritional deficiencies is Glyphosate. All of us have Glyphosate in our bodies as it is the weed killer RoundUp. RoundUp is used to kill weeds on our crops, where it makes its way into our food supply and into our ground water. Glyphosate blocks the body’s ability to convert sunlight into Vitamin D.
Unless your Practitioner is actively measuring all of the vitamins and minerals, they are going to miss important information and factors contributing to your symptoms and/or health conditions.
The information in the table below is from Harvard University which details the benefits of each vitamin and the food sources to get them (ii).
GOOD FOOD SOURCES
DID YOU KNOW?
RETINOIDS AND CAROTENE (vitamin A; includes retinol, retinal, retinyl esters, and retinoic acid and are also referred to as "preformed" vitamin A. Beta carotene can easily be converted to vitamin A as needed.)
Essential for vision Lycopene may lower prostate cancer risk. Keeps tissues and skin healthy. Plays an important role in bone growth and in the immune system. Diets rich in the carotenoids alpha carotene and lycopene seem to lower lung cancer risk. Carotenoids act as antioxidants. Foods rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against cataracts
Sources of retinoids: beef liver, eggs, shrimp, fish, fortified milk, butter, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese
Many people get too much preformed vitamin A from food and supplements. Large amounts of supplemental vitamin A (but not beta carotene) can be harmful to bones.
THIAMIN (vitamin B1)
Helps convert food into energy. Needed for healthy skin, hair, muscles, and brain and is critical for nerve function.
Pork chops, brown rice, ham, soymilk, watermelons, acorn squash
Most nutritious foods have some thiamin.
RIBOFLAVIN (vitamin B2)
Helps convert food into energy. Needed for healthy skin, hair, blood, and brain
Milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, meats, green leafy vegetables, whole and enriched grains and cereals.
Most Americans get enough of this nutrient.
NIACIN (vitamin B3, nicotinic acid)
Helps convert food into energy. Essential for healthy skin, blood cells, brain, and nervous system
Meat, poultry, fish, fortified and whole grains, mushrooms, potatoes, peanut butter
Niacin occurs naturally in food and can also be made by your body from the amino acid tryptophan, with the help of B6.
PANTOTHENIC ACID (vitamin B5)
Helps convert food into energy. Helps make lipids (fats), neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and hemoglobin
Wide variety of nutritious foods, including chicken, egg yolk, whole grains, broccoli, mushrooms, avocados, tomato products
Deficiency causes burning feet and other neurologic symptoms.
PYRIDOXINE (vitamin B6, pyridoxal, pyridoxine, pyridoxamine)
Aids in lowering homocysteine levels and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Helps convert tryptophan to niacin and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays key roles in sleep, appetite, and moods. Helps make red blood cells Influences cognitive abilities and immune function
Meat, fish, poultry, legumes, tofu and other soy products, potatoes, non-citrus fruits such as bananas and watermelons
Many people don't get enough of this nutrient.
COBALAMIN (vitamin B12)
Aids in lowering homocysteine levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. Assists in making new cells and breaking down some fatty acids and amino acids. Protects nerve cells and encourages their normal growth Helps make red blood cells and DNA
Meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, fortified cereals, fortified soymilk
Some people, particularly older adults, are deficient in vitamin B12 because they have trouble absorbing this vitamin from food. Those on a vegan or vegetarian diet often don't get enough B12 as it's mostly found in animal products. They may need to take supplements. A lack of vitamin B12 can cause memory loss, dementia, and numbness in the arms and legs.
Helps convert food into energy and synthesize glucose. Helps make and break down some fatty acids. Needed for healthy bones and hair
Many foods, including whole grains, organ meats, egg yolks, soybeans, and fish
Some is made by bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. However, it's not clear how much of this the body absorbs.
ASCORBIC ACID (vitamin C)
Foods rich in vitamin C may lower the risk for some cancers, including those of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and breast. Long-term use of supplemental vitamin C may protect against cataracts. Helps make collagen, a connective tissue that knits together wounds and supports blood vessel walls. Helps make the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Bolsters the immune system
Fruits and fruit juices (especially citrus), potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts
Evidence that vitamin C helps reduce colds has not been convincing.
Helps make and release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which aids in many nerve and brain activities. Plays a role in metabolizing and transporting fatsHelps make and release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which aids in many nerve and brain activities. Plays a role in metabolizing and transporting fats
Many foods, especially milk, eggs, liver, salmon, and peanuts
Normally the body makes small amounts of choline. But experts don't know whether this amount is enough at certain ages.
CALCIFEROL (vitamin D)
Helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, which strengthen bones. Helps form teeth and bones. Supplements can reduce the number of non-spinal fractures
Fortified milk or margarine, fortified cereals, fatty fish
Many people don't get enough of this nutrient. While the body uses sunlight to make vitamin D, it cannot make enough if you live in northern climates or don't spend much time in the sun.
ALPHA-TOCOPHEROL (vitamin E)
Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Protects vitamin A and certain lipids from damage. Diets rich in vitamin E may help prevent Alzheimer's disease.
Wide variety of foods, including vegetable oils, salad dressings and margarines made with vegetable oils, wheat germ, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts
Vitamin E does not prevent wrinkles or slow other aging processes.
FOLIC ACID (vitamin B9, folate, folacin)
Vital for new cell creation. Helps prevent brain and spine birth defects when taken early in pregnancy; should be taken regularly by all women of child-bearing age since women may not know they are pregnant in the first weeks of pregnancy. Can lower levels of homocysteine and may reduce heart disease risk May reduce risk for colon cancer. Offsets breast cancer risk among women who consume alcohol
Fortified grains and cereals, asparagus, okra, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, legumes like black-eyed peas and chickpeas, orange juice, tomato juice
Many people don't get enough of this nutrient. Occasionally, folic acid masks a B12 deficiency, which can lead to severe neurological complications. That's not a reason to avoid folic acid; just be sure to get enough B12.
PHYLLOQUINONE, MENADIONE (vitamin K)
Activates proteins and calcium essential to blood clotting. May help prevent hip fractures
Cabbage, liver, eggs, milk, spinach, broccoli, sprouts, kale, collards, and other green vegetables
Intestinal bacteria make a form of vitamin K that accounts for half your requirements. If you take an anticoagulant, keep your vitamin K intake consistent.
Builds and protects bones and teeth. Helps with muscle contractions and relaxation, blood clotting, and nerve impulse transmission. Plays a role in hormone secretion and enzyme activation. Helps maintain healthy blood pressure
Yogurt, cheese, milk, tofu, sardines, salmon, fortified juices, leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli and kale (but not spinach or Swiss chard, which have binders that lessen absorption)
Adults absorb roughly 30% of calcium ingested, but this can vary depending on the source. Diets very high in calcium may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Balances fluids in the body. A component of stomach acid, essential to digestion
Salt (sodium chloride), soy sauce, processed foods
New recommendations (DRIs) for chloride are under development by the Institute of Medicine.
Enhances the activity of insulin, helps maintain normal blood glucose levels, and is needed to free energy from glucose
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, potatoes, some cereals, nuts, cheese
Unrefined foods such as brewer's yeast, nuts, and cheeses are the best sources of chromium, but brewer's yeast can sometimes cause bloating and nausea, so you may choose to get chromium from other food sources.
Plays an important role in iron metabolism and immune system. Helps make red blood cells
Liver, shellfish, nuts, seeds, whole-grain products, beans, prunes, cocoa, black pepper
More than half of the copper in foods is absorbed.
Encourages strong bone formation. Keeps dental cavities from starting or worsening
Water that is fluoridated, toothpaste with fluoride, marine fish, teas
Harmful to children in excessive amounts.
Part of thyroid hormone, which helps set body temperature and influences nerve and muscle function, reproduction, and growth. Prevents goiter and a congenital thyroid disorder
Iodized salt, processed foods, seafood
To prevent iodine deficiencies, some countries add iodine to salt, bread, or drinking water.
Helps hemoglobin in red blood cells and myoglobin in muscle cells ferry oxygen throughout the body. Needed for chemical reactions in the body and for making amino acids, collagen, neurotransmitters, and hormones
Red meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, green vegetables, fortified bread and grain products
Many women of childbearing age don't get enough iron. Women who do not menstruate probably need the same amount of iron as men. Because iron is harder to absorb from plants, experts suggest vegetarians get twice the recommended amount (assuming the source is food).
Needed for many chemical reactions in the body Works with calcium in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and regulation of blood pressure. Helps build bones and teeth
Green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, legumes, cashews, sunflower seeds and other seeds, halibut, whole-wheat bread, milk
The majority of magnesium in the body is found in bones. If your blood levels are low, your body may tap into these reserves to correct the problem.
Helps form bones. Helps metabolize amino acids, cholesterol, and carbohydrates
Fish, nuts, legumes, whole grains, tea
If you take supplements or have manganese in your drinking water, be careful not to exceed the upper limit. Those with liver damage or whose diets supply abundant manganese should be especially vigilant.
Part of several enzymes, one of which helps ward off a form of severe neurological damage in infants that can lead to early death
Legumes, nuts, grain products, milk
Molybdenum deficiencies are rare.
Helps build and protect bones and teeth. Part of DNA and RNA. Helps convert food into energy. Part of phospholipids,which carry lipids in blood and help shuttle nutrients into and out of cells
Wide variety of foods, including milk and dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, liver, green peas, broccoli, potatoes, almonds
Certain drugs bind with phosphorus, making it unavailable and causing bone loss, weakness, and pain.
Balances fluids in the body. Helps maintain steady heartbeat and send nerve impulses. Needed for muscle contractions. A diet rich in potassium seems to lower blood pressure. Getting enough potassium from your diet may benefit bones
Meat, milk, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes
Food sources do not cause toxicity, but high-dose supplements might.
Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Helps regulate thyroid hormone activityActs as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Helps regulate thyroid hormone activity
Organ meats, seafood, walnuts, sometimes plants (depends on soil content), grain products
Researchers are investigating whether selenium may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, but with mixed results.
Balances fluids in the body. Helps send nerve impulses. Needed for muscle contractions. Impacts blood pressure; even modest reductions in salt consumption can lower blood pressure
Salt, soy sauce, processed foods, vegetables
While experts recommend that people limit sodium intake to 2,300 mg, most Americans consume 4,000–6,000 mg a day.
Helps form bridges that shape and stabilize some protein structures. Needed for healthy hair, skin, and nails
Protein-rich foods, such as meats, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes
Sulfur is a component of thiamin and certain amino acids. There is no recommended amount for sulfur. Deficiencies occur only with a severe lack of protein.
Helps form many enzymes and proteins and create new cells. Frees vitamin A from storage in the liver. Needed for immune system, taste, smell, and wound healing. When taken with certain antioxidants, zinc may delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration
Red meat, poultry, oysters and some other seafood, fortified cereals, beans, nuts
Because vegetarians absorb less zinc, experts suggest that they get twice the recommended requirement of zinc from plant foods.
As you can see from this table, vitamins are extremely important to the body and if your Doctor is not measuring them, you need to ask them to perform a nutritional deficiency blood test or come see us at LifeWorks Wellness Center.
Unless you are following a Paleo or Keto diet, or eating organic fruits and vegetables, the chances are that you have a poor diet and your digestion will be insufficient. The body does not function correctly due to these deficiencies and if it doesn’t function right, there will be some kind of symptom or health problem. If you weren’t sick before, it is important to find out what is missing in the body that could be the reason for your illness now. If your Doctor doesn’t extensively look for vitamins, minerals, essential fats and amino acids, then they are going to miss extremely important information relating to the body and how it is operating.
It is also important to note that you can over supplement. Therefore, it is extremely important to monitor your nutrient levels to see what is needed for your own body. Health stores and grocery stores are full of supplements with various units for each vitamin. Unless you know how much of each vitamin your body needs, you could be under or over supplementing and wasting money. This can also cause your symptoms to get worse and perhaps develop more health issues. Once you are in the optimum range for that vitamin and it is stable, you may not need as much supplementation any more or you may even stop supplementation if your body is now regulated and can absorb the nutrients correctly through food.
How are Nutritional Deficiencies treated with Conventional Medicine?
Ninety percent of medical doctors aren’t looking for nutritional deficiencies, especially those in conventional medicine. If you visit a Doctor in conventional medicine with any symptom or health condition, they will more than likely prescribe you another medication to handle these issues. However, this is just putting a band aid over a wound. If they do not find the root cause of these symptoms or health conditions, you will just get worse and develop more health issues.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center we offer a blood test that measures over 125 important nutrients that can help identify nutritional deficiencies that may be the root cause of many health conditions. Once a patient has completed this test, our Practitioners will analyze the results and recommend a specific program for them to follow. We offer several therapies and supplementation to help regulate all deficiencies. It is important to note, that many patients have heavy metal toxicity and other health concerns, so we offer a vast range of blood tests that can find the root cause to any health condition.
We have been treating patients with nutritional deficiencies for over 20 years. Most of the patients we see at LifeWorks have been suffering with these symptoms or health conditions for many years as they were not diagnosed to have any micronutrient deficiencies. We use a fully credited medical laboratory, which has been in business for over 30 years and specializes in testing for nutritional deficiencies. LifeWorks Wellness Center offers nutritional IV’s and supplementation as part of their program to heal the body.
The Myers’ Cocktail IV helps boost or maintain a healthy immune system. This mixture of B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium helps many conditions and is the perfect mix to improve immunity. Many people are magnesium deficient because they have difficulty absorbing magnesium, so taking oral forms of the nutrient does not work for them. When the body receives magnesium via IV, it is replenished and can begin to absorb the oral form.
A detailed supplement plan will be given to the patient with all the nutrients and minerals that they are deficient in. It is important to follow this regimen, as over supplementation of a particular mineral or vitamin can have negative effects on the body. This is why we monitor the patient with annual blood work to see how their levels are regulating. Once the body is stabilized, it is easier to maintain the nutrient levels within the body.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center we have helped many patients with nutritional deficiencies. For more information call 727-466-6789 or visit www.lifeworkswellnesscenter.com.
Dr. David Minkoff is co-founder and Medical Director of LifeWorks Wellness Center, one of the foremost alternative health clinics in the US.