4 Must-Have Tests for Nutritional Deficiencies

fatigue, why am I feeling tired or drowsy?, signs of vitamin B12 deficiency, magnesium deficiency and heart, vitamin D deficiency in US, thyroid testing, how to test vitamin D levels, how to test B12 levels, symptoms of magnesium deficiency, thyroid and iodine deficiency, energy levels low

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

February 2, 2018

  • Overfed and undernourished
  • Why you may be unable to absorb vitamin B12
  • 2 mineral deficiencies that destroy your health

One of the most startling concepts of modern-day life is the idea of nutritional deficiencies right here in the U.S. It’s just hard to imagine that with all of the foods available to us, that anyone could be running low on certain vitamins and minerals.

Unfortunately, this is something that is much more common than most people realize. And the truth of the matter is you’re probably deficient in at least one – if not several – life-supporting nutrients.

The vitamin D crisis is a perfect example. Recent evidence shows that about 40% of Americans are deficient in the sunshine vitamin – meaning they have concentrations lower than 20 ng/ml.

However there are many experts, including myself, who believe this number is grossly understated. The absolute minimum deficiency point should be set at 30 ng/ml. (In this case, the number of people here in the U.S. considered deficient rises to a whopping 75%.)

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D year-round, especially if you live north of Atlanta. And slathering sunscreen all over yourself every time you go outside doesn’t help much either.

This is a big problem, because when you are low in vitamin D it can double your risk of heart attack, make you susceptible to type 2 diabetes, result in depression, weaken your bones and boost your chances of Alzheimer’s by about 50%.

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Recommendation: No matter what your age or geographical location, get screened for vitamin D deficiency. All you have to do is ask your doctor for a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. Set your goal for maintaining levels of around 40-50 ng/ml. If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease closer to 65 ng/ml is better.

Are You Actually Absorbing the Vitamin B12 in Your Diet?

Vitamin B12 deficiency is another big problem here in the U.S. This is true even among people who get plenty of vitamin B12 in their diets.

That’s because the large majority of B12 insufficiency isn’t because there isn’t enough of it the foods we eat. Rather, somewhere around 60% of deficiencies are a result of malabsorption issues.

In a nutshell, your stomach produces something called “intrinsic factor” that allows B12 to be absorbed from the foods you eat. A decreased level of intrinsic factor is one of the most common causes of B12 deficiency. Some drugs, such as antacids and metformin, may contribute to a decline in intrinsic factor.

If your body can’t absorb vitamin B12 you may experience weakness, fatigue, poor memory, anemia, hearing loss, confusion and nerve problems. In particular, peripheral neuropathy and balance problems are strongly associated with low B12 levels.

Recommendation: A serum or urine methylmalonic acid test can reveal a vitamin B12 deficiency weeks – even months – before it shows up in blood tests for anemia or you start showing symptoms.

2 Mineral Deficiencies that Destroy Your Health

One of the most overlooked deficiencies today is magnesium. Upwards of three out of four people might not be getting enough of this mineral in their diets. Considering the fact that magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in your body, this is a big mistake.

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Magnesium is absolutely critical when it comes to maintaining a normal heartbeat. In fact, it’s involved in all of the electrical activity in your body – from heart contractions and muscle function to nerve impulses, energy production and brain activity.

Subtract it from the equation and everything goes haywire. Your heart’s steadfast beat loses rhythm. Muscles start cramping. Your brain can’t function properly. Nerves start misfiring and your body stops producing energy.

Recommendation: The most common test for magnesium deficiency is the “total serum magnesium test”.  However, when your body is short on magnesium it will pull it out of your cells to maintain adequate blood serum levels of it. Thus, I prefer the “RBC magnesium test”, which checks the actual magnesium levels in your cells. It’s a much more accurate measure and provides an earlier indicator of deficiency.

Another mineral of importance is iodine. The sad fact of the matter is, most folks don’t get enough iodine in their diets to support thyroid function.

Even worse, we’re surrounded by chemicals like fluoride and chlorine and bromine that prevent our bodies from absorbing the trace amounts we do get. That’s because these compounds compete with iodine receptors. And when you’re exposed to them, they displace the iodine… your body just can’t hold onto it.

When your thyroid function slows down, so does everything else. Your metabolism flies out the window… right along with your ability to burn calories.

Your memory, libido and energy levels might take a holiday, too. It’s not unusual to feel fatigued, depressed and listless if you have an underactive thyroid. At the same time, sleep may elude you. You could even start losing your hair.

Recommendation: If these symptoms apply to you, ask your doctor for a full thyroid panel. This includes testing T3, T4 and TPO (not just TSH). A reverse T3 (rT3) test can also solve a few mysteries if you think you may have a thyroid problem. Testing is better than guessing.

SOURCES:

Forrest KY, et al. Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults. Nutr Res. 2011 Jan;31(1):48-54.

Pludowski P, et al. Vitamin D supplementation guidelines. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2018 Jan;175:125-135.

Giovannucci E, et al. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men: a prospective study. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Jun 9;168(11):1174-80.

Mitri J, et al. Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Sep;65(9):1005-15.

Anglin RE, et al. Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;202:100-7.

Rizzoli R, et al. Vitamin D supplementation in elderly or postmenopausal women: a 2013 update of the 2008 recommendations from the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis (ESCEO). Curr Med Res Opin. 2013 Apr;29(4):305-13.

Littlejohns TJ, et al. Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease. Neurology. 2014 Sep 2;83(10):920-8.

Andrès E, et al. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency in elderly patients. CMAJ. 2004 Aug 3;171(3):251-9.

Oberlin BS, et al. Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Relation to Functional Disabilities. Nutrients. 2013 Nov; 5(11): 4462–4475.

Rosanoff A, et al. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutr Rev 2012;70(3):153-64.

Kieboom BCT, et al. Serum Magnesium and the Risk of Death From Coronary Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Jan; 5(1): e002707.

Volpe SL. Magnesium in disease prevention and overall health. Adv Nutr. 2013 May 1;4(3):378S-83S.

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