Vitamin and minerals are better than prescription medications. The targeted use of nutrients can solve simple problems like anemia and complex conditions like autoimmune disease. The sampling below are the leading or the most important nutrients to consider when getting a baseline nutrient status.
Baseline labs we run on new patients and as part of an annual review may include: Iron, Ferritin, Vitamin D, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Magnesium
Iron is a transport mineral found in red blood that binds oxygen for delivery to all cells and tissues throughout the body. It is vital to good physical and mental health and if it is low, fatigue and lethargy will often be present. Low iron levels are easily observed in standard labs and can be supplemented with chelated forms with good absorption.
Ferritin levels are an indicator often of the long term storage of iron. If ferritin levels are low, fatigue may be present, and patients may also report feeling unable to recover from physical exertion when compared to the recent past. Ferritin levels may also rise in genetic disorders such as Hemochromatosis and are also associated with inflammation generally and from candida overgrowth in the intestines.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin with optimal levels in the blood ranging between 50 -70mg/dL. Optimal vitamin D levels offer many health benefits, including promoting bone growth, reducing risks for cardiovascular disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and breast cancer. A small number of patients report improving energy and mood with appropriate dosing of vitamin D. We know that optimal vitamin D levels may be influenced by the amount and time of day of sun exposure. Though even in Arizona, a sunshine state, testing reveals most patients are deficient.
An additional area of intense vitamin D research is its relationship to depression. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a situational mood disorder brought on by decreasing daylight in the winter months. High doses of vitamin D during these months have proven to be a very effective natural remedy for SAD, leading most practitioners to believe that normal neurotransmitter function depends in part on adequate vitamin D synthesis.
Vitamin D levels are inversely related to those of melatonin, another mood-regulating hormone. Melatonin helps modulate your sleep and wake circadian rhythms, with darkness triggering melatonin secretion by the pineal gland contained within the brain. Melatonin elevations help prepare the mind and the body for a good night of sleep. Insomnia, mood swings, and even food cravings are influenced by melatonin. Sunlight shuts melatonin production off, while triggering release of vitamin D. Most of us can sense the positive influence of sunlight in our own lives by the immediate lift we get from taking a walk outdoors on a beautiful sunny day. Now there may be many factors at work that brighten our mood in such cases, but sun exposure is almost certainly a critical piece. Soaking in the warmth of the sun is one of the most relaxing activities we share with all living creatures.
Oxidation is a chemical reaction necessary to good health. However, many disease conditions result in excessive oxidation with insufficient natural antioxidant protectors. This results in the release of free radicals and undesirable chemical reactions. Free radicals are able to damage proteins, membranes, DNA, and also produce excessive inflammation. As an example, research has shown Autism is linked to oxidative stress as a result of free radicals from toxic metals, smog, pesticides, biotoxins, infections, radiation, and chemical waste products.
We can test for deficiencies of certain nutrients, minerals, and biomarkers that can affect normal free radical control and healthy brain function. Our goal is to support the brain’s already existing mechanisms for oxidative management. Here are a few of the things we test for and why.
Zinc is the most common depleted nutrient found in mental health diseases, including autism. Zinc is a component of more than 200 enzymes functioning as antioxidants, converting B-6 to PLP, supporting synthesis of neurotransmitters, and inhibition of NMDA receptors. In addition Zinc is valuable in building reserves of Metallothionein which blocks and aids in the removal of toxic metals as they try to cross the gastrointestinal and brain barriers. Optimized levels of zinc bring significant improvements to patients and is a powerful generator of superoxide dismutase(SOD), our body’s most important free radical fighter.
Excess copper has been linked to neurological symptoms including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, ADHD, and Autism. Copper is used to convert dopamine to norepinephrine and epinephrine. Too much copper leads to an excess of these two chemicals which causes neurological symptoms. Copper also has other functions within the brain that can be affected by having too much, including depression of Zinc levels and oxidative stress.
Copper and Zinc levels are usually inversely related. Where we see high levels of copper, we also see low levels of zinc. Increasing zinc helps the body decrease copper. Normalizing the ratio of copper to zinc is an important area of treatment which is helpful to the various populations.
Selenium is a non-metal chemical element. It can serve many purposes within the brain. It aids in glutathione activity and can affect hormonal and neurotransmitter activity. It is also effective at combating the neurotoxicity of certain metals. A deficiency in selenium can affect any one of these aspects, with the additional activity of helping regenerate our most potent free radical fighter, Super Oxide
Magnesium is another mineral that is vital to healthy brain function. It plays a role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and brain. It aids in muscle contractions, DNA and RNA synthesis, efficient nerve signaling, and protecting neuronal cells from oxidative stress.