• Do You Need A Blood Test To Prove A True Nutrient Deficiency Before Taking Dietary Supplements? NO!

    Posted March 17, 2013: by Bill Sardi

    It is predictable that some know-it-all physician would warn the public away from my health articles, and suggest people should not take dietary supplements without a blood test-confirmed nutrient deficiency.  Why must I educate physicians?  Everyone knows they are dumbbells when it comes to dietary supplements.

    This MD demands I provide him with references that would require hours of work.  I’ll send him a copy of my book THE NEW TRUTH ABOUT VITAMINS & MINERALS.

    But let’s briefly take a look at some science to answer an important question.  Do we really need a blood test before we supplement our diet with vitamins and minerals?

    Are blood tests needed before you supplement with vitamin B12?

    If attempting to solely rely upon serum blood levels to detect vitamin B12 deficiency, many patients without overt anemia but with neuropsychiatric abnormalities (depression, short-term memory problems) may fail to be detected.  Consumption of oral B12 in the face of a normal blood serum test may increase memory and energy levels in certain individuals.

    An estimated 10 to 30 percent of adults over 50 years of age have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 due to declining secretion of stomach juice.  Senior adults may absorb as little as 1% of vitamin B12 from their diet and supplements.  Oftentimes seniors require B12 shots.  However, a 2000 mcg oral dose of vitamin B12 has been found to be equivalent to a 1000 mcg B12 injection and would eliminate the need for doctor visits.

    If a doctor or patient assumes they are vitamin B12 sufficient when supplementing with 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance, which is defined as: “the average daily dietary nutrient intake level sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97 to 98%) healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group,” they may be making a big mistake.  Obviously, the current RDA for vitamin B12 is out of date.

    A significant number of people with normal or even elevated vitamin B12 blood serum levels may have a hidden deficiency.  Other measures of B12 deficiency may need to be employed (methylmalonic acid levels, or homocysteine).

    Insufficient availability of vitamin B12 will lead to the undesirable accumulation of methylmalonic acid and homocysteine in the body.

    If elevated homocysteine or methylmalonic acid as markers of B12 deficiency, more than 4 of 10 vegetarians and up to 75% of the elderly vitamin B12 deficient.

    In one study, the prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency was 5.8% among diabetics taking a B12- depleting drug (metformin) compared to 2.4% among diabetics not taking this drug.  The consumption of any vitamin B12 supplement was associated with two-thirds reduction in deficiency among healthy adults but zero reduction of B12 deficiency among diabetics.  This would suggest all diabetics receive B12 pills.  A B12 shortage should be presumed without a blood test.

    The prevalence of B12 deficiency increases with advancing age, ranging from less than 1% to 46% in aging populations.  Again, the prevalence of B12 deficiency is so large among retirees that this speaks for across-the-board supplementation rather than required blood testing.

    Are blood tests needed before supplementing the diet with zinc pills?

    The majority of zinc is stored inside cells and is not free in the blood. Blood tests of zinc are generally not accurate.

    Six different trials show that subclinical deficiency of zinc impairs brain function in children and adults.  (Subclinical means without apparent signs and symptoms that are detectable by physical examination or laboratory test.)

    Since blood plasma zinc levels do not correlate with zinc intake, such a test cannot be used to ascertain the effectiveness of zinc supplements.

    Patricia Hausman in her book THE RIGHT DOSE explains that “the best proof of zinc deficiency is the presence of some of its typical symptoms (mental depression, fatigue, hair loss, diarrhea, reduced resistance to infection or delayed wound healing, reduced sense of taste or smell) followed by their improvement or disappearance after supplementation.”

    Should blood tests be conducted for other vitamins and minerals before considering supplementation?

    Vitamin D is so common above the seventh decade of life that any type of screening may be considered needless.

    Researchers pooled the results of nine large studies and concluded that 700 milligrams of daily vitamin C, an amount only achieved through the preventive use of dietary supplements, would reduce the relative risk for coronary heart disease by 25 percent.  Why perform expensive blood tests and also includes a charge for a doctor’s office visit?  Blood levels are not needed.  The benefit was apparent without testing.

    Consider what conventional doctors repeatedly do – test for circulating levels of cholesterol in the blood.  When elevated, they prescribe liver-toxic cholesterol-lowering pills.  Yet in a human study published in 1977, Emil Ginter of Slovakia reported that 500 milligrams of vitamin C taken twice a day lowered circulating cholesterol levels and the effect lasted for six weeks after vitamin C was stopped.  Ginter said: “In every form of high cholesterol, an adequate vitamin C supply should be ensured in doses capable of creating maximal steady-state levels of vitamin C in human tissues.”

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    For readers of this column, blood samples are notoriously inaccurate for zinc, magnesium and vitamin B12 and other nutrients.  And just what blood level of vitamin B12 would be adequate for an individual with H pylori infection which impairs B12 absorption, or vitamin C for smokers whose habit depletes vitamin C?   In fact, a therapeutic trial is often suggested as the only way of knowing whether nutrition therapy will be helpful.

    Furthermore, imagine the idea of testing every person taking nutrient-depleting prescription drugs?  That would be costly.  Supplements should be prescribed for every patient taking nutrient depleting drugs, period.

    Common Drugs and Nutrients They Deplete


    Cipro– depletes most B vitamins, vitamin K,  magnesium

    Antidepressants: Zoloft- Paxil, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Celexa– antidepressant

    Substitutes: folic acid, zinc, fish oil, magnesium, SAMe, Vit. D

    Atenolol- metaprolol – beta blocker – depletes coenzyme Q10 Acetaminophen- Tylenol– depletes glutathione Anti-inflammatory

    Vioxx, Bextra, Celebrex, ibuprofen, diclofenac, –  depeletes folic acid

    Advair– depletes calcium, magnesium, potassium, folic acid, vitamins C, D and zinc Aspirin
    Depletes vitamin C, folic acid, iron
    Allegra– substitute quercetin + vitamin C Ant-acids: Protonix, Prevacid, Aciphex, Zantac, Prilosec, depletes vitamin B12 Buspar– substitute magnesium, omega-3 fish oil
    Cholesterol-lowering: Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor

    Depletes coenzyme Q10

    Claritin– substitute quercetin + vitamin C Depakote– depletes carnitine, folic acid Doxycycline, tetracycline – depletes most B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium, iron Dilantin– depletes biotin, calcium, folic acid, vitamins B1, B12, D & K
    Diuretics– Lasix (furosemide)- Hydrochlorothiazide, Valsartan– depletes calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, vitamins B1, B6, C and zinc Digoxin- Lanoxin– depletes calcium, magnesium phosphorus, vitamin B1 Enalapril– depletes zinc Elavil– depletes conezyme Q10 and vitamin B2 Fosamax– Substitute Vitamin D
    Glucophage- Metformin- depletes folic acid, vitamin B12 Lisinopril– depletes zinc Lithium– depletes inositol Methotrexate– Depletes folic acid Naproxen-depletes folic acid
    Prednisone- steroid: depletes folic acid, vitamins C, D, zinc, selenium, calcium, magnesium, potassium Premarin, estrogen, birth control pills– depletes magnesium and vitamin B6 Toprol– depletes coenzyme Q10 Verapamil– calcium blocker Substitute magnesium Vicodin

    Depletes: Glutathione

    Millions of Americans are working towards a dietary deficiency every day. Roughly 20 million Americans take an aspirin tablet daily, depleting folic acid, vitamin C and iron.  An estimated 19 million take heartburn remedies (histamine blockers) that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption; 12 million take statin cholesterol lowering drugs that deplete the body of coenzyme q10; 14 million Americans are heavy drinkers of alcohol and nearly all will develop shortages of vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B6, magnesium; 17 million American women take oral contraceptives that promote deficiencies of vitamin B6, folic acid, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and increase the need for magnesium and vitamin C; and finally 48 million Americans smoke tobacco that depletes the body of 25 milligrams of vitamin C per cigarette and depletes the body of carotenoids like lutein. Makers of these drugs or products don’t have to disclose their products cause nutritional deficiencies. And we wonder why Americans aren’t healthy?

    The problem with the idea of testing everybody before prescribing vitamins is impractical.  There are so many millions that are deficient that this speaks for widespread supplementation, not selective blood testing.  – ® Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.

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