A Targeted Supplementation Plan May Alter What You Believe About Taking Vitamins

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A Targeted Supplementation Plan May Alter What You Believe About Taking Vitamins

What is targeted supplementation?


This concept, quietly endorsed by mainstream medicine, may alter what you believe about taking vitamins.

A very common misconception about taking supplements is that if some is good, more is better.  This is unequivocally not true.  In 99% of people taking supplements, they have neither tested their blood for specific nutrient deficiencies, nor have they tailored their supplements to their own biochemistry.  The truth is, supplements – which includes vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and other compounds – can act like medicine.  Nutrients in supplement form can be very powerful healing tools, but can also cause problems when used indiscriminately. In other words, you wouldn’t take medicine you don’t need.  Why take supplements you don’t need?

 

This is where the concept of targeted supplementation takes hold.   The best and safest way to supplement is to target your supplements specifically to your personal nutritional deficiencies, which can be measured objectively with blood tests.  Repleting a depleted cell is where the magic happens.   

 

Taking this one step further, how do you know you are taking the supplements that your body really does require?  If your car needed oil, but instead you put in gasoline, it would not run optimally, no matter how full the gas tank.  Although infinitely more complicated, your body works similarly and the basic concept holds true:  if you give your body (more specifically, your cells) the wrong nutrient, no matter how much you ingest, it won’t fix the problem.

 

Another common misconception is that what is good for one person, is probably good for most people.  That is not always the case.  Perhaps you are deficient in zinc and this manifests as frequent infections (zinc helps fight viruses) and low energy.  If your blood cells are deficient in this mineral and you replete it, you may experience symptomatic relief of fatigue and a more robust immune system.  Great.  You tell your friends that zinc helped you.  They decide to supplement like you. 

 

Here’s where it gets tricky.  Perhaps they also had frequent infections and fatigue, but their cells were replete (levels were fine) in zinc, but deficient in say, vitamin A.  Interestingly, a vitamin A deficiency can also make someone more susceptible to viral infections and is also linked to fatigue (low vitamin A decreases mitochondrial respiration and ATP production in the cell leading to fatigue), but through a completely different mechanism of action.

 

You can see where this is going:  both of you feel tired and get a lot of infections.  You are deficient in zinc, your friend is deficient in vitamin A.  If your friend takes zinc because you did and it helped you, she is not solving her deficiency problem.  But it is worse than that because taking copious amounts of exogenous zinc can induce a deficiency in copper, since the two minerals work together.  So, after several months, your friend will likely remain deficient in vitamin A and potentially create a deficiency in copper, all the while spending money of zinc supplements that do her no good (at best) and cause more problems (at worst).

 

That is why targeted supplementation is key.  Better stated, targeted supplementation is really personalized supplementation.  Supplementing blindly may not solve the underlying problem – which is the cellular nutritional deficiency that is specific to you – and can even cause new problems.

 

Since micronutrients (which includes vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and other compounds) work synergistically, there exists an important and delicate balance of nutrients.  Taking too much of one nutrient may induce a deficiency in another nutrient by disturbing the biochemical balance they have with each other.  The key is targeted supplementation, which means supplementing to correct nutritional deficiencies specific to you. 

 

That is why it is imperative to test your blood for nutritional deficiencies prior to developing a supplementation regimen.  You should target the nutrients in which your cells are deficient, and supplement accordingly.  This is when nutrient repletion can work wonders.   If your cells are starving for vitamin A, giving them zinc will not quench their metabolic thirst!

 

One of the most read editorials in 2018 in the uber-respected JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) addressed this very topic. It suggested “targeted supplementation may be warranted in high-risk groups,” examples being people with anemia, pregnant women, those with digestive issues and people taking long-term medications.   They even go further by stating that nutrient trials should “allow for analysis by baseline nutrient status, a potentially important modifier of the treatment effect.1  

 

This is huge.  Mainstream medicine is advocating for measuring nutrient status before recommending supplements.  This most respected of all medical journals is advocating for a targeted approach to supplementation.   Quite a vindicating statement for those who have proposed the 'Test, Don’t Guess' approach over indiscriminate use of supplements.

 

Medical literature is notoriously pharmaceutically slanted but still, there is excellent research being done on micronutrients and their role in health.  What is particularly interesting, though, is that studies are now demonstrating what we intuitively should know – that if some is good, more is not always better. 

 

Case in point:  Selenium is a mineral our cells use in regulating a lot of our hormones.  There are more than 25 selenoproteins (enzymes we need that use selenium as a cofactor) currently known and all play a key role in some aspect of healthy cell physiology.  A study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet reiterated our point – when it comes to selenium, too little is bad and too much is bad. 

 

There is a “U-shaped link with status; whereas additional selenium intake may benefit individuals with low status, those with adequate-to-high status might be affected adversely and should not take selenium supplements.” Too little selenium is linked to low thyroid function, heart disease, infertility or cancer, but too much selenium is linked to type 2 diabetes.  Simply stated, more is not always better.  The implication is clear – measuring baseline status is necessary to determine appropriate supplementation.2

 

A 2017 study published in JAMA Cardiology came to a similar conclusion – that measuring baseline nutritional status is important.  It was a study that followed over 13,000 doctors (part of the larger Physicians’ Health Study) and whether taking a multivitamin helped decrease their risk of heart disease. 

 

Their conclusion stated that we “…should use nutritional biomarkers as more objective assessments of baseline nutritional status that account for differences in absorption and metabolism…”   This was published in the most prestigious of all medical journals, suggesting that measuring nutrient status may someday become the norm.3

 

Spectracell does not sell supplements.  It is simply a laboratory that measures nutritional status on white blood cells called lymphocytes.  Their flagship blood test, eponymously called the Spectracell Micronutrient Test (or, MNT for short)  gives you a report based on the performance of your actual living, (metaphorically) breathing blood cells.  It is not based on an algorithm or dietary intake questionnaires.  It is a blood test with results specific to you.  Based on the results, you can target your supplementation.

 

Test, Don’t Guess.  Order your Spectracell MNT today.

 

References:

1Manson.  Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: What Clinicians Need to Know, JAMA 2018.
2Raymand MP.  Selenium and human health. Lancet 2012.
3Rautiainen et al.  Effect of Baseline Nutritional Status on Long-term Mulitvitamin Use and Cardiovascular Disease Risk. JAMA Cardiology 2017.

 
 
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