Vitamin Vitality



Vitamin Vitality


Hello and welcome to the podcast, I’m Dr. Michael Wald, also known as the BloodDetective. Today, we will be discussing the importance of nutritional supplements and how specific lab tests can help determine if you have nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional supplements are essential for maintaining optimal health, as they provide the body with essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that may be lacking in our diets. However, it’s crucial to understand which specific nutrients your body needs, and this is where lab tests come into play. By analyzing various biomarkers and nutrient levels in the body, we can identify deficiencies and tailor a targeted supplement regimen to address these specific needs. Join me as we delve into the world of nutritional supplements and the vital role of lab testing in optimizing health.

Vitamin supplements can be a helpful addition to one’s diet, but it’s important to understand what they are and how they work before taking them.

Vitamins are essential nutrients that our bodies need to function properly. They play a vital role in maintaining our overall health and well-being, and a deficiency in any one of them can lead to a variety of health problems. There are 13 vitamins that our bodies need, and they are divided into two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins A, D, E, and K, are stored in the body’s fatty tissues and can accumulate to toxic levels if taken in excess. Water-soluble vitamins, which include the B vitamins and vitamin C, are not stored in the body and excess amounts are excreted in the urine.

Vitamin supplements can be helpful for people who are deficient in a particular vitamin, or for those who have a medical condition that makes it difficult for their body to absorb certain vitamins. For example, people with celiac disease may have a hard time absorbing vitamin B12, so they may need to take a supplement.

However, it’s important to note that vitamin supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources will provide all the necessary vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need. In fact, taking too many vitamin supplements can be harmful and even lead to serious health problems.

For example, taking too much vitamin A can cause headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision, while too much vitamin E can increase the risk of bleeding. Taking too much vitamin C can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea, while too much vitamin B6 can cause numbness in the hands and feet.

In addition, some vitamin supplements can interact with medications or have adverse effects when taken in combination with other supplements or medications. For example, taking vitamin E with blood-thinning medications can increase the risk of bleeding, while taking vitamin C with iron supplements can reduce the absorption of iron.

Therefore, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional before starting any vitamin supplement regimen. They can help determine which vitamins you may be deficient in and recommend the appropriate supplements and dosages.

In conclusion, vitamin supplements can be helpful for people who are deficient in certain vitamins or have a medical condition that makes it difficult for their body to absorb certain vitamins. However, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen and to be aware of the potential risks and interactions associated with vitamin supplements.

Nutritional Supplements vs. Foods: Understanding the Role of Each

Nutritional supplements and whole foods both play essential roles in maintaining a healthy diet and meeting the body’s nutritional needs. However, it’s important to understand that while supplements can complement a balanced diet, they are not a replacement for whole foods.

The Role of Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements are products designed to provide nutrients that may be missing or insufficient in a person’s diet. They come in various forms such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and other substances. These supplements can be beneficial for individuals who have specific nutritional deficiencies or those who require additional nutrients due to certain health conditions.

Supplements can also be useful for certain groups of people, such as pregnant women who need extra folic acid or iron, or older adults who may benefit from vitamin D and calcium supplementation for bone health. Additionally, individuals with restricted diets, such as vegans or those with food allergies, may use supplements to ensure they are meeting their nutritional requirements.

The Importance of Whole Foods

Whole foods, on the other hand, refer to natural, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Whole foods provide a wide array of essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients that are beneficial for overall health.

Whole foods offer numerous advantages beyond just providing essential nutrients. They often contain additional compounds that have health-promoting properties and are linked to reducing the risk of chronic diseases. For example, fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that may help protect against conditions like heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Complementary Roles

It’s important to recognize that nutritional supplements and whole foods can complement each other in supporting overall health. While whole foods should form the foundation of a healthy diet due to their comprehensive nutrient profile and additional health benefits, supplements can fill specific gaps in one’s nutrition.

However, relying solely on supplements without consuming a variety of whole foods can lead to missing out on the synergistic effects of nutrients found in natural food sources. Whole foods provide a complex matrix of nutrients that work together synergistically to support optimal health and well-being.

Conclusion: Nutritional Supplements Are Not a Replacement for Foods

In conclusion, while nutritional supplements can be valuable for addressing specific nutritional needs or deficiencies, they are not a replacement for whole foods. A well-balanced diet based on a variety of whole foods remains the cornerstone of good nutrition. Supplements should be used judiciously to complement a healthy eating pattern rather than serving as a substitute for a diverse and nutrient-rich diet.


  1. National Institutes of Health (NIH): The NIH is a leading source of reliable information on dietary supplements and their role in nutrition.
  2. Mayo Clinic: The Mayo Clinic provides evidence-based insights into the use of nutritional supplements and their relationship to whole foods.
  3. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: This institution offers comprehensive research and guidance on nutrition, including the role of supplements versus whole foods in a healthy diet.

Introduction to Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements are products designed to provide nutrients that may not be consumed in sufficient quantities through diet alone. They can include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and other substances that are beneficial for health. These supplements can help fortify the diet by providing specific amounts of various nutrients, thereby addressing deficiencies and supporting overall well-being.

Examples of Nutritional Supplements

  1. Iron: Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. Iron supplements can be particularly beneficial for individuals with iron-deficiency anemia or those at risk of developing it, such as pregnant women.
  2. Fish Oil: Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are known for their cardiovascular benefits and their role in supporting brain health.
  3. Calcium: Calcium is crucial for bone health and muscle function. Calcium supplements are often recommended for individuals who do not consume enough dairy or are at risk of osteoporosis.
  4. Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and bone health. It also plays a role in immune function and mood regulation. Many people, especially those in regions with limited sunlight exposure, may benefit from vitamin D supplementation.
  5. Vitamin B12: This vitamin is essential for nerve function and the production of DNA and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 supplements are commonly recommended for vegetarians and vegans who may have limited dietary sources of this nutrient.
  6. Probiotics: Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that support gut health and digestion. They can help maintain a healthy balance of gut microflora and aid in the treatment of certain digestive issues.
  7. Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, including energy production and muscle function. Magnesium supplements can be beneficial for individuals with magnesium deficiency or those experiencing muscle cramps.
  8. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports immune function, skin health, and wound healing. Supplementing with vitamin C may be beneficial during times of increased stress or illness.
  9. Zinc: Zinc is important for immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis. Zinc supplements are commonly used to support immune health and reduce the duration of colds.
  10. Folate (Folic Acid): Folate is crucial for cell division and the prevention of neural tube defects during pregnancy. Folate supplements are often recommended for pregnant women to ensure adequate intake.

Benefits of Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements can provide specific amounts of various vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, proteins, phytonutrients, and other essential nutrients that may be lacking in an individual’s diet. They can help address nutritional deficiencies, support overall health and well-being, and complement dietary intake to meet specific nutritional needs.

In conclusion, nutritional supplements play a valuable role in fortifying the diet by providing essential nutrients that may be lacking in regular food consumption. When used appropriately and under the guidance of healthcare professionals, these supplements can contribute to optimal health and well-being.

Advantages of Taking Nutritional Supplements Versus Foods

  1. Convenience: Nutritional supplements are convenient as they come in various forms such as pills, powders, and liquids, making them easy to consume on the go, especially for individuals with busy lifestyles.
  2. Nutrient Concentration: Supplements can provide a concentrated dose of specific nutrients that may be lacking in one’s diet, ensuring that the body receives essential vitamins and minerals in adequate amounts.
  3. Nutrient Absorption: Some individuals may have difficulty absorbing nutrients from food due to digestive issues or medical conditions. In such cases, supplements can provide a more easily absorbable form of nutrients.
  4. Customization: Supplements can be tailored to meet individual nutritional needs, allowing for personalized supplementation based on factors such as age, gender, activity level, and specific health concerns.
  5. Targeted Support: Certain supplements are designed to address specific health concerns or support particular bodily functions, providing targeted support that may not be easily achievable through diet alone.
  6. Bioavailability: In some cases, the nutrients in supplements may have higher bioavailability compared to those found in foods, meaning they are more readily absorbed and utilized by the body.
  7. Consistency: Nutritional supplements offer consistency in nutrient content, as the dosage is standardized and does not fluctuate based on factors such as food preparation methods or seasonal variations in produce.
  8. Concentration of Phytonutrients: Supplements can provide concentrated amounts of beneficial plant compounds (phytonutrients) that may be challenging to obtain in sufficient quantities from food alone.
  9. Fill Nutritional Gaps: For individuals with restricted diets or specific dietary preferences (e.g., vegetarian or vegan), supplements can help fill potential nutritional gaps that may arise from limited food choices.
  10. Convenience for Specific Groups: Certain population groups such as the elderly or individuals with medical conditions may find it more convenient to obtain essential nutrients through supplements due to challenges related to chewing, swallowing, or digesting certain foods.
  11. Support During Illness or Recovery: During illness or recovery from certain medical procedures, nutritional supplements can play a supportive role in meeting increased nutrient demands and aiding the body’s healing process.
  12. Enhanced Performance: Athletes and individuals engaged in intense physical activity may benefit from specific supplements designed to enhance performance, support muscle recovery, and optimize energy metabolism.
  13. Long-Term Storage Stability: Unlike perishable foods that have limited shelf life, many nutritional supplements have long-term stability when stored properly, ensuring that the nutrients remain available for an extended period.
  14. Controlled Intake of Specific Nutrients: Supplements allow for precise control over the intake of specific nutrients, which can be particularly beneficial when targeting therapeutic doses for certain health conditions.
  15. Compliance with Dietary Guidelines: In some cases where dietary restrictions or medical conditions make it challenging to meet recommended nutrient intakes through food alone, supplements can help individuals comply with established dietary guidelines and prevent deficiencies.

Laboratory Tests for Identifying Nutritional Deficiencies

  1. Urinary Vitamin C Levels: A test measuring the concentration of vitamin C in the urine can help identify a deficiency in this essential nutrient. Low levels may indicate a deficiency, while high levels could suggest excess intake or impaired absorption.
  2. Urinary Calcium: Urinary calcium levels can be indicative of calcium deficiency or excess. Low levels may suggest a deficiency, while high levels could indicate excessive intake or impaired excretion.
  3. Rouleaux Formation: This is a phenomenon where red blood cells stack on top of each other like a stack of coins, which can be indicative of various conditions including nutritional deficiencies such as protein deficiency.
  4. Macrocytosis: A condition characterized by larger-than-normal red blood cells, which can be associated with deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamin B12 and folate.
  5. Serum Iron: Low serum iron levels can indicate an iron deficiency, which is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies worldwide.
  6. Total Iron-Binding Capacity (TIBC): TIBC measures the body’s capacity to bind iron with transferrin, and elevated TIBC can be indicative of iron deficiency anemia.
  7. Ferritin: Ferritin is a protein that stores iron, and low levels of ferritin in the blood can indicate an iron deficiency.
  8. Transferrin Saturation: This test measures the percentage of transferrin that is saturated with iron and can provide insight into iron deficiency or overload.
  9. Complete Blood Count (CBC): A CBC can reveal abnormalities in red blood cell count, hemoglobin, and hematocrit, which may point to various nutritional deficiencies such as iron, vitamin B12, or folate deficiencies.
  10. Vitamin B12 Level: Measuring the concentration of vitamin B12 in the blood can help identify a deficiency in this essential nutrient, which is crucial for red blood cell formation and neurological function.
  11. Folate Level: Folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B9, plays a key role in DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation. Testing for folate levels can help identify deficiencies.
  12. Vitamin D Level: Vitamin D deficiency is common worldwide and can be identified through blood tests measuring the concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
  13. Zinc Level: Zinc is an essential mineral involved in numerous physiological processes, and testing for zinc levels can help identify deficiencies that may impact immune function and wound healing.
  14. Magnesium Level: Magnesium plays a crucial role in various biochemical reactions in the body, and testing for magnesium levels can help identify deficiencies associated with muscle cramps, weakness, and cardiac arrhythmias.
  15. Selenium Level: Selenium is an important antioxidant mineral, and testing for selenium levels can help identify deficiencies that may impact thyroid function and immune response.
  16. Iodine Level: Iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production, and testing for iodine levels can help identify deficiencies that may lead to thyroid disorders such as goiter or hypothyroidism.
  17. Copper Level: Copper is involved in energy production, connective tissue formation, and iron metabolism. Testing for copper levels can help identify deficiencies associated with anemia and neurological symptoms.
  18. Vitamin A Level: Vitamin A plays a critical role in vision, immune function, and cellular communication. Testing for vitamin A levels can help identify deficiencies that may impact vision and immune response.
  19. Vitamin E Level: Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that protects cells from oxidative damage. Testing for vitamin E levels can help identify deficiencies associated with neurological symptoms and muscle weakness.
  20. Plasma Amino Acid Analysis: This test measures the concentrations of amino acids in the blood and can help identify deficiencies in essential amino acids necessary for protein synthesis and various physiological functions.

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*DISCLAIMER: Dr. Michael Wald is a doctor of chiropractic with a masters degree in nutrition. He is also a Certified Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Nutritional Specialist and Sports Nutritionist. Dr. Wald is certified to provide acupuncture in several states, but not New York. Dr. Wald has two board certifications in nutrition. Dr. Michael Wald earned his MD diploma, but did not complete a residency and is thus not licensed to practice medicine. The information on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not to substitute for sound medical or health advice. Information contained within this website may change at any time without prior notice. The information on this website is under copyright, 2021.