There are many types of nutritional deficiency, but here is a short list of some of the usual causes in this country:
a. Food allergy or intolerance caused by chronic mucosal irritation, and often directly by the very limited and restricted diets many of my patients must follow as a result of their worsening food intolerances
b. Intestinal dysbiosis (or unbalanced or "bad" organisms in the intestinal tract), often as a result of chronic food intolerance and/or chronic use or abuse of antibiotics
c. Achlorhydria (little or no acid in the stomach) – common in adults over 40 and asthmatic children - we need stomach acid to dissolve the minerals from our foods. Consider that the next time you take your little purple pill!
d. Chronic inflammation due to more serious problems like
2) enteritis (Crohn’s, “terminal ileitis”, etc.)
3) colitis (ulcerative, IBS, etc.)
4) chronic use NSAIDs, corticosteroids, others
Another major issue is that a vast number of patients now take histamine-blocking agents for indigestion, heartburn and gastric reflux (GERD). These drugs act by blocking acid production in the stomach. What's wrong with that, you ask? We need that acid to dissolve the essential minerals from our foods! Hydrochloric acid dissolves many of the minerals from our foods - it was put there for a reason. So, many patients who take these types of drugs on a daily basis are simply not getting the nutrients they need, because they've "neutralized" one of the major methods our bodies offer us to utilize the few nutrients we do get!
Many Environmental physicians saw that writing on the wall, once the H2 blockers hit the market. Sure enough, medical studies appeared demonstrating a marked increase in the incidence of osteoporosis in patients who took these medications. And calcium is one of the easiest minerals to measure. Think about what's happening with the trace minerals which are much harder to measure and to study and are of vital importance in most enzymatic reactions in the body!
Think of that the next time you take that "purple pill". By the way, the solution to this problem is to eliminate the foods that are causing the symptoms at first, and then treat the sensitivities with immunotherapy (LDA) so these foods may be safely eaten without causing irritation.
By far the most common cause of nutritional deficiencies in this country is the inadequate intake of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we need. It never ceases to amaze me how few vegetables and whole foods we eat as a population compared to 50 years ago. Adequate nutrition almost cannot be found in our population today. Each "essential" vitamin and other nutrient we need performs scores if not thousands of critical functions in the human body - that's why they're called "essential". Since we need many, many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for our bodies function normally, process the free radicals we produce every second and detoxify chemicals and other substances in our environment, what happens if we just don't have them?
Well, we see exactly what's happening today - an increasing incidence of degenerative and autoimmune diseases. Modern medicine has performed near miracles for acute illness (heart attacks, fractures, injuries, etc.), but it does little for the daily degeneration of tissue caused by inadequate nutrient intake. At least the FDA has now declared that Trans Fatty Acids are terribly toxic.
This is why nutrition is so important in my practice, and we strongly encourage our patients to eat right and take appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements on a daily basis. And I don't mean "one-a-day" types of vitamins - you might as well throw those out in the street for all the benefit they offer when compared to more complete supplements produced by the smaller companies who only do that for a living. People - especially those who have one of the reasons I listed as to why they may not absorb nutrients correctly - need supplements that are easy to absorb and are metabolically available to produce benefit. Nutrients today can offer amazing results, if you take the right ones!
I feel it's important that most of my patients take nutritional supplements.
Many patients who come to see me take them, but the combinations are wrong, or
the supplements they take are not easily or well absorbed.
We can remedy this problem with nutrients that are simple and safe. You really don't have to take 50 different nutrients a day to feel well!
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Santa Fe Center for Allergy and Environmental Medicine