supplements

Do you need to take supplements? And if so, which ones?

Photo credit:  pixabay.com

Photo credit: pixabay.com

 

In functional medicine, we focus on natural ways to improve our health. That means food first. The functional medicine approach looks for the underlying causes of disease and illness and addresses it in order to improve health status. Health begins in the gut and often the underlying cause of what ails us is digestive and metabolic dysfunction.

 

Functional medicine practitioners use nutrient supplements, along with food, in clinical practice as the primary tools of treatment.

 

I've been asked, can't food be enough? After all, as a clinical nutritionist the expectation is that I'm going to create a diet plan to make you feel better. Yes! This is part of what I do. 

 

Sometimes, food isn't enough. This can happen as we age and bodily processes slow down and need a little extra help, when we have a functional deficit in a metabolic pathway, when our hormones become imbalanced, and when our guts aren't functioning the way they're supposed to. These are just some examples of when we may need a little more than what even the best, most thought through food plan can provide.

 

Our every day lives expose us to stress, environmental toxins, and lack of physical activity. We also experience inadequate exposure to sunlight, and many other problems associated with the 'conveniences' of Western society.

 

It is for these reasons that we can benefit from supplementing our healthful diets with extra nutrients. Some can help support metabolic pathways and therefore the biochemical reactions that make our bodies run. Others help support our immune system and combat oxidative stress and inflammation, two causes of chronic and complex disease.

 

I do believe that most of us can benefit from taking certain supplements. 

 

To learn more about my take on specific supplement recommendations, and for access to professional grade ones --> click here <--.

 

Nutrient supplements are not medications. Prescription medications work by altering metabolic pathways, and even sometimes by shutting them down. All of the processes in our body are connected. When one is interrupted it can affect all others leading to chronic and complex disease. Nutrient supplements provide fuel (just as food can, when all else is in balance) for these processes to help them run. This is the difference between conventional medicine and the functional approach. 

 

So, are nutrient supplements necessary, and can't we get everything we need from food? My answers are yes, and maybe not. 

 

Most of us know what a healthy diet should look like. When you are following a healthful eating plan and are still having symptoms that can't be explained or tied to anything in particular, this is when food may not be enough. If this sounds familiar I can help you get to the bottom of it.

 

To contact me --> click here <--.

 

If you're ready for a strategy session with me --> click here <--.

 

Are you looking for general information and just want to pick my brain? --> click here <--.

 

 "Your nutritional needs are as unique as your fingerprint, and they are dictated by your individual biochemistry. As a functional and clinical nutritionist, I can help you interpret your body's nutrient needs and customize a plan to reach your health and wellness goals. This is personalized nutrition."
-Jennifer Caryn Brand, MPH, MS, CNS, Functional and Clinical Nutritionist
 


Wishing you a delicious weekend!



Jennifer
Functional and Clinical Nutritionist

MTHFR. WTH?

What the _ _ _ _ is MTHFR? I've found myself explaining this to several clients recently.

 

I felt like I had a never-ending influx of clients with skin problems, and now MTHFR is popping up.  There are some connections, because of course things are always connected. If you've been following me you're probably aware of this!

 

We tend to look at our symptoms as isolated problems, and this is why we don’t get better. Our symptoms are our body’s attempt to tell us something is wrong. Instead of listening to our bodies, we shut them up with medications.  All this does is mask symptoms, allowing underlying dysfunction to continue. Until we address it, deterioration continues, and now we are unaware this is happening because symptoms are covered up… until new symptoms pop up. And they will, because remember everything is connected, and that underlying dysfunction is still present and still causing further deterioration. 

 

MTHFR is a gene that makes an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This enzyme is involved in what are called methylation reactions, which act like a switch turning things on and off in your body. These reactions are needed to process amino acids to make proteins, for RNA and DNA synthesis, detoxification, breaking down histamine, and much more.

 

This enzyme is necessary for chemical reactions that use vitamin B9, which is folate, or folic acid (the synthetic version of folate). It converts folic acid into a form that can be used by your body (methylfolate). Vitamins B12 and B6 are also important for methylation reactions, in particular converting homocysteine into methionine (something we want to have happen).

 

When MTHFR isn’t working, these reactions are interrupted and a wide range of problems can result, including those associated with a deficiency of these B vitamins.

 

If you have MTHFR and take supplements, it is important to avoid folic acid. You want to take the appropriate, activated forms of these B vitamins, and eat foods that naturally contain them.

 

To learn more about nutrients that support methylation and foods they are in --> click here <-- to access my therapeutic diet for methylation.

 

Folate is absolutely necessary for a healthy nervous system, normal growth and development (this is why women are instructed to take supplemental folic acid when of childbearing age, as the fetus needs it to grow and develop normally) and forming red blood cells. Symptoms of folate deficiency are many and can include:

 

  • Anemia

  • Cracks in the corners of the mouth

  • Red, sore tongue

  • Irritability

  • Depression

  • Fatigue

  • Forgetfulness

  • Lack of concentration

  • Mental confusion

  • Insomnia

  • Anxiety

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Muscle weakness

  • Numbness in legs

  • Difficulty in walking

  • Cramps

  • Digestive problems

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Hypoglycemia

  • Birth defects

  • Gout

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Diabetes

  • Poor appetite

 

Symptoms of folate deficiency are similar to B12 deficiency. In fact, treating folate deficiency alone can mask the symptoms of B12 deficiency. This is a serious problem because B12 deficiency can cause irreversible neurological and nerve damage. GET TESTED!

 

There are different forms of the MTHFR mutation, and depending on which you have it may cause more severe problems. Problems associated with MTHFR may include:

 

  • Elevated homocysteine (associated with an increased risk for heart disease)

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Thyroid disorders

  • Migraine

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome

  • Problems with fertility and pregnancy

  • And more…

 

What's the connection between MTHFR and skin? Itchy skin for example, is often associated with histamine reactions. Histamine is released by cells in your immune system when there is a trigger. Histamine is responsible for allergy-like symptoms we get, and this is why anti-histamines are prescribed and work to keep allergy symptoms under control, including itching. This means that excess histamine can lead to uncontrollable allergy symptoms, including itching.

 

Histamine is broken down by methylation. If methylation isn’t working, you can have excess histamine, and symptoms associated with it (like itching). Histamine is made in the body naturally, and it’s also found in a variety of foods. When histamine coming in exceeds histamine going out, which is more common in those with MTHFR, symptoms can result and persist.

 

Also, folic acid increases histamine levels, and methylfolate degrades it. Deficiency of methylfolate leads to high levels of histamine, and those with MTHFR are very often deficient.

 

What to do? If you have symptoms like those mentioned and can’t seem to figure out why, getting checked for MTHFR is a good idea. You can also check your homocysteine levels, and there are indicators of B12 and B9 deficiency (or sufficiency) that can be found in a CBC (complete blood count).

 

It’s also important to work with a qualified health practitioner (like a functional and clinical nutritionist) who can help guide you through necessary testing, diet, lifestyle and supplement interventions customized for your biochemistry. Diet plays a large role in managing the affects MTHFR can have on your body, beyond just B vitamins, and addressing these factors can put you back on track to feeling better!

 

You feel like SH*T more often than not and can't figure out why. I've been there too.

I’m glad you're here because I understand how it feels to be frustrated about not feeling well, and not being able to figure out why.

Like you, I’ve been to doctor after doctor, trying to ‘treat’ what was wrong with me, and nothing was working. Lab tests were even normal, I ate healthy food, exercised, did everything I was supposed to be doing, yet I knew something was wrong, because I didn’t feel well and my body just seemed to be deteriorating.

Finally, I figured out the problem. I was being treated for various symptoms, but the underlying problem was still there, festering, and continuing to wreak havoc on my body. No one was trying to determine WHY this was happening to me.

Once I began addressing WHY I wasn’t feeling well, instead of just focusing on the outward symptoms, things significantly improved.

For more than 15 years, I could not leave my house (thankfully I was working from home) after eating lunch because I’d experience horrible issues with IBS-D.

Diarrhea, gas, bloating, depression and anxiety, brain fog, insomnia, a stressful career (a big part of my healing was removing myself from that environment, and venturing out on my own to focus full time on my passion and career as a clinical nutritionist in 2017)… all led to my severe need to control something, anything, which turned into controlling what I ate.

Not to mention I was afraid to eat because every time I did, I’d experience gut issues, and literally not be able to leave the house for hours after a meal, and it went on for so long, it even seemed normal to me, this was my routine and my life.

In June of 2016, I thought I had a horrible flu. The urgent care doctor looked at me, and the pieces started to fall together… I was down to 98 pounds. My body was literally starving.

Talk about a wake up call. It was time to change. Time to change the way I took care of my body (I clearly completely had been neglecting taking care of myself while working to help others, talk about a wake up call), and time to change how I managed my health.

Enter the functional medicine approach to health. I have been able to identify and address underlying issues that were plaguing me all these years, and you know what, I CAN GO OUT TO LUNCH AND NOT PANIC THAT I’M GOING TO NEED TO BE NEAR A BATHROOM 30 minutes to 1 hour later (it was like clockwork).

I no longer need to schedule my food intake around my life activities. I literally would just not eat because I didn’t want to for fear of the outcome, and didn’t have time to end up in the bathroom for hours.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit not every day is perfect, far from it.

There are aspects of it all that I will need to work on likely for the rest of my life.

Healing is a process and often physical healing takes place more quickly than mental and emotional healing. Time heals ALL wounds.

Patience and persistence with protocols, and with ourselves as we navigate the muddy waters of healing are integral parts of the process.

It's messy, it's uncomfortable, and it's scary. It's also worth the benefits a billion times over. 

This is why I understand what you are going through, whether it’s gut issues or any other issue that hasn’t been resolved, because no one is looking for the WHY.

No one is addressing your health issues by taking into account your mind, body and spirit. A holistic approach is needed.

I’m a bulldog detective and use my strong knowledge of biochemistry and nutrition to tirelessly research and connect the dots to determine WHY.

I've also been in your shoes, and I understand the emotional, mental and spiritual components involved. 

You don’t have to do this alone anymore. I can help. My personal journey gives me a deep level of compassion and empathy for what you are going through. 

My path in life is to help you, because I know how.

As a team, we can fill in the blanks and determine the root cause of your problems, and develop a plan to help you reach your health and wellness goals.

If you’re ready to start getting the help you need, schedule your 30 minute strategy session with me. 

During our session we will talk about your health challenges, and the clues that have been overlooked to find the root cause of your problems. After our session, you'll have an understanding of how you can start to put the pieces of your health back together. We’ll also determine if I’m the right person for you to work with on a deeper level to finally heal your body, and discuss how that works.

>>>>>WORK WITH ME<<<<<

I'm looking forward to talking to you, and learning how I can help you reach your health and wellness goals!

"Your nutritional needs are as unique as your fingerprint, and they are dictated by your individual biochemistry. As a functional and clinical nutritionist, I can help you interpret your body's nutrient needs and customize a plan to reach your health and wellness goals. This is personalized nutrition."
-Jennifer Caryn Brand, MPH, MS, CNS, Clinical Nutritionist
 
Wishing you a delicious weekend!

Jennifer
Functional and Clinical Nutritionist

PS. If you know someone else who could really use this information, please FORWARD this link to them!

Folic acid, good or bad?

I came across this fantastic article from Dr. Ben Lynch about the side effects of folic acid recently. It's a must read so check it out.

Back in 2015, I wrote an article on this subject, and I'm reposting it here because it's really a fascinating topic. You can check out the original version on my old website and blog (pre Jennifer Caryn Brand Nutrition). Feel free to poke around on there too, I've got some recipes and other fun information!

Here's that article...

Is it true? Is folic acid detrimental to your health?

Folate (the form found in foods like broccoli, asparagus, lentils, and spinach for example) and folic acid (the form found in supplements and fortified in foods) is a B vitamin that is essential for brain function and development, and a number of other biochemical processes.

This vitamin is recommended especially for women of childbearing age and for pregnant women because a deficiency of it can result in neural tube defects (like spina bifida) in the unborn child.

Interestingly however, due to folic acid supplements and food fortification with folic acid there are large populations in the United States and around the world that have unprecedented high intake of the vitamin.

What has happened is that because of the importance of this vitamin for the prevention of congenital abnormalities, it has been added to foods it’s not naturally found in (this is fortification) for decades, and it's believed the practice has reduced the incidence of these congenital abnormalities. Researchers however have begun to look at unmetabolized folic acid in the plasma as a marker of excess folic acid intake. It is believed that unmetabolized folic acid in the plasma can have adverse effects on immune function and on overall health status. The fortification of foods with folic acid can result in an increase in unmetabolized folic acid concentration in those not even taking supplements of the vitamin [1, 2, 3].

There appears to be a connection between unmetabolized folic acid and cancer. It’s noted that a decrease in and avoidance of excess folic acid should be considered for those with a history of conditions that are risk factors for cancer. Such examples include diseases of the colon, prostate, intestines, and those with a history of cancer and/or are undergoing cancer treatment. Older folks that have high folate status and unmetabolized folic acid are at increased risk for cancer [1, 4].

There is a direct correlation between folic acid intake and unmetabolized folic acid and it is suggested that there is a level at which the enzyme DHFR (dihydrofolate reductase, which converts folic acid into its active form so the body can use it) becomes saturated (so it wouldn’t be able to continue this conversion and therefore can result in an increased concentration of unmetabolized folic acid). Other factors that affect the conversion of folic acid and its presence in the blood include age, pH in the intestines (which absolutely has to be very acidic in order to digest and absorb nutrients so your body can use them, and to prevent disease and illness), alcohol consumption, dose and duration of supplementation of the vitamin, and mutations in enzymes needed for folate metabolism [5].

Studies on this topic are mixed. Some suggest adverse effects on health due to excess folic acid intake resulting in increased concentrations of unmetabolized folic acid, and other studies note there is not enough evidence to demonstrate these adverse effects.

What’s the moral of the story? When it comes to supplements, they should never be taken willy-nilly. We are constantly bombarded by the media promoting health benefits of an infinite variety of supplements, and we frequently run out to purchase the latest panacea at the drop of a hat. So hold the phone folks! Talk to your doctor or your nutritionist before you start taking anything (and if you are already taking something, talk to your doctor or nutritionist before you stop, especially if it was something prescribed to you).

The best and safest way to get important nutrients in is through your diet. Eat whole real foods that naturally contain the vitamins (including folate) and minerals your body needs to function optimally. 

Interested in learning more? There are a variety of ways to connect with me.

For general questions >>>> click here <<<<

To schedule a strategy session to work with me >>>> click here <<<<

If you aren't sure if you're ready to dig in and commit to working with me, you can >>>> click here <<<< to schedule a pick my brain session.

If you want to create a custom diet plan (and one rich in natural folate containing foods to avoid possible complications of unmetabolized folic acid) >>>> click here <<<<

 

  1. Bailey, RL.; Mills, JL.; Yetley, EA.; Gahche, JJ.; Pfeiffer, CM.; Dwyer, JT.; Dodd, KW.; Sempos, CT.; Betz, JM.; Picciano, MF. (2010). Unmetabolized serum folic acid and its relation to folic acid intake from diet and supplements in a nationally representative sample of adults aged ‡60 y in the United States1–4. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 92:338-9.
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16365081
  3. http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/meeting_abstract/21/5/A104-d
  4. http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1044&context=nutrition_theses
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22746304

 

 "Your nutritional needs are as unique as your fingerprint, and they are dictated by your individual biochemistry. As a functional and clinical nutritionist, I can help you interpret your body's nutrient needs and customize a plan to reach your health and wellness goals. This is personalized nutrition."
-Jennifer Caryn Brand, MPH, MS, CNS, Functional and Clinical Nutritionist
 


Wishing you a delicious weekend!



Jennifer
Functional and Clinical Nutritionist

Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Caryn Brand Nutrition, All rights reserved. 

PS. If you know someone else who could really use this information, please FORWARD this link to them!

Do you need to take supplements?

Photo credit:  Pietro Jeng

Photo credit: Pietro Jeng

 

In functional medicine, we focus on natural ways to improve our health. That means food first. The functional medicine approach looks for the underlying causes of disease and illness and addresses it in order to improve health status. Health begins in the gut and often the underlying cause of what ails us is digestive and metabolic dysfunction.

 

Functional medicine practitioners use nutrient supplements, along with food, in clinical practice as the primary tools of treatment.

 

I've been asked, can't food be enough? After all, as a clinical nutritionist the expectation is that I'm going to create a diet plan to make you feel better. Yes! This is part of what I do. 

 

Sometimes, food isn't enough. This can happen as we age and bodily processes slow down and need a little extra help, when we have a functional deficit in a metabolic pathway, when our hormones become imbalanced, and when our guts aren't functioning the way they're supposed to. These are just some examples of when we may need a little more than what even the best, most thought through food plan can provide.

 

Our every day lives expose us to stress, environmental toxins, and lack of physical activity. We also experience inadequate exposure to sunlight, and many other problems associated with the 'conveniences' of Western society.

 

It is for these reasons that we can benefit from supplementing our healthful diets with extra nutrients. Some can help support metabolic pathways and therefore the biochemical reactions that make our bodies run. Others help support our immune system and combat oxidative stress and inflammation, two causes of chronic and complex disease.

 

I do believe that most of us can benefit from taking certain supplements.

 

To learn more about my take on specific supplement recommendations --> click here <--

 

Nutrient supplements are not medications. Prescription medications work by altering metabolic pathways, and even sometimes by shutting them down. All of the processes in our body are connected. When one is interrupted it can affect all others leading to chronic and complex disease. Nutrient supplements provide fuel (just as food can, when all else is in balance) for these processes to help them run. This is the difference between conventional medicine and the functional approach. 

 

So, are nutrient supplements necessary, and can't we get everything we need from food? My answers are sometimes, and maybe. 

 

Most of us know what a healthy diet should look like. When you are following a healthful eating plan and are still having symptoms that can't be explained or tied to anything in particular, this is when food may not be enough. If this sounds familiar I can help you get to the bottom of it.

 

To contact me --> click here <--

 

If you're ready for a strategy session with me --> click here <--

 

Are you looking for general information and just want to pick my brain? --> click here <--

 

Interested in only a diet plan? --> click here <--

 

 "Your nutritional needs are as unique as your fingerprint, and they are dictated by your individual biochemistry. As a functional and clinical nutritionist, I can help you interpret your body's nutrient needs and customize a plan to reach your health and wellness goals. This is personalized nutrition."
-Jennifer Caryn Brand, MPH, MS, CNS, Functional and Clinical Nutritionist
 


Wishing you a delicious weekend!



Jennifer
Functional and Clinical Nutritionist