1

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Are Vitamin Deficiency Blood Tests a Joke?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 25, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Went to endo to discuss recentlabs. Got nowhere -- kept saying -- you're in the "sweet spot" with TSH blah blah blah. Then he said he wanted to run a vitamin deficiency test on certain vitamins. I told him how I eat and that I also supplement but he claims that he's had patients that were at beriberi levels on vitamin b1 etc. This test is for various vitamins -- some bs, selenium etc. He sends this out to a regular lab. Then he wanted to do some skin test for antioxidant levels (Dr. Oz had this on his show so already I'm suspicious). He said my palms were less orange than his so he bets his antioxidant status is better. The test is s skin test and it's $25 - out of pocket. I was getting annoyed because he had less than zero interest in discussing my lab results - just glossed over them and went straight to vitamin and antixidant deficiencies. I told him antioxidants are poisons (technally true) and I'm not sold on loading the body up with tons of carotenoids -- especially given that hypothyroids don't even convert the carotene to vitamin A -- plus too many carotenoids can be estrogenic -- anyway, when I made the poison comment he stopped pushing the antioxidant test. The vitamin test seemed possibly ok if in fact it's a valid test because my strict paleo regime may be low in some of the b's. I told him I'd just eaten a few hours before and taken a multi plus other vitamins so shouldn't I come back and be fasting? First he said didn't matter, then he asked the girl who draws blood, she said it doesn't have to be fasting. I said what about vitamins? She said she didn't think it would matter and I told her to just call the lab and ask. Sure enough, the lab said test is totally invalid if one has ingested dietary supplements 8-10 hours before the test. I would have to come back for the test but I'm so turned off at this doc's lack of knowledge...I waited an hour and a half to see him. Waiting room was not crowded but he seemed to have plenty of time to yack with collegues about an upcoming out of state medical conference/vacation. Any thoughts on whether this vitamin deficiency test would be a waste? The only think I really don't eat much of is calcium and of course that's the one thing this test doesn't test. Endo claimed serum calcium levels stay stable. I know I need a new endo...

F5a8a14fc6a4d33c2563d0dd3066698a

(714)

on July 20, 2013
at 01:16 PM

This doc very well may have been awful, and in thrall to Big Pharma bennies, but if an HCP is in a "kickback per script" situation, that is is all sorts of illegal. People can go to jail for that. And the FDA doesn't just overlook that sort of thing like ICE overlooks people who overstay a visa. The FDA would zealously prosecute that.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 25, 2011
at 07:22 PM

There is one problem with you approach: you assume that vegtables and chocolate and teas contain the same amount of nutrients as in our paleo times and that our environment didn't change.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on October 25, 2011
at 05:50 PM

Jay: I was taking 5000IU last winter and a test showed it to be 85ng/mL, which was a lot higher than I wanted it to be and higher than I expected. There's someone on here was taking 10000IU I believe and got their level into the low 100s and was experiencing a bunch of side effects before they realized what was going on. Super high d3 is potentially dangerous.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on October 25, 2011
at 05:46 PM

Actually kind of nice to hear about a doctor who even considers nutrition, though this one could clearly be better.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on October 25, 2011
at 04:12 PM

Maj - I know carotenes are not poisonous, but neither is pure whey protein powder.. neither is bananas, neither is coconut oil... but these (and many other foods) have been singled out in my diet as possible culprits for excessively high blood lipids for me. If it's true that excessive carotenoids can be estrogenic and affect thyroid function and perhaps even worsen hypothyroid, this could directly affect LDL receptor activity. Remember, I am 'hacking' and trying to find plausible solutions.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on October 25, 2011
at 04:12 PM

Maj - I know carotenes are not poisonous, but neither is pure whey protein powder.. neither is bananas, neither is coconut oil... but these (and many other foods) have been singled out in my diet as possible culprits for excessively high blood lipids for me. If it's true that excessive carotenoids can vbe estrogenic and affect thyroid function and perhaps even worsen hypothyroid, this could directly affect LDL receptor activity. Remember, I am 'hacking' and trying to find plausible solutions.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 25, 2011
at 03:00 PM

My local lab prices a vitamin D test at around $100. A coworker who cured some ailments with 7,500IU a day D was looking into getting the test to determine if she could reduce her dose. Even with D, lets face it she could have like a 6 month supply even at a high dose for that price. I understand many people like to repeat the mantra "test to know", but I don't always beleive it is worth it.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 25, 2011
at 02:21 PM

Jack, carotene is not poisonous so its not really important.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on October 25, 2011
at 02:16 PM

*"especially given that hypothyroids don't even convert the carototene to vitamin A -- plus too many carotenoids can be estrogenic"* - Hi Alexandra - would you be able to expand on this and/or perhaps provide link(s). My reason for interest is that I was intentionally taking 2-3 spoons of red palm oil everyday for a variety of reasons, and that is loaded to the brim with carotenoids.

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3 Answers

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 25, 2011
at 02:19 PM

Antioxidants are poisons, thats LOL. Anything is poison if used improperly.

Anyways, vitamins/minerals are notoriously hard to test, watery ones especially, except vitamin D which is conditional vitamin anyway. I doubt its useful. I would go proactive - use shit load of hi q vitamins (you can skip carotens if you like, eating a carrot or two per day delivers bunch of them :)

So I don't think you can really test that. Its better to save that money for real vitamins as that is the best way to test if you actually have deficiency. Use bunch of them and see how it goes. You will spend the same amount of money as with very expensive testing that is done on multiple fronts (hair, blood, biopsy, urine etc...) by using the real thing. I consider vitamin testing for rich freaks who have enough money to not care about the cost.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on October 25, 2011
at 05:50 PM

Jay: I was taking 5000IU last winter and a test showed it to be 85ng/mL, which was a lot higher than I wanted it to be and higher than I expected. There's someone on here was taking 10000IU I believe and got their level into the low 100s and was experiencing a bunch of side effects before they realized what was going on. Super high d3 is potentially dangerous.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 25, 2011
at 03:00 PM

My local lab prices a vitamin D test at around $100. A coworker who cured some ailments with 7,500IU a day D was looking into getting the test to determine if she could reduce her dose. Even with D, lets face it she could have like a 6 month supply even at a high dose for that price. I understand many people like to repeat the mantra "test to know", but I don't always beleive it is worth it.

1
27361737e33ba2f73ab3c25d2699ad61

(1880)

on October 25, 2011
at 03:23 PM

Hi jack and maj,

My poison comment was just snarkiness because I was really losing my temper when the doc just refused to discuss my labs after I'd waited 90 minutes for nothing but a hardsell for vitamin and antioxidant testing. Maj -- they aren't selling palm oil and colorful fruits and veggies at his office -- no, they are selling overpriced highly concentrated antioxidant supplements. The doc said it's like 8 servings of veggies in a capsule (?) and I told him I prefer to just eat the veggies and skip the pill. He said he's "too busy" to eat so many vegetables. I asked about certain hormone levels that were flagged by the lab as too high and several that were too flagged as too low and I wanted an explanation as to what he thought that meant. He just glanced at the labs and shrugged. I asked if my age had anything to do with the results and he had to ask my age 4 times despite the fact it's right at the top of the chart. Seriously, he couldn't have been less interested in my hormone tests and he's an endo. He has thyroid disease himself and takes a different medication than me (i take armour and cytomel -- he takes synthroid) so when I said I want to gradually wean off the cytomel entirely if possible he balked saying it will screw up my labs and I'm purportedly in the "sweet spot." Ugh. I swear this guy has morphed into a different doc ever since he started selling the antioxidant testing and more and more supplements -- this is all new for his office so he probably has to make the investment pay off but the quality of my care seems to have plummetted.

Hypothyroids, diabetics do not convert carotene to vitamin a. Google it. I'm not saying carotene is a deadly poison -- I do believe there is no benefit in purposely turning yourself orange. Ray Peat's newsletter had an interesting piece on the potentially estrogenic and anti-thyroid effect of excessive carotenes -- "excessive" -- thus this is an individual matter. My old (and excellent) now retired doc would routinely look at everyone's palms and soles to check for orange color. Not a diagnosis, just a possible clinical diagnostic clue. Of course taking a high dose antioxidant pill can make palms orange -- but where is the evidence that orange palms are a sign of blooming health? Peat loves raw carrot but would not be a fan of gobbling high dose carotene pills. He likes the carrot for the fiber and it's potential to normalize hormonal imbalance especially when grated raw and combined with sea salt, coconut oil and something acidic like vinegar or lemon/lime juice and eaten as a salad. His books on female hormones and nutrition both warn that excessive carotene can exert a hypothyoid effect.

Excessive antioxidants can also act as prooxidants --I'm not talking about food -- I'm talking about willy nilly gobbling of every expensive experimental antioxidant supplement du jour. I can't see how overloading the body with carotenes to turn it orange on purpose as alleged proof of something good makes sense either -- I targeted carotenes because the hypothyroid endo was proud of his orange palms. I know that I personally wouldn't rely on carotene solely for my vitamin A -- I prefer preformed animal based A. If I want carotene -- I'll eat the pumpkin and pass on the pills. I eat at veggies at every meal plus dark chocolate, teas, coffee etc -- so I already eat plenty of antioxidants and supplement in a specific, targeted way -- not just to score high on some some skin test featured on Dr. Oz's show. I had the feeling that the point of his Dr. Oz antioxidant test is ultimately to get me buy some high dose antioxidants so that I will score high on the test. At the risk of sounding even more snarky -- I feel the endo definitely did not look great for his age despite his orange palms...ditto for his nutritionist. I do eat antioxidants in food but am personally not sold on high dose carotenoids for me. He also pushes flu shots -- something I've never had and never intend to get. I prefer to use a drop or two of wild oregano oil under the tongue, plus keep vitamin d levels high, extra vitamin c and maybe additional vitamin A. Some supplementation may be good but should be tailored to individual needs. The test pushed on me seemed to treat everyone the same -- everyone must have a certain antioxidant score.

Check out the original antioxidant gurus -- Shaw and Pearson -- did they look magically younger so many decades after ingesting mass quantities of antioxidant supplements? Not in my opinion. Check out writings by the father of free radical theory of aging, Dr. Denham Harman -- yes he advocates supplementation of antioxidants but also warns that there is a real risk in overdoing -- mentions fatigue, muscle weakness. My endo and guys like Dr. Oz never mention titrating doses of antioxidant supplements and/or vitamin supplements based on a person's size. It's always one size (or dose) fits all. Not wise in my view.

Bottom line: supplementation at very high doses should be tailored to individual needs -- not a one size/dose fits all. Saying everyone must score a certain level on a skin test is woo to the max to me. I think I'll pass on the vitamin test and use my time to find a new endo.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 25, 2011
at 07:22 PM

There is one problem with you approach: you assume that vegtables and chocolate and teas contain the same amount of nutrients as in our paleo times and that our environment didn't change.

0
Df7a299f5a19b2aee135ea2efa3cedf6

on July 18, 2013
at 05:31 PM

Alexandra: yep...u need to find a new endo. When they cave to Big Pharma and start taking kickbacks per script, the quality of care drops in inverse proportion to the time necessary to "convince" patients this panacea or that miracle yadda yadda yadda...been there done that.

Got suckered into 48-weeks of Pegasys chemotherapy, dang near killed me, and a great many adverse effects were and are permanent. I was an award winning journalist/columnist and author, my forte' was humor, but my sense of humor is virtually gone. When I did a bit of investigating, once that endo was asked why the NIH, CDC, American Liver Society and others were telling me different things than the doc told my folks, my caregiver and myself, I was immediately told, "If you don't trust me you have no business here, then had me black-balled from the entire clinic.

With the type(s) of illness you described, it is crucial to determine nutritional excesses and deficiencies. Pushing antioxidants rather than discuss labs? Very bad sign.

Thyroid issues are rampant on my maternal side, and my mother is in stage III kidney failure, due to excessive use of hypotensive agents. As a result she has all her vitamin and mineral levels checked every 6 months. To determine the baselines the first time they took blood, urine and hair samples, then after the baseline was established, just the gas chromatography testing.

Advances in testing procedures as well as new technology has made full bio-nutritional scaling/testing much more accurate, affordable and accessible.

Just make sure you get things going before nobamacare kicks in! After September 1st, testing will be the least worry. Finding a new endo doc (or any other doctor for that matter) will be the most difficult task.

I wish you well...

Vinny Setala

F5a8a14fc6a4d33c2563d0dd3066698a

(714)

on July 20, 2013
at 01:16 PM

This doc very well may have been awful, and in thrall to Big Pharma bennies, but if an HCP is in a "kickback per script" situation, that is is all sorts of illegal. People can go to jail for that. And the FDA doesn't just overlook that sort of thing like ICE overlooks people who overstay a visa. The FDA would zealously prosecute that.

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