What is the difference between a vitamin and a supplement?

Vitamins are naturally occurring nutrients that cannot be synthesized by your body yet is absolutely crucial for optimal bodily functions.

The term supplement, in the medical sense, is a catch-all term for any nutrient, vitamin, or compound that you add to your dietary intake. Supplements may be found in nature or created. Your body may already make its own version of the molecule which is why it is considered a supplement – because you are adding to your body’s ability to create the molecule. For instance, your body can create Methylated folic acid, but if you have the MTHFR Mutation, you create less. Therefore, taking supplemental methylated folic acid compliments your own body’s ability to produce methylated folic acid. In the U.S., the FDA determines whether a product is labeled as a supplement, medical food, or medication. Each category has its own standards that production companies must upkeep.

Are all supplements considered vitamins?

No, all supplements are not considered vitamins.  However, all vitamins are considered supplements.  A supplement is a catch-all term for many different nutrients, micro-nutrients, vitamins, and foods.

Supplements are important for optimal health and wellbeing.  Utilizing the appropriate supplements can even slow the aging process.  The body utilizes micro-nutrients for every enzymatic process that it needs.  Without iron, your blood cells cannot carry oxygen.  Without zinc, your white blood cells cannot fight infections.  Deficient levels of magnesium can lead to thin bones, migraines, and irregular heart rhythms.  Antioxidants are utilized to detoxify free radicals that damage DNA’s telomeres.  Shortened telomeres cause cellular aging.  Needless to say, supplements have many purposes, and it is important to choose the right ones for you.  Each person needs their own tailored therapy of appropriate vitamins and supplements.

Which supplements should I take?

The best way to find out which supplements are right for you is to evaluate your levels.  We routinely check several nutrient levels with our advanced blood work, including Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Folate, and Omega-3.  These levels are crucial and must be maintained at adequate levels.  However, there are many other nutrients that need to be tested in order to determine which supplements your body needs.  This assessment will need to be repeated routinely since your dietary intake, nutrient absorption, and daily requirements change each year.  Depending on your medical history, a supplement may be right for you but unnecessary for another person.  For instance, Chondroitin and Glucosamine are excellent supplements for those with arthritis but will not provide much benefit to a healthy 30 year old.  If you have a question about which supplement is right for your medical conditions, ask one of our healthcare providers.

What is a micronutrient analysis panel (FIA)?  How do you test for vitamin levels?

The FIA test is a micronutrient analysis panel.  FIA stands for Functional Intracellular Analysis.

Vitamin levels, micronutrients, and antioxidants are important to our providers, so we offer a modern micronutrient analysis panel or vitamin test (FIA).  This is performed with a simple blood draw any time of the day.  It does not need to be fasting.  The blood is sent to a lab that separates your white blood cells from the blood sample.  Then, the white blood cells are stimulated and starved.  Based on this state-of-the-art technology, the lab can evaluate your functional micronutrient levels at the cellular level.  With routine blood work, the nutrient levels that are shown are simply the amount of that specific nutrient floating in the blood stream and not the cellular utilization of that nutrient.  This micronutrient analysis is the best way to assess your micronutrients.

Should I take a multivitamin? Which multivitamin should I take?

Most people have at least one element of micro-nutrient deficiency that can be detected with the FIA panel. If you are currently taking a multivitamin, you should get the micro-nutrient analysis performed in order to evaluate the effectiveness of your multivitamin. Not all multivitamins are created equal. Many multivitamins lack key elements and antioxidants. Cheaper multivitamins are poorly packaged for your body, so they are not well absorbed. Some multivitamins only carry common nutrients that are regularly found in food. For instance, if you compare Rejuvenation Science’s Maximum Vitality to any generic multivitamins (One-A-Day, Centrum, GNC), you will see there are many micro-nutrients that the generic multivitamins are missing. It is important to utilize a high-quality multivitamin and test your levels regularly.

Are supplements dangerous? What are the side effects?

Supplements are generally considered safe, but certain supplements can interact with medications that can cause devastating effects. If you are unsure, please ask your healthcare provider or local pharmacist if it is safe for you to take a particular supplement or combination. Do not assume that because it is found in nature that it is harmless. Each supplement has its own list of side effects similar to medications. Most supplements have minimal side effects.

How much does the micronutrient analysis panel (FIA) cost?  Will my insurance cover the FIA?

In order to avoid being billed the remaining charges, the lab accepts an upfront fee for their services (similar to an insurance policy). If you pay the upfront fee, they guarantee that you will not receive a bill. The amount of the upfront fee varies with each insurance company. Our staff will be happy to let you know the cost based on your insurance company. The usual cost that patients have to pay is between $200 – $300. The total cost of the FIA is over $1,000, so your insurance will cover the rest if you pay the upfront fee.

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