We all know we're probably supposed to me taking a daily multivitamin. But has anyone ever actually explained WHY?
Simply put, our bodies need certain nutrients to function properly. If we don't supplement these nutrients with proper nutrition or supplements like multivitamins, then our bodies don't work as efficiently and medications aren't as effective.
There are many reasons for being nutrient deficient ranging from poor diet to medications to genetic mutations affecting our body's ability to make or collect those nutrients.
Since I'm a pharmacist and I like to talk about drugs, lets start there.
Drugs in the "stimulant" class of medications (such as Ritalin and Adderall for ADD/ADHD) can cause a reduction in appetite as a side effect. Decreased intake equals nutrient deficiency.
Other drugs in the "psychoactive" class of medications may have the opposite effect and increase the desire for unhealthy sugars, fats or carbohydrates. Some medications in the anti-psychotic and anti-depressants classes can cause insulin resistance and may lead to metabolic syndrome. Consumption of high-calorie, low nutrient density foods can also have an impact on the resources our bodies use to rebuild our cells.
Antibiotics and anti-cholesterol drugs also affect the absorption of nutrients in the stomach and GI tract leading to additional deficiencies.
Though the reasoning for the problem varies, the outcome is the same. Deficiencies cause drugs that require certain nutrients Vitamin B, Co-enzyme Q-10, folic acid and others as "building blocks" in order to work to be much less effective.
For example, antidepressants work by increasing the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. But serotonin and dopamine aren't made from nothing, they are built by tiny "building blocks" like B vitamins.
Another reason for nutrient deficiencies can be attributed to genetic mutations.
Mutations can affect the way enzymes break apart building blocks like folate into a usable form. One of the most infamous enzyme mutations is in the MTHFR gene which affects the way the body changes folate into methylfolate.
In this situation adding a folic acid (folate) supplement, could cause ADDITIONAL harm because the body is already having trouble clearing the folate. For MTHFR positive patients, I'd recommend a methylated version of folate instead.
Methylfolate is another one of the "building blocks" for making the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine as well. Which again affects the way ADHD, anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medications work.
The MTHFR gene mutation is just one example of the many ways genetics can affect the way your body reacts to medications and supplements.
Having a full picture of your genetic profile, medication therapy, and nutrient deficiencies can help your doctor or pharmacist choose the most effective treatment for you.
If you are interested in learning more about genetic testing or have already had a genetic test performed and would like to get more information about it, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and recommendations on how genetic testing can help your healthcare provider choose safer, more effective medications.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Blair Green Thielemier, PharmD is an medication therapy management consultant pharmacist living in Arkansas with her husband and two children. She is also the founder of Genetic Consults, a program that helps patients understand their genetics and use that information to guide future medical care.
Blair Green Thielemier, PharmD is an independent consultant pharmacist living in Arkansas with her husband and two children. She is also the founder of Genetic Consults, a program that helps patients understand their genetics and use their information to guide future medical care.