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Many of us have been taking supplements, hoping to provide adequate and correct amounts of nutrients for our body and its metabolism. However, measurements show us that this approach usually does not work well. A better approach, available with today’s technology, is to use available measurement capabilities to determine exactly, what our body needs. Armed with this information, we can adjust our intake in an informed, effective and safe manner. The ION (Individual Optimal Nutrition) Panel, a particularly comprehensive compilation of tests, is just such a tool.

First, the ION Panel measures either 20 or 40 amino acids. The standard 20 acid panel measures the 10 essential amino acids, the neurotransmitter amino acids, and the amino acids of the urea cycle (a cycle to detoxify ammonia). The 40 acid panel looks in greater detail at additional, less fundamental, amino acids.

The ION Panel also measures the level of homocysteine, an important indicator of cardiovascular disease, which serves to catalogue oxidative stress. It measures the concentration of trace elements and minerals in red blood cells. Minerals and trace elements are most concentrated in these cells where they are most functional. It measures 35 fatty acids, which encompass the essentials Omega-3′s, Omega-6′s, the monounsaturated, the saturated fats, the odd-chain fatty acids, and the trans-fatty acids. Balances in different elements of these diagnose dietary and digestive issues and can point out inefficiencies within fatty acids that can have profound effects within the body. For example, you cannot mount an effective inflammatory response without a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Unhealthy, chronic inflammation may well result from a lack of or overabundance of certain fatty acids, since these fatty acids are essential to the functioning of the nervous system and the running of the immune system. When working properly, healthy inflammation turns on and off in response to certain body signals, much like the furnace in a house responding to a thermostat. However, various pathologies can cause the ‘inflammation off’ mechanism to fail. Treatment may be required to ensure the required fatty acid building blocks are available, and then to re-develop or stimulate the body’s ability to turn the inflammation off.

Fat soluble anti-oxidants are essential in terms of protection of areas of the body, particularly those of low oxygen tension, cell membranes, and within the mitochondria. Water soluble anti-oxidants such as vitamin C, and alpha-lipoic acid are measured either directly or functionally. Lipid peroxides are a direct measure of the amount of oxidized lipids on cell membranes, as well as being an indirect but good indicator of the amount of oxidation of fats within your body. It is these oxidized fats such as LDLs (the bad cholesterol) that promote the inflammation within blood vessels which causes cardiovascular disease.

Organic acids measured in the urine test confirm functional levels of many vitamins. The levels of specific organic acids are also used to measure the body’s ability to metabolize fatty acids and glucose. Fatty acids are the bodies preferred and highest yield source of energy. The body prefers use of fatty acids because it is the most efficient way to generate the most ATPs per calorie.

A carnitine deficiency can cause an inability to get fatty acids into the mitochondria where they are converted into energy. This condition may be corrected by supplementing carnitine.

The ability to burn glucose is also looked at. If inefficient, it indicates a more anaerobic tendency towards energy production. This can usually be corrected with very specific B vitamins, chromium, vanadium, alpha lipoic acid, and Co-enzyme Q10.

The body makes energy within each cell in tiny organelles called mitochondria. The energy is produced in a series of reactions called the Krebs Cycle or Citric Acid Cycle. An important function of the ION Panel is the measurement of certain co-factors that allows analysis of the Krebs cycle. This is the fundamental energy cycle that functions in the mitochondria within every single cell of every human being. In particular, specific elements of the cycle depend upon the measurable co-factors. The absence of these co-factors causes a slowdown in the Krebs cycle, which creates an inefficiency in the body’s ability to make energy within the cells.

Obviously, the patient has to be willing to follow up and take supplements to try and correct the imbalances. In general, 3 to 6 months should be sufficient to replenish any deficiency your body may have in a particular vitamin or mineral. After this period, based on laboratory follow up tests, you would be able to go into a maintenance mode.

Author: Dr. David Luce

W. David Luce, M.D., P.C. is a Board Certified Internist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado. He is recognized as a innovator and thought leader in the integration of Western medicine with complimentary therapies.

Dr. David Luce | MD

W. David Luce, M.D., P.C. is a Board Certified Internist in private practice in Colorado. He is recognized as a medical innovator, educator, public health advocate, and a leader in the integration of evidence-based Western medicine with complimentary therapies. Educated at Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale, Dr. Luce has over 20 years experience designing and implementing innovative treatment programs that restore health and wellness to his patients. He is a passionate proponent for the use of Western science, not only to prevent disease, but also ...

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