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I hear these types of comments all the time: “I read about this supplement on the internet, so I took some. But it didn’t do anything.” Or, “I heard this guy on YouTube say that people have this one gene and we should all take this vitamin for it.” The classic go-to for vitamin questions is to ask Dr. Google what he thinks. As I have said before, Dr. Google does have all the right answers. You just have to ask the right question. And that’s where most people get it wrong.

After practicing functional medicine for around 10 years now, I have seen over and over the importance of actually testing for vitamin deficiencies rather than just guessing what you might need. Imagine a surgeon cutting you open for a coronary bypass after consulting an internet expert. Imagine your pharmacist ignoring your prescription and just assuming you need double the dose recommended. You would think they’re crazy. And you would be right. Yet people take it upon themselves to decide what vitamins and supplements they need all too often, even though they’re usually not exactly sure what to buy or how much to take. Supplements can be a very powerful tool in your health approach, but they can also make you worse if you don’t use them right or if you use the wrong ones. You can also waste a lot of money on something that isn’t going to help because you really don’t need it or you get a low-quality version of something.

I personally recommend a number of different testing options, the first and most important being a blood draw. With a blood draw you have a precise, verifiable method to determine what supplements you need, how much to take, and when you don’t need it anymore. Many supplements are like prescriptions — you don’t need to take them forever. And yet many people like how something makes them feel initially so they continue to take it long-term, well after they stop needing it.

In addition to blood tests, there are other specialized tests that can be done. Some of these include genetics testing (for health issues, not just genealogy), organic acid testing, hormone testing (DUTCH test), toxicology, etc. These tests are especially helpful when nothing else is finding the root of your health issues. Only functional medicine doctors know how to interpret these.

By the way, there also a number of not-so-scientific ways of testing for what you need. One that I’ve heard of is a “scan” where you put your hand on a device and it “reads” what you need. It’s as sketchy as it sounds. We have even had people come in for a blood draw after doing one of these scans and found no similarities in what they were told they needed.

Please note that some health “experts” will say you never need a certain supplement or vitamin. Without actually testing to see where your levels are at. Typically, these “experts” have no training — or if they do, very little. I have even seen medical doctors occasionally venture into this arena with no education in natural medicine. It is always best to leave these things to the experts. Medical doctors should get prescription medication questions and functional medicine doctors should get questions on supplements, vitamins, natural medicine.

The bottom line is that if an “expert” or a provider does not have education in and training with a certain topic, they shouldn’t be giving professional advice on it. In the hands of a trusted authority, natural medicine is an effective and healthy way to achieve optimal health. But remember…test, don’t guess!


Dr. Burtis, D.C., M.S., CFMP, DACBN, has been providing natural healthcare to the Fairmont area at Burtis Chiropractic Center for over 35 years. He uses a combination of chiropractic, nutrition, and functional medicine to help individuals restore and maintain health and healing through individualized care plans. The mission of Burtis Chiropractic Center is to provide transformational healthcare that takes an individual’s life to the next level. We strive to be a solution for families to experience transformational healthcare and help create vibrant and resilient lifestyles that can be passed to future generations.


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