Matthew Cavaiola

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With the incidence of chronic disease on the rise in the United States, many Americans are searching for treatment alternatives to help cure their health problems.

Although there are a myriad of potential causes for our health conditions, nutrient deficiencies are perhaps one of the most overlooked root causes. As we age, our bodies unfortunately do not digest, assimilate, absorb or excrete nutrients from our food like it did when we were younger. Chronic illness, heavy use of medications and even periods of lengthy hospitalization are all reasons why we may end up with nutritional deficiencies. Long-term damage to the intestinal lining, also termed leaky gut, has been implicated as one of the most important causes of nutritional deficiencies. Not only that, but as we age, our physiology changes which can compromise our nutritional status and influence nutritional requirements.

With widespread misinformation about nutritional supplements on the Internet and untrained individuals giving misguided recommendations, many individuals are not getting the help they need and may actually be doing more harm than good. Naturopathic doctors (ND) are general practitioners who specialize in clinical nutrition and can not only recognize nutritional deficiencies in their patients but also have the tools to be able to accurately diagnose and treat their patients effectively and safely.

One tool that NDs often use to determine an individual’s overall nutritional status is a Comprehensive Nutritional Analysis. This is a specialized blood test that measures a myriad of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients and gives information about the status of each as compared to reference ranges. Deficiencies in these nutrients can have many health consequences and may cause a variety of health conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. By working with an ND, individuals can start to normalize nutrients out of balance and begin to restore their health.

Certainly, one of the most positive aspects of this test is that it takes the guessing game out of which nutrient or nutrients that could potentially be the cause of one’s illness. For instance, long-term use of antidepressants, one of the most commonly prescribed medications by doctors, may often cause deficiencies of the nutrients coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B12. Without adequate stores of these two nutrients, people can feel lethargic, have muscular aches and pains and occasionally experience numbness and tingling. The Comprehensive Nutritional Analysis can pick up these deficiencies and an ND can work with the patient on normalizing these levels through dietary changes and nutritional supplementation.

Have you been to see many doctors without any clear answer to your health problems? Have you taken prescription medications for an extended period of time? Do you want to feel better and optimize your health as you age?

Nutritional deficiencies are, without a doubt, a major factor in the onset of disease. Determining if you have nutritional deficiencies could be the start to reduce your health care costs, discontinue your medications and get you going on the right track to achieve wellness.

• Ahwatukee Foothills’ Dr. Matthew Cavaiola is a licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist, who treats a variety of conditions and illnesses associated with the aging process. Reach him at (602) 432-2900 or visit

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