The Beginner’s Guide to Nutritional Testing, Diet, and Supplements

Most of us have stumbled across the go-to supplements that are supposed to help conditions like apraxia. We have heard the hype from other parents about how their child’s speech dramatically improved after one week of Nordic Naturals Fish Oil, or NutriiVeda, or SPEAK.

We have heard a handful of professionals state positives about their product and negatives about another. It is daunting to know who you can and cannot trust and which product, if any, is the right fit for your child.

I am wholeheartedly a supporter of nutritional intervention, but I also feel that it is extremely important to do some basic testing before you begin any diet or supplement program.

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Let me share a few examples of why I feel testing is so important …

Case #1 – Jake and Omega-3

I was so worried about omega-3 when I took Jake to his first integrative medicine appointment. He cannot take this supplement because of his fish allergy. Prior to this appointment, I spent a lot of time researching fish-free omega supplements. There are not many out there! If I did happen to stumble across one, it took time to make sure it wasn’t manufactured on shared equipment with fish oil. It took phone calls and emails to the manufacturers and reading a lot of fine print.

Needless to say, it was emotionally exhausting for me to think inside and outside the box regarding omega-3. Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to see on his NutrEval test that his omega levels are perfect! I breathed a long sigh of relief and began putting my time, money, and mental energy where they belonged instead of chasing something that was a non-issue.

Case #2 – Jake and Vitamin E

From September through mid-December of 2012, Jake took a vitamin E supplement. When I increased the dose in December, allergy symptoms developed. Turns out, the pure form of E is made from almond oil and Jake was allergic to almonds at the time. Not good. Prior to starting this supplementation, two doctors and myself knew about this allergy because of a skin prick test, but it was an oversight. The moral of the story is … know allergies, know intolerances, and know what is in supplements.

Case #3 – Fish Oil, Gluten-Free & ADD

My friend Tricia recently had the NutrEval and the ALCAT tests run on her son who has suspected ADD. Prior to testing, she had been giving him fish oil for a few months, but had seen no results. Turns out, her son’s main issue is gluten intolerance. He is now taking a few supplements that are specific to his deficiencies along with a gluten-free diet. Addressing the diet first in this case was imperative because without taking out the offending foods, the supplements could not be properly absorbed in the gut.

Case #4 – Jake and Simple Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

In December of 2013, I had a few tests run to determine the cause of Jake’s food allergies. At the beginning of January, I put Jake on the SCD with the hopes of healing or improving his food allergies even though I didn’t have my test results back. On Day #7 of this diet, his CDSA 2.0 stool test came back and the doctor’s office called and told me to take him off of the SCD. More on this later, but turns out this diet is not a good fit for him. The good news is, these test results showed what is causing his food allergies. We are waiting for the rest of the test results to come back before we fine tune his program and get back to healing.

Who Does Testing & How Much Does it Cost?

  • A Medical Doctor certified by the American Board of Integrative & Holistic Medicine. Click here to search for a physician in your area. We go to this type of doctor. One benefit in going this route is that insurance covers some of our cost because she is a real pediatrician. Some tests are covered by insurance and some are not. The NutrEval that we had done was not covered and it was around $700-800 and the ALCAT was $200-300. We have taken several tests that insurance covered and I paid a flat fee of $25 for all of them.
  • A DAN doctor
  • A chiropractic office with additional wellness services. I’ve recently reunited with my best friend from elementary school and she had herself and her daughters tested at a reputable chiropractor’s office. She said she paid $50 for all of her tests because insurance covered it!
  • The Great Plains Laboratory. I have recently ordered a urine amino acid test from this company and I have been very impressed with their customer service and thoroughness. They also have a great explanation of how to submit tests to insurance and their prices are very reasonable. Their website says that your results include a thirty minute phone consultation and I also plan on sending the results to our doctor to get her input. The only caveat is you must have a physician’s signature before they will run the tests. Perhaps a traditional pediatrician would consider helping out with this. I believe their Organic Acids Test (OAT) is somewhat comparable to NutrEval and according to the price sheet, the cash price is $299 and the insurance price is $599. The IgG Food Allergy Test with Candida (comparable to ALCAT) is $219 / $325.

Additional Resources:

  •  Jenny McCarthy’s Generation Rescue offers biomedical grants to families who cannot afford treatment.
  • January 30 – February 2, The Gluten Summit’s webinar “Now That You Know, Where Do You Go?” is available online and free of charge. I watched Part One back in October at the advice of Jake’s doctor and it was EXCELLENT … top-notch experts and information. According to the site, this webinar will cover the following:
  1. What tests should I take to see if I have a disorder?
  2. How do I convince my doctor to order the tests?
  3. Could it be gluten? Or dairy? Or another food triggering symptoms?
  4. When should I take the tests?
  5. How do I get them? What if I’m outside of the U.S.?
  6. How do I interpret the results?
  7. What if my results come back positive for a gluten-related disorder?

What about you, friends? Got any information you’d like to add to this post? I’d love to hear if someone out there has gone to a DAN doctor or if you got testing, etc. from another source. 

Disclaimer: All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or disorder. Please see complete disclosure at the top of this page.

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The Story of Us

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When Jake was nine months old, I gave him a bite of eggs and he broke out in hives. Even as a quiet, ultra-chilled out baby, my gut told me something was off with his system. He was always breaking out in welts, eczema had covered his body since he was three months old, and he had asthma that would flare up when he got a cold. He also had the nastiest, stinkiest poop you’ve ever seen or smelled.

Then came the ear infections. While there were a couple of months in between each one, at every ear re-check, I would get the same report …  “infection is gone, but the fluid is still there.” His right ear was especially problematic and never drained properly. During this time, antibiotic after antibiotic flowed freely into his little body and I used the Benzocaine ear drops as often as I wanted at the advice of my pediatrician. The doctor did not think his ears were severe enough to have tubes put in them.

When he turned two years old, the age when professionals say allergy tests become reliable, I made an appointment with the allergist’s office. That day I found out he was severely allergic to eggs and moderately allergic to peanuts. In addition, I left the allergist’s office with a handful of prescriptions for asthma and eczema.

But, I wasn’t satisfied. I felt like there was more; something we were missing. Medicating my 24-month-old child with multiple prescriptions was not the answer for me. I wanted to know why this was happening. After all, wouldn’t eliminating an allergy trigger be easier and better for him than putting steroid cream on him twice a day, taking Singulair, antibiotics, and doing daily breathing treatments?

Also, it was time for Jake to start potty training and I wanted to get his poop problem under control. My pediatrician gave me zero help with this issue and even though I was an experienced mom with two other kids and even brought in multiple pictures of his dirty diapers, they shrugged it off as nothing.

That was September of 2010. I had to at least explore other options.

In October, I made an appointment with a naturopathic doctor and Jake went on a food elimination diet for three months. He essentially ate fruits, veggies, and protein during this time. He also took a high quality probiotic and quercetin, a plant-derived flavonoid found in fruits & vegetables, which is believed to have anti-inflammatory (antihistamine) properties. The first week of his new diet, he had the first solid stool of his life and the diarrhea never came back.

The food elimination diet was like pressing a reset button on his system. The eczema and asthma didn’t go away completely, but definitely improved dramatically. His ear infections became fewer and farther between. He resumed a normal diet, only eliminating peanut and egg, and later fish and almond.

I thought things were getting better, but then my quiet baby remained speechless during his second year of life. At 27 months old, he began speech therapy and at 36 months old he was diagnosed with apraxia. Once I got this diagnosis, I started researching like crazy and stumbled upon the research study on apraxia, led by Dr. Claudia Morris and Dr. Marilyn Agin.

The results of the study suggest that apraxic children are very likely to be sensitive or allergic to gluten coupled with other nutritional deficiencies caused by malabsorption. Essentially, the body is not absorbing the nutrients that it takes in. The result is a faulty system that doesn’t operate as it should. The study also implied that apraxia could be the result of an omega-3 or vitamin E deficiency. *

The stats impressed me – 97% of the 187 children showed some level of improvement with supplementation. I was inspired to seek out alternative treatment.

I tried to make some diet/supplement changes on my own in March of 2012, but I felt lost and overwhelmed. After much research, I realized Jake could have any number of food intolerances or nutritional deficiencies. For example, what if I spent all of this time and money giving him Epsom salt baths and he’s not even deficient in magnesium?

After much research, I chose a Medical Doctor with additional holistic and nutrition certifications to guide us on this journey. On August 1st, Jake had his first appointment and seven vials of blood later, I found out that he was severely deficient in all vitamins and minerals except vitamin D. His amino acid and fatty acid (omega 3,6,9) levels were a little off, but nothing extreme.

His test results also showed that he was severely intolerant to egg white, peanut, pork, tuna, gluten, and casein. He tested negative for candida (yeast overgrowth) and celiac disease.

I know I have touched on our history in bits and pieces over the past few months, but I wanted to reiterate Jake’s background. I wanted to clarify that Jake’s diet and supplement program is specific to his deficiencies and intolerances. Without blood work paired with an elimination diet, I would not have been comfortable changing his diet and adding supplements. Also, Jake has remained in speech therapy twice a week during this transition.

Over the next two weeks, I will be sharing the highlights of Jake’s diet and supplementation program. If all goes well, I will be posting two times a week instead of just once. January 24th I’ll be talking about omega-3,6, and 9 along with a coconut oil giveaway from Tropical Traditions. I will end January discussing Jake’s new speech program.

Please feel free to chime in at any point during this series to share your own story.

* Please note: This study only encouraged me to take action. Jake is not on vitamin E or fish oil supplements at this time because of his allergies. Also, this particular research study administered high doses of vitamin E to the participants. For comparison sake, the “average” child gets 20 IUs of E in two Flintstone gummy vitamins. A child should be under a doctor’s supervision before adding any type of supplement. All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only.