by Dr. Joseph Debé
The Individualized Optimal Nutrition (ION) profile is the premier test for evaluating an individual's nutritional status. The ION profile analyzes blood and urine for a total of more than 100 biochemicals, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, organic acids, heavy metals, lipid peroxides and homocysteine.
Each patient gets an impressive 30 page bound report, which includes the test data as well as detailed explanation regarding the health significance of the results. All of the patient's supplement needs are addressed with a list of computer-generated nutritional recommendations to help optimize the individual's nutritional status.
To appreciate the value of the ION profile, let’s use an example. Yesterday, I reviewed ION test results for “Mark”, a 58 year-old gentleman who considers himself healthy and is striving for optimal health. Mark desires more energy and general well being, improved memory, and relief of arthritic pain and stiffness. I recommended the ION profile to gain insight into his metabolism in order to help achieve these goals. Mark came to me with a history of using quite a number and variety of nutritional supplements. He currently was taking Co-enzyme Q10 for energy, S-adenosyl-methionine for relief of arthritis symptoms, pregnenolone for memory, and fiber and colon-related products because he thought at his age they may be needed. These supplements are all reasonable choices. But were they the right ones for Mark?
The ION test results revealed things about Mark’s metabolism that we could not have guessed about. He had elevated levels of homocysteine, which is a toxic amino acid associated with 50 degenerative conditions including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. One symptom commonly associated with elevated homocysteine is memory impairment. Mark’s elevated homocysteine appeared to be caused by inadequate levels of folic acid. Interestingly, by supplementing with folic acid, Mark’s body will also be able to make more of its own S-adenosyl-methionine.
Another factor contributing to Mark’s high homocysteine levels is mercury toxicity, as evidenced by elevated red blood cell mercury levels. The mercury toxicity and homocysteine are related to another important finding on Mark’s ION profile; elevated levels of lipid peroxides. Lipid peroxides are an indicator of free radical damage to the cell membranes. Excess free radical activity or oxidative stress, as it’s called, causes damage to tissue throughout the body, impairs physiology and plays a role in every major degenerative disease, and the aging process in general.
The elevated levels of lipid peroxides are probably also related to other factors picked up with the ION profile. Mark had elevated levels of the omega 3 fatty acid EPA, which is derived from fish oil. This is an interesting finding because, with symptoms of arthritis, I often recommend fish oil supplementation for its anti-inflammatory activity. However, elevated levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids can contribute to oxidative stress. Without the guidance of the ION profile, I would not have known that fish oil would do Mark more harm than good.
The elevated lipid peroxides were also related to low levels of the antioxidants vitamin E, Co-enzyme Q10, selenium and manganese. Interestingly, selenium is also needed to protect the body from mercury. Manganese is essential for normal connective tissue production, and deficiency is therefore linked to arthritis. The ION profile also revealed insufficiencies of linoleic acid and dihomogamma linolenic acid. These anti-inflammatory fatty acid deficits can be corrected with supplementation of borage seed oil. The ION profile also gives indication as to the presence of unfriendly organisms in the intestinal tract. We found one of these in Mark’s case.
Based on Mark’s ION test results the following supplements are what he needs: folic acid, vitamin E, Co-enzyme Q10, manganese, selenium, and borage seed oil. For the mercury toxicity and elevated EPA, I will also recommend reduced fish consumption and a mercury-chelating compound, such as N-acetylcysteine. For the unfriendly intestinal bacteria, I will recommend supplementing with beneficial yeast called sacchromyces boulardi. Mark had only guessed correctly about his need for Co-enzyme Q10. I could not have guessed much better.
It's hard to imagine a condition that would not benefit from the targeted nutritional approach that results from an ION profile. Some of the conditions Metametrix recommends the test for include: chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, obesity, learning and behavioral disorders. I recommend the ION profile for anyone who wants to be healthier.