Nutrition & Supplements

Chiropractic involves treating the person as a whole by assisting the body to heal naturally. It has long been known that healthy, nutritious diets coupled with rest, exercise and spinal adjustments are an integral part of preventative health care.

In order to function to its optimum capacity, the body needs to absorb essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, minerals, proteins and various vitamins. These ensure healthy digestion, metabolizing and excreting which, in turn, leads to homeostasis. This refers to the body’s ability to regulate its inner environment to ensure stability as it responds to changes in the external environment. Poor diets that include foods rich in sugars and fats can contribute to other health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. While chiropractors prescribe natural, drug-free treatments their focus remains on the body’s ability to heal itself. With factors such as diet, exercise, rest and hereditary issues affecting optimum body functioning, chiropractors will consider a patient’s medical history, past injuries, present symptoms, and postural analysis. Further physical, neurological and orthopedic examinations may be included and, dependent on the findings, patients may be referred to other health practitioners for additional consultation.

Nutritional therapy has evolved as a need for such specialist treatment grows from the persistent nutritional deficiencies that are commonplace in the world today. Stressful environments and a lack of essential nutrients in the daily diet demand additional support to aid the body in preventative health care.

Vitamin D and Spinal HealthShould Non-Celiac Patients Go Gluten-Free?Preventing Stroke with NutritionHerbal Supplements Better than Drugs for MigrainesChildhood Obesity Linked to Back ProblemsVitamin D Deficiency Increases Fracture Risk in Older AdultsWhich Vitamins are Right for YouThe Vitamin Fibromyalgia Patients are MissingCitrus and Flavones Reduce Risk of Stroke

New research suggests there may be a link between the body’s vitamin D levels and spinal health. The majority of patients who were about the receive spinal-fusion surgery had alarmingly low levels of vitamin D in one study presented last week at the North American Spinal Society conference.

The study was conducted the Washington University of St. Louis. Researchers tested 313 patients scheduled to receive spinal-fusion surgery. 57% of patients had inadequate vitamin D levels, enough to be considered a deficiency. This was especially concerning given that spinal-fusion surgery requires the body to create new bone, something that requires high amounts of vitamin D.

Although the patients ready to receive the surgery may present a special case, researchers did recommend that any patient eligible for back surgery should be checked for low levels of vitamin D, especially if they’re over the age of 55 or have a history of smoking, obesity, and diabetes. The study also raised important questions about the role of vitamin D in potentially preventing spinal degeneration.

Before resorting to the risk of surgery, a doctor of chiropractic can provide effective, conservative care that has proven results for curing many back-pain patients. Many chiropractors have also received nutritional training and can assist you on making the right vitamin choices for your unique health needs.

Fauber, John. “Vitamin D Often Depleted in Spine Surgery Patients.” Medpage Today.  November 4, 2011. Accessed November 10, 2011.


Is “gluten-free” just the latest diet craze? That’s what critics say who point out that despite the growing popularity of gluten-free diets, only 2% of Americans have actually been diagnosed with celiac disease, according a 2012 survey.

People with celiac disease can have dangerous allergic reactions when exposed to gluten, a protein found in wheat. Some doctors say there’s no need for patients to avoid gluten if they don’t actually have celiac disease since doing so without a balanced diet could deprive them of much-needed nutrients found in wheat products. But many people argue that going gluten-free helps them gain more energy, lose weight, and ease gastrointestinal symptoms.

Recent research suggests that gluten intolerance isn’t limited to those with celiac disease. A 2011 study included 34 patients with irritable bowel syndrome who did not have celiac disease but said that a gluten-free diet controlled their symptoms.

To test whether the improvement in symptoms was simply the result of the placebo effect, the participants were given two slices of bread and one muffin to eat daily during the study. Half of the participants received bread and muffins containing gluten and half received gluten-free versions specially formulated to be identical in taste and texture to the regular versions. Participants were unaware of which version they received and were simply told to record their symptoms during the study. In the gluten group, 68% of people said their symptoms worsened with more bloating, pain, tiredness, and loose stool.

“Although this study does not identify a mechanism for non-celiac gluten intolerance, it provides the most convincing evidence yet for the existence of this condition,” stated William F. Balistreri, MD, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, who commented on the research in a recent article from Medscape.

These findings, along with other recent research, led a panel of celiac experts to conclude that there is a broad umbrella of “gluten-related disorders”, even in people without celiac disease. However they still do not know how many people are affected by non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or even how to reliability diagnose it.

Although more research is needed to understand non-celiac gluten sensitivities, many patients with irritable bowel syndrome, Chrone’es disease, or other gastrointestinal disorders may benefit from avoiding gluten. Experts caution against going gluten-free without the guidance of health provider however.

“Certainly, getting tested for celiac disease before commencing a gluten-free trial is still optimal,” Dr. Balistreri explained. That’s because people with celiac disease have an increased risk of cancer, are forced to adhere to a lifelong strict diet, and may have an inherited intolerance requiring family members to be screened, he pointed out.

A doctor of chiropractic trained in nutrition may be able to identify whether you have a gluten sensitivity, and support you in making healthy nutrition decisions.


Balistreri W. “Could this patient have ‘non-celiac gluten sensitivity’? Medscape Today. February 11,2013. Accessed March 14, 2013.

Biesiekierski JR, Newnham ED, Irving PM, et al. Gluten causes gastrointestinal symptoms in subjects without celiac disease: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2011;106:508-514.

Ludvigsson JF, et al. The Oslo definitions for coeliac disease and related terms. GUT 2012; 62 (1): 43-52.

Between 1970 and 2008, the risk of stroke in high income countries fell by 42%. This time period coincided with increased public awareness of the health dangers of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking. Further understanding of the role of nutrition in the incidence of stroke is crucial to developing strategies to minimize this risk.

A recent review examined the evidence linking poor nutrition, over-nutrition, obesity, and diet to the risk of stroke by examining the results of studies examining nutrition and stroke risk.

The findings of this review are diverse. Among the most important findings are: Dietary supplementation with antioxidants, calcium, and B vitamins does not reduce the risk of stroke, while diets that are low in salt and sugar while high in potassium could reduce the risk of stroke. The overall quality of the diet, and balance between energy intake and expenditure (avoiding over-nutrition or malnutrition) seem to be more important determinants of stroke risk than individual foods or nutrients.

Further research is needed to add to the evidence relating to the association of nutrients, foods, and dietary patterns with stroke risk. A doctor of chiropractic trained in nutrition can advise you on making healthy lifestyle choices to prevent stroke and other conditions associated with aging.


Hankey GJ. Nutrition and the risk of stroke. Lancet Neurology 2012; 11: 661-81

New research has revealed that butterbur, a natural herbal supplement, may be better at preventing migraines than several commonly-prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (frequently called NSAIDs).

Researchers analyzed 49 studies on migraine treatments performed from 1999 to 2009. They then rated the various treatments on their ability to prevent migraines. The research was part of new set of guidelines for treating migraines developed by the American Headache Society and the American Academy of Neurology.

The researchers concluded that among natural and over-the-counter preventative treatments, herbal supplements of butterbur were the most effective for preventing migraines. Taking supplements containing magnesium, feverfew, and riboflavin were also shown to be as effective as some drugs at preventing migraine occurrences. The researchers rated these supplements, along with NSAIDS like ibuprofen and naproxen, “probably effective” for preventing migraines.

Many treatments are available for migraine prevention. However, few patients actually take them. The journal Neurology has published research showing that while 38 percent of migraine sufferers would benefit from preventive medication, but only 3-13% use it. As a result, the American Academy of Neurology has placed a new emphasis on preventing in their new guidelines.

Preventive medications are taken daily to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. Many of these treatments are available without a prescription. However, Stephen Silberstein of the AAN

says patients should consult their doctors to determine correct dosage to control their migraines. This can change, since migraines can become better or worse over time. Chiropractic care and regular exercise are two additional natural treatments that have been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines.

Photo by Adam KR via Creative Commons.


Holland S, Silberstein S, Freitag F, et al. Evidence-based guideline update: NSAIDs and other complementary treatments for episodic migraine prevention in adults: Report of the quality standards subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society. Neurology 2012; 78 (17): 1346-1353.

Lipton RB, Bigal ME, Diamond M, Freitag F, et al. Migraine prevalence, disease burden, and the need for preventive therapy. Neurology 2007; 68(5): 343– 349.

Overweight children are at greater risk of back pain and lifelong spinal problems, according to a study presented in November of 2009 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. Researchers demonstrated a link between higher body mass index (BMI) in children and disc abnormalities, primarily in the lower back.

“We observed a trend toward increased spine abnormality with higher BMI… These results demonstrate a strong relationship between increased BMI in the pediatric population and the incidence of lumbar disc disease,” said the study’s primary author, Dr. Judah Burns, from The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, according to an article in Science Daily.

Body mass index alone appeared to be the determining factor in disc deterioration. Children who had experienced back trauma or related injuries that could cause back pain were removed from the study. The identification of obesity’s contribution to early spinal problems may be a key to the prevention of significant back problems in adulthood.

More than 17% of children ages 6-19 are overweight, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, recent studies in Europe show that 39% of adolescents report low back pain at least once a month. It is critical that childhood obesity and its impacts on spinal health be addressed early to prevent future disability.


Burns J, Erdfarb AJ, Schneider J, Ginsburg D, Taragin B., and Lipton ML. Radiological Society of North America. “Overweight Children May Develop Back Pain and Spinal Abnormalities.” Science Daily

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Childhood Overweight and Obesity” 20 October 2009

Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. “Prevalence of Low Back Pain and Its Effect on Health-Related Quality of Life in Adolescents” 1 January 2009.

Vitamin D supplements could prevent brittle bones but many older adults lack sufficient levels of the vitamin. In a recent survey of older adults who sustained fractures, 64% had deficient vitamin D levels and 90% had insufficient calcium levels. Taking high doses of vitamin D could be an important preventive measure for older adults, a new study suggests.

In the study, high doses of vitamin D reduced the risk of hip fractures in older adults by 30% and the risk non-vertebral fractures by 14%. The meta-analysis differed from previous studies because researchers examined the actual amount of vitamin D participants consumed rather than the amount they were assigned to take. Of the 31,022 adults surveyed, those who took at least 800 IU of vitamin D had the largest reduction in fractures.

Taking vitamin D supplements could improve bone and spinal health, regardless of age. Consult with your chiropractor or health practitioner to determine whether vitamin D supplementation makes sense for you.

Bischoff-Ferrari H, et al. A pooled analysis of vitamin D dose requirements for fracture prevention. N Engl J of Med 2012; 367:40-49.

Do you take vitamins? If so, you’re in the company of more than half of Americans who report taking a multivitamin or other dietary supplement. These tiny little capsules have garnered a lot of attention in the news lately.

The varying results from these studies remind us of the complexity of nutrition and vitamins. While many supplements can be beneficial for your health, other supplements still need further research to understand their full impact.

There are some guidelines though that can help you determine which supplements you should include in your diet:

First, not all supplements are created equally. Low-grade supplements are often not as soluble, which means the body has difficulty accessing the nutrients. If you’re going through the trouble of taking vitamins, you want to make sure they’re high-quality so your body can experience the full benefits. Many chiropractors have quality supplements on hand in their office or can recommend good sources.

Second, there seems to be a consensus among doctors that the best way to receive vitamins is through eating healthy food.  A lot of people have grown accustomed to eating primarily processed foods which often lack the nutritional benefits of unprocessed foods. And taking a vitamin isn’t a simple answer to that lack of nutrition either. Nutrients inside of food interact in complex ways that can’t always be replicated in supplements. Taking supplements can be a good way to enhance your healthy diet or fill-in if you have vitamin deficiency, but they aren’t meant to replace a healthy diet. Ask your doctor for more information about healthy nutrition and vitamin deficiency.

Finally, every person will have a unique set of vitamin needs. What supplements you should take depends on several factors like your diet, age, and sex, whether your have a deficiency. Your chiropractor has received nutritional training and can counsel you on which supplements are right for you.Your chiropractor does more than just treat pain; they’re there to help you lead a happier, healthier life.

Fibromyalgia patients are at risk of vitamin D deficiency according to a new study from Ireland. In the study, 36% of fibromyalgia patients had deficient levels of vitamin D and 62% had insufficient levels. That meant only 15% of patients were getting adequate levels of the vitamin.

The patients were mostly middle-aged women. Researchers pointed out that the women’s vitamin D levels may have been affected by the fact they lived in seldom-sunny Ireland. When it is sunny, patients may still choose to stay indoors because of their disability and pain.

Low vitamin D levels can increase the risk of cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children, cancer, and more. Vitamin D helps the body maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. It also allows the body to absorb calcium to strengthen the bones.

Previous research has investigated the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and musculoskeletal pain with conflicting results. In some studies, fibromyalgia patients had low levels of the vitamin but in others their levels were no different than control participants.  In one study vitamin D supplementation appeared to have no specific clinical benefits for fibromyalgia patients.

Still, there does appear to be link between vitamin D deficiency and muscle pain. While more research is needed to understand this link, vitamin D supplements could benefit the overall health of fibromyalgia patients.

Consult with your chiropractor or health practitioner to learn which vitamins are right for you.


Jan A, et al. “Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels in patients with fibromyalgia” BSR2012; Abstract 231.

Walsh, Nancy. Medpage Today. Vitamin D May be Help in Fibromyalgia. May 3, 2012. Accessed May 10, 2012.

We know citrus for its immunity-boosting vitamin C properties, but the fruits may have another health benefit: reducing your risk of stroke. Citrus fruits are a good source of flavones, a subclass of flavonoids, that were tied to lower rates of stroke in a recent analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study. Flavonoids are a class of plant pigments that act as antioxidants and have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

In the study, 69, 622 participants completed questionnaires on their food intake every four years for 14 years. Researchers also tracked whether participants had strokes, and which types of strokes they had.

Using a state-of-the art food database, researchers analyzed participants’ diets for the presence of six common flavonoids. They discovered that people who consumed less flavones had an increased risk of ischemic strokes. In the fourteen years of the study, ischemic strokes occurred more frequently than other types of strokes.

Citrus was not the only source of flavonoids in participants’ diets. Tea, non-sugary citrus juices, apples, and blueberries all contributed to increasing participants’ flavonoid intake. But only flavones were linked to a significant decrease in strokes, and none of the flavonoids were associated with a decrease in hemorrhagic strokes.

There’s no magic vitamin or nutrient for preventing strokes, but an overall healthy, balanced diet may significantly decrease your risk. Talk to qualified nutritionist or a chiropractor trained in nutrition to learn more about healthy dietary and vitamin choices.

Anderson, Pauline. Flavanones in Citrus Fruit May Lower Stroke Risk. Medscape Today. February 23, 2012. Accessed April 3, 2012.

Cassidy, A, Rimm E, O’Reilly E, Logroscino G, Chiuve S, Rexrode K. Dietary Flavonoids and Risk of Stroke in Women. Stroke 2012;doi: 10.1161/​STROKEAHA.111.637835.

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