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Episode 67: Signs of Nutrient Deficiency with Dr. Cheryl Kam

Brief summary of show:

Do you know the signs of nutrient deficiency?

Oftentimes we find ourselves tired, burnt out, and stressed out – but did you know that can be due to lack of nutrients in our body?

Joining me for this conversation is Functional Medicine Doctor Dr. Cheryl Kam. After 20 years of clinical experience, she now empowers moms to take control of their own health and understand where their lack of energy comes from.

A highlight from this conversation is the importance of understanding how common nutrient debt is, which frequently holds a mom back from thriving in her seasons.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [2:20] What is nutrient debt

  • [4:10] The number one nutrient deficit

  • [6:30] How to get tested for nutrient deficiency

  • [11:50] Kids and nutrient deficiency

  • [13:20] How to re-energize and balance your nutrient intake

  • [17:30] The impact of having too many nutrients in our bodies

Notes from Natalie:

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Connect with Dr. Cheryl Kam

Connect with Me

View Transcript for this Episode

[00:00:00] Natalie Tysdal: Hi everyone. It's Natalie, how's your summer. I hope you're out and about and enjoying yourself. I'm thrilled to be getting outside every single day. Those long cold days of winter are really hard for me. As I love being outside. I also love fresh foods and gardening. So summer is by far my favorite time of the year, I started thinking about the topic of today's podcast months ago, as I was making dinner, I've always believed in a colorful dinner plate with a variety of natural foods, but so many people.

[00:00:29] Just wing it and they eat whatever they feel like eating it all made me realize how important it is that we actually think about and get the right nutrients every day. Nutrient deficiency can lead to all kinds of problems you might not know about from moodiness. To hormone fluctuation, many other issues as well.

[00:00:49] So today I'm talking with functional medicine, Dr. Cheryl cam, she studied advanced nutrient therapy and brain biochemistry by the Walsh research Institute in Chicago. She currently low lives in Singapore. Cheryl specializes in burnout, chronic eczema, severe mood and hormone disbalance as well. I'm thrilled.

[00:01:09] To be learning from her today. And I know you're gonna enjoy this conversation before we get started. I wanna thank you and ask you to hit the subscribe button wherever you are listening to this podcast. So you don't miss an episode. Let's get started now and get healthy in today's podcast.


[00:01:27] Natalie Tysdal: Cheryl is joining me now and this topic. I don't think it's something Cheryl that people think about that often, but then they feel lousy and they don't know why.

[00:01:37] So let's get into nutrient debt. What is it? And what should we be

[00:01:41] Dr. Cheryl Kam: doing about it? Absolutely. And thank you for asking that question because in my practice as a GP at first, which is a general practitioner, family physician, Later on moving a little bit more into holistic health, functional medicine, you know, complimentary therapies, things like that.

[00:02:01] That was my work for the last five to seven to 10 years. And in that time I was seeing a lot of women and a lot of women would come in and I would tell, tell them, Hey, you need to get your nutrients. Need to get your nutrients checked and I'll give you a little bit of a, I mean, what it was, it was like 80 or 90% of women that I would see having a complaint of some sort, you know, and me having already an inkling that, okay, you know, this is a hormonal issue or, you know, definitely the thyroid is in there or there is IBS.

[00:02:31] Sure. But 80 to 90% of them also had a nutrient debt, a nutrient deficit of the five things that I was testing. So that's pretty stark cuz I was, you know, one of the only people testing for your nutrients, such as Zi Kim copper and make we don't test for magnesium, but. Being alert to a magnesium deficiency, for example, vitamin D B12 is dropping them all here because they're so common.

[00:03:00] The deficiencies are so common, but they're so poorly managed. And a lot of these women, especially, which is majority of my clientele, which is who would cycle through. up to five different specialists because they had, you know, you know, issues wrong with them, whatever will not have had any of these checked.

[00:03:18] And when we correct them, they go, how come? No, one's checked this. Yeah. How come? No, one's fixed me this way. And on a number one, one.

[00:03:28] Yes, a big difference. And the number one uh, nutrient deficit that I find that nobody checks and they check terribly is is, is iron because in the first place you don't test for iron.

[00:03:39] Yeah. You test for uh, Fein. Amongst a bunch of other tests, you know, so,

[00:03:44] Natalie Tysdal: and that is a specific type of iron. Right. And I only know this. Yeah. Because I have continually had low Farin iron over the years Uhhuh. And so we'll talk later. yeah. Dive deeper into that because, okay. Let's I feel. Horrible when that's low.

[00:04:01] And I, I remember once going into my doctor and he did test and it was so low. He said, I don't know you how you have any energy, but I was so glad that I knew that's what it was, but I'm glad you brought up iron, but let's, let's go into those. You said there are five big

[00:04:16] Dr. Cheryl Kam: culprits. I think I mentioned more than five already, but okay.

[00:04:19] What are the ones that you see

[00:04:21] Natalie Tysdal: most often iron being a big one, but the ones you are like, like on the top of the list, don't know they're taking like a multivitamin or, you know, they think that they eat pretty healthy, but then they actually do a test and it it's a big, a big problem. What are the ones that you

[00:04:36] Dr. Cheryl Kam: most often do?

[00:04:37] The top two? I will just say cuz I've mentioned ion vitamin DB 12 and full, late zinc and zinc and copper mm-hmm there are so many, I mean there's also selenium, so I have an eye on those things. But the top two are really iron, your iron status, which is governed or depicted by your ferratin number.

[00:04:55] Yeah. And then the second one is vitamin D. That's a straightforward one because with vitamin D you just test it and it's low top it up and it's very easy. You can do it with you know, capsules and pills that you can get on. IUB for example, you have IUB there. Yeah. Is IUB big there? No. Okay.

[00:05:14] I guess we need to know about that. Yeah. Yeah. I distributor of, of uh, you know, um, non practitioners. So what do you call that? Like retail supplements. Mm-hmm mm-hmm yeah. Yeah. So a whole bunch of retail supplements on there, which you can use to top up in, in, you know, there are some good vitamins out there of course, functional practitioners like myself.

[00:05:33] We will use practitioner. Prescribed lines mm-hmm that we feel like, oh yeah, you know, I'm more pure or maybe they focus more on detox or something like that. Yeah. But for the regular person, if you, you can find some good stuff on IHOP.

[00:05:46] Natalie Tysdal: let's talk for a moment about how people can get tested like this because I, and maybe where you are, it's more common, but it's certainly not in other places where, you know, you just try to eat a healthy diet, but you might not know without.

[00:06:00] Asking your general practitioner, can you do some type of test and what does that type of test look like? Is it a blood test?

[00:06:09] Dr. Cheryl Kam: What is it? Yes. Yeah. So, you know, one of the things that I really wanted to get out was this knowledge, right? I wanna make it more common and more easy for everyone to kind of work with that doctor.

[00:06:19] You see, so these tests are easy to obtain from your doctor and from regular labs so that your doctor has access to those labs as well. I think it should work the same over there as well. And, and globally, you work with a primary care physician and say, Hey, can I have my ferritin checked? Can I have also my vitamin D by BTO folate?

[00:06:39] And just do these one. So I go through those in In my signature course, which is four videos long, we do have to dive into it because you know, now on the podcast we said, oh yeah, fer. And actually, actually we do need to pair the fer numbers up with your hemoglobin levels, which is your red cell count.

[00:06:58] We need to pair that up with the iron binding capacity and together with the iron saturations to have a full picture of what your iron really is. And this is what you, I teach. You or, or anyone who's interested in learning and being a self healer or, or, or, you know, interested in independent learning.

[00:07:18] And this is the same thing I teach doctors. And I think we're at this time now where we're like, you know doctors' nutritional knowledge is not caught up with, with the lay people's nutritional knowledge. And I'm, I'm, I'm just thinking, well, actually that's fine. , that's fine. Cuz you know, people need to be well and people have brains and they can study this stuff and I can teach it very simply.

[00:07:43] so there are cheat sheets and everything that you can download and, and you can even show the doctor, Hey, you know, I, I wanna test for this and I also wanna follow these optimal ranges to aim for in my health, cuz I'm aiming for optimal health. I don't just wanna be alive. right.

[00:07:59] Natalie Tysdal: We wanna feel good. We wanna be energized.

[00:08:02] Correct. For many people. I always think if I'm eating well, I shouldn't have deficiencies. If I'm eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and, you know, good proteins, is that true? I mean, are we just eating poorly or is that just something that we just think might

[00:08:19] Dr. Cheryl Kam: be the problem? Yeah. I mean, it's really difficult to get into it because you know, our perceptions are one thing.

[00:08:25] We think that it's um, healthy or, you know, we think we're having a normal diet, but in Singapore where I am, the normal diet is, is everyday eating out. You know and it's quite nutrient deplete food because the kind of oils that they're using and the way they're overcooking the food to prevent mm-hmm contamination and things that, Dena natures a lot of vitamins for a start. So I think the question also is about how are we so deplete in the first place? Like, why do we need supplements? Right. They're artificial replacements, right? For what we're lacking in our diet. Mm-hmm, , there's so many reasons why this can be, and, and, and I go through them in my course, cuz these, these questions have been asked like multiple times is the fact that we're running ourselves a little bit more.

[00:09:14] Harder mm-hmm during our daily lives. Right. You know, sometimes at the same time we're a mom and we've push up babies. And at the same time, some people wanna be athletes as well, or like get back their body. Like that's a very fragile time in a woman's life, but that's also a time you can run down your nutrients plus not eating enough plus our produce.

[00:09:34] Possibly, you know, actually for real, being less nutritious than before, you know? Yeah. Our soil quality is different now. And the other thing that um, you know, I've recently put out a course on is about toxins. And I put out a detox course because that's, what's holding a lot of people back all the metals and the pesticides and.

[00:09:58] You know, the microplastics and, and, and whatnot, and that we're, we're battling with every day. It takes a lot of energy out of our bodies. And therefore it's gonna take a lot of nutrient you know, nutrients out of our bodies.

[00:10:10] Natalie Tysdal: All it's sad to think that, that you can be eating pretty healthy and still be battling these things because of yes.

[00:10:16] Soil quality or toxins and plastics. And I've talked a lot about that actually in the podcast. And I'll put some links in this podcast for those past episodes, because those are big, big issues. Let's talk about, because I know you have three little ones under the age of six, and I worry often about my kids not getting, I mean, I mean, we could talk about people our age and others and that going to our doctors, but

[00:10:40] Natalie: everyone. It's Natalie. I am excited to let you know that I'm opening up spaces for collaboration and advertising and sponsorship on this podcast. And on my YouTube channel, if you're a brand looking to grow in the wellness family or mindfulness spaces, I would love to collaborate with you. You can find a link to get in touch with me in the show notes, and you can always find out more about what I'm up to on Natalie


[00:11:08] Natalie Tysdal: do you worry about our kids having nutrient deficit as

[00:11:15] Dr. Cheryl Kam: well?

[00:11:16] Oh, absolutely. And it really starts with the mom having been deficient during the pregnancy. And of course, then you'll in, you know, you can figure out, okay, well, if a mom was low in vitamin D and low in iron in the pregnancy, then you'll have a baby who is low in iron and low in vitamin D. You'll always have to be playing catch up unless you've figured that out.

[00:11:37] And you're supplementing. . Yeah. Yeah. So it's a sad situation where we, we have to have supplements and that synthetic supplements are something that we use. But when a person is at the beginning of this journey and you've got debt, don't you wanna patch up the debt first, at least get to zero before you then carry on and to maintain good health, you do have to eat well, but at least we can get you there quicker.

[00:12:03] Yeah. And with certainty and, you know, get you there quicker and then you gotta maintain it. And at some point you will find that you can come off these supplements. You will find that if you forgot to bring your supplements while on holiday, you're good. And that I feel is optimal health. But to jump from being a nutrient debt to wanting to be an optimal health, which is food alone.

[00:12:25] I think that's the tricky part.

[00:12:27] Natalie Tysdal: Yeah, I do too. Mm-hmm so I'm hearing your top recommendation being, get tested, know where your deficiencies are so that you can patch them up.

[00:12:36] What other recommendations would you have for people to re-energize to balance their nutrients or give themselves more?

[00:12:45] Dr. Cheryl Kam: I'm mean a quick tip here is one of the nutrients that we talk about in the kickstart, your nutrients, chorus, magnesium.

[00:12:52] That's one that is not as reliable tested. Okay. Is when we test your blood, we actually need to, it doesn't correlate with how much magnesium there is in your cells. And most of the modern day person will benefit from magnesium. And when you take magnesium, I dunno if you've tried, you do feel it. You do feel calmer and less anxious and more relaxed.

[00:13:15] And that's lovely. When taken in the evening to help you drift off into sleep with a good sleep hygiene, which, which then I talk about, well, again, sleep is just one of those really mega things that is not so sexy, but if you're not sleeping, Your nutrients are just not gonna go the mile. It's get yourself tested.

[00:13:35] Even if you take the best, eat the best food. It's just gonna not absorb very well. So magnesium is one of my favorites to promote also then the sleep and then everything else can, can then work a lot better. I

[00:13:47] Natalie Tysdal: do magnesium in the in EPS and salt baths. That's my routine and it's almost like I can't sleep without it because it's become such a great way to calm down.

[00:13:57] And I've always been low in magnesium, too many people are, and they don't know it.

[00:14:03] Dr. Cheryl Kam: Yeah. And what constitutes low also. So at the end of the day, it's like, well, instead of sending for a hundred dollars test or, or, or what, you know uh, spend this money, getting heaps of magnesium and take it, cuz it's so safe and, and then see how you feel after that.

[00:14:18] Yeah. You know, so I'm a little bit more pragmatic in my approach when some tests become too expensive or inaccessible in the functional medicine world, this is a little bit of bad rep because people think, oh, functional medicine. Well, let me make sure I have thousands and thousands to throw into tests.

[00:14:32] Well, that's not true. The tests that we talk about in the, in the new trip course are all easily available sometimes, even on, on, you know, Medi save or. Or what programs, health programs that you have they're very, very easily available and very cheap. To do. They're just not being read properly.

[00:14:49] Yeah. You know? Yeah. So I've come across doctors patients who've come through doctors who have done those tests, but they were subnormal and they were not mentioned to the patient like, Hey, you know, if you correct this, you could feel a lot better. Is it safe

[00:15:03] Natalie Tysdal: to you mention, I mean, magnesium is so safe.

[00:15:05] EPS and salt baths, like many of these things are over the counter retail, as you mentioned. Yes. Is it safe without being tested to say. Maybe it would be good for me to have more vitamin D or magnesium or iron. I mean, you, the iron is one you would have to be more careful of, but is it absolutely say I'm gonna just go buy over the counter vitamins because I hear that they might be good.

[00:15:28] And you know, then

[00:15:29] Dr. Cheryl Kam: you're just kind of, that's why I only mention the magnesium because of magnesium's one that you can kind of quite safely guess, or, you know, have a habit around mm-hmm . And feel it, whereas iron vitamin D, those B12 fo zinc, they can add up on into the body and give you other problems as well, and kind of offset the rest of the balance with the other nutrients, all.

[00:15:50] So, so it's kind of a good idea if you're already feeling bad, you know to get it right. Yeah. Rather than doing something and then giving yourself another problem, which I have found somebody thought that they were. Needing more zinc. They wanted more pep in their day. This is a guy and zinc is marketed as, you know, a boost testosterone and sex drive and you know, better at the gym, whatever.

[00:16:13] So a lot of gym supplements have a lot of zinc in there and he had the mores merrier mentality of Zi. Well, if you are pushing zinc in the body, the body can hang on to copper. It hasn't bless you. Copper has an sneeze. Bless you. Yeah, it has an inverse relat. Right. So he came in with symptoms of a low copper, which is dangerous.

[00:16:32] You get dizziness and you get heart palpitations with copper and heart issues as well. So all we did was stop his zinc intake. Wow. So those sometimes

[00:16:42] Natalie Tysdal: too much of something is of course the other problem.

[00:16:45] We talked a lot about the deficit, but mm-hmm, having too much of something you wanna know. That's probably the most important lesson here.

[00:16:52] Is it better to know and be aware and then start balancing things out by reading your levels? It's very

[00:16:59] Dr. Cheryl Kam: simple, actually. It really is. Yeah. Actually quite simple. And so I teach that and we've got cheat sheets that I give out because once you know this stuff, sure. Life happens. Sometimes we top ourselves up and then we go, oh, no, like, oh, I'm pregnant again.

[00:17:13] Oh, I'm low in iron again. Like then, then you know what to do. And this, I can't take that information back, you know, like once someone's learned. So that's one of my most popular starting points. This kickstart immunity and, and, and especially for women who are trying to have babies, these nutrient deficits actually affect fertility.

[00:17:33] In a big way, you bet. Um, Yeah. And then all, and with the tricky pregnancies as well, when these nutrients are good, the pregnancy tends to be smoother, less tiring, less fatiguing, right. And then obviously birth outcomes as well. And then your baby is all, you know, gonna have good levels of this.

[00:17:51] Natalie Tysdal: Yeah. And then you look at.

[00:17:53] 20 years later, me and you and you get the hormone changes and talk about, you know, having energy, not having energy, like knowing what your baseline is, knowing what you're missing. Absolutely. Because everything starts, you feel, start to feel funny at that age as well. So

[00:18:11] Dr. Cheryl Kam: the menopause and the menopause, I mean, the last thing you want is also a very basic nutrient Def deficit holding you back, you know?

[00:18:18] Right. Your body's already trying to adjust to new hormone levels. Right. you know, and that will give mood changes. And energy changes. And you don't want also then having an iron deficiency, for example, which also gives mood changes and hair loss and, and all these things kind of like mixed up in the pictures.

[00:18:36] So these are very, very, I mean, all I wanna say is that these are very easy things to fix and, and I teach those. And, you know, once you have that, I think you, you then can have. either a decent conversation with your GP. Or you can just ask your GP to do it, and then you can go read up on your own and yeah.

[00:18:53] And, and read it on your own, interpret it on your own and supplement on your own as well. So all the tools are there. Whether you have a good GP that, that wants to do the test for you, or whether you go and find a private lab to do it whatever it is, it's not gonna set you back more than a hundred dollars to, yeah.

[00:19:08] Natalie Tysdal: I would just encourage people to, give yourself that knowledge, don't hold yourself back because the more, you know, and the more you understand the better you're gonna feel, because you can do

[00:19:16] Dr. Cheryl Kam: something about it. Absolutely. Yeah. And, you know, especially with moms, I mean, they think about the kids first and they worry about the kids' nutrients, but you're not gonna be thinking as, as vibrantly or as clearly of your own nutrients are poor.

[00:19:32] And a lot of moms are like that. The self-sacrificing. Why do we do that? We all do that. Gotta work on that. where can, yeah, it's so common with kids. I didn't like super. Answer your question, but yeah, you're right. I mean, we came back to the fact that it really is based on the mom and, and how the pregnancy went.

[00:19:50] A lot of it anyway. Yeah. And then of course you can't really judge their eating habits, which nowadays they're much more tend to go for soft, you know, non textured food and sweet foods, right. With kids processed food, just cuz the stuff is around. Yeah. Which is quite sad. Yeah. It really.

[00:20:06] Natalie Tysdal: I know mm-hmm okay.

[00:20:07] I wanna let people know where they can find out more. You've mentioned many things that you offer, where can people

[00:20:12] Dr. Cheryl Kam: find you? Oh, it's all on one page. Yeah. So I would love to, I mean, I'm on Instagram a lot and I think we found each other on that's we found each other. Yeah. Yeah. so yeah, I'm on Instagram a lot.

[00:20:21] And my handle is Dr. Cheryl come D R C H E R Y L K a M. But my website is, is where all the courses sit. So that's the vibrant life

[00:20:33] Natalie Tysdal: Wonderful. Well, we'll link that in the show notes as well. Thank you. And Cheryl, thank you so much. I hope to make it across the world one day, meet you in person, but until then, I'll be lovely.

[00:20:43] Dr. Cheryl Kam: Yeah. Grateful

[00:20:44] Natalie Tysdal: for technology so that we could have such a great

[00:20:46] Dr. Cheryl Kam: conversation. I know.

[00:20:47] Natalie Tysdal: Thank you so much. I

[00:20:48] Dr. Cheryl Kam: so appreciate it. Great to talk to you.

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