Every patient I have tested so far has been deficient in at least one micronutrient (vitamins and nutritionally essential minerals), and the vast majority have multiple deficiencies.
This is consistent with the data reported in the large national survey (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, “NHANES”), which found that 93% of the US population do not meet the estimated average requirement for vitamin E, 56% for magnesium, 44% for vitamin A, 31% for vitamin C, 14% for vitamin B6, and 12% for zinc.(ref)
Why Does This Matter?
This matters because nearly every physiological function in your body requires micronutrients to function properly. Vitamin and minerals compounds play a key role in:
- Strengthening the immune system
- Reducing systemic inflammation
- Protecting against free radical damage
- Maintaining a healthful hormonal balance (i.e. thyroid, sex hormones, adrenal hormones, neurotransmitters/brain hormones, etc.)
- Maintaining insulin sensitivity
- Slowing cellular aging
- Promoting the health all tissues: skin, bone, brain, breast, gut, breast, prostate, heart, etc.
- Protecting against the development, progression and recurrence of cancer.
You can suffer from numerous symptoms when you have micronutrient deficiencies, but without testing, there is no way to know if they might be related to a deficiency (that can be fixed with dietary changes or supplements) or any number of other potential causes.
If you take prescription medications you can be at risk of developing micronutrient deficiencies.
Did you know that taking a dietary micronutrient supplement can potentially increase your risk of cancer and other medical problems?
Our body requires only a small amount of these important compounds to function properly. If you overwhelm the system, you can alter the normal physiological mechanisms that use these compounds, so that instead of them be healthful, they can be harmful. This can even happen with foods that are rich in specific micronutrients, but it happens less frequently.
What Test Do I Use?
I use the SpectraCell Micronutrient Test, because it provides a comprehensive panel of the most important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids (protein building blocks) and assessments of carbohydrate (sugar) metabolism. They also have two very useful assessments of total antioxidant function (Spectrox) and immune function (Immunidex.)
The reports are relatively easy to understand, and they provide recommendations on how to improve any identified deficiencies.
How Do You Get This Test?
- It is not recommended that you interpret your own lab results. With any medical report, best clinical outcomes are achieved when results are reviewed with a professional.
If you prefer to place your order over the phone, please call SpectraCell’s Client Services: (800) 227-5227
You can also have the test ordered through many physician offices.
The test is covered (in part or in full) by many insurances, Medicare and Medicaid. You will need to contact SpectraCell’s Client Services to learn more: (800) 227-5227
What Do I Do With The Information From This Test?
I sit down with my patient, and we discuss any nutrient deficiencies identified on the report. Then, we review their diet and determine if there are any obvious areas in which they can improve their intake of foods rich in these compounds. My preference is for patients to try to increase their consumption of these foods, and then re-test them in 3-6 months to see if they can normalize their deficiencies. If they can not, then it is time to assess what other issues might be going on:
- Are there potential gut absorption issues? (we can test for these)
- Are there potential genetic abnormalities in folate metabolism? (we can test for these)
- Are they simply not able to consume enough foods with the micronutrients in question?
- Are they taking any medications that might be causing a micronutrient deficiency?
The next step after these questions have been addressed would be to recommend a high-quality dietary supplement. I then recommend re-testing again in 3-6 months to see if the problem has resolved.
The Bottom Line:
If you don’t know that you have a micronutrient deficiency, you are potentially putting your body in a state in which it can’t function optimally.
There are numerous adverse symptoms and untoward physiological effects that could manifest as a result (i.e. weakened immune system, increased systemic inflammation, increased exposure and cellular damage from free radicals, etc.)
A simple blood test can help you identify these potential deficiencies, so you and your provider (integrative/functional medicine doctor, dietician, nutritionist, etc.) can help address them effectively.
Simply taking a dietary micronutrient supplement without knowing if you have a deficiency can potentially increase your risk of cancer and other medical problems.
Other Micronutrient Tests:
I also really like the Genova Diagnostic tests, but they are more costly.