Dr. Lawenda often recommends getting a baseline and follow-up micronutrient (vitamins, minerals amino acids and fatty acids) assessments to get a better understanding of your nutrient status. This can help with making dietary or supplemental adjustments to optimize your levels of these crucial co-factors that are essential for all physiological processes in the body. Deficiencies can lead to dysfunction of all enzymes, mitochondria, immune function, detoxification, tissue healing, neurocognitive, mood, memory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and endocrine health.
The test shown in this video is the Genova NutrEval assay. The other micronutrient assay Dr. Lawenda often recommends is the SpectraCell assay (which also includes a proprietary score for total body antioxidants “Spectrox Score” and immune function “Immunidex Score”).
Dr. Lawenda offers the Genova NutrEval lab test here.**Spectracell test is no longer available on IOE Program
Dr. Lawenda recommends getting your micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) tested. Some assays also include testing of your amino acids and fatty acids.
Did you know that most adults in the U.S. are deficient in multiple micronutrients? Data reported in the large national survey (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, “NHANES”) 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)
These are important compounds that are required for the proper functioning of every enzyme and cell in your body:
- 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.
Deficiencies are typically not associated with obvious symptoms (i.e. it’s very rare to get scurvy or a massive goiter in the modern era), but inadequate levels of these nutrients still wreak havoc throughout the body. If you don’t get your levels tested, there is no way you will know if you are deficient and the degree of the deficiency.
Testing gives you a window into this important factor of your underlying health, which enables your to take corrective steps to increase your intake of specific micronutrients. Over time, repeat testing is recommended to make sure any deficiencies have been adequately corrected.
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 is the reason Dr. Lawenda does not recommend blindly taking micronutrient supplements (except for a quality multivitamin) unless you first get tested and identify deficiencies to correct.
Dr. Lawenda often recommends the Genova NutrEval 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.
The reports are relatively easy to understand, and they provide recommendations on how to improve any identified deficiencies.
Genova NutrEval Micronutrient Test
This test provides a metabolic analysis assessment with information on 45 key organic acids. By measuring these biomarkers, they provide insight into malabsorption and dysbiosis, cellular energy and mitochondrial metabolism, neurotransmitter metabolism, vitamin deficiencies, and toxin exposure and detoxification needs. There are additional tests that are useful too.
• Amino Acids analysis features either plasma (37 total) or urine (41 total) amino acids. This assesses nutritionally essential and non-essential amino acids, intermediary metabolites that augment an understanding of B vitamin need, and the need for support of protein digestion and absorption.
• Essential and Metabolic Fatty Acids Analysis provides a high level overview of the balance of various families of fatty acids in relation to each other: omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids; saturated fatty acids; and monounsaturated omega 7 and trans fats. It also provides key ratios for understanding cardiovascular risk, including the omega 3 Index.
• Elemental Profiles provide information in two categories: nutrient elements, which evaluates intracellular nutrient status, and toxic elements, which evaluate short-term toxic element exposure.
• Oxidative Stress biomarkers highlight the current state of oxidative stress and reserve capacity. Markers of oxidative injury assess cell membrane (lipid peroxides) and DNA (8-hydroxydeguanosine/8-OHdG) damage, while direct measurement of glutathione and CoQ10 provide insight into antioxidant reserve available to counter free-radical impact.
These results are available in a few weeks.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids
While omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are beneficial, they work best when the ratio between omega 3 and omega 6 is 3 to 1. When this number is reversed, it means that the consumption of omega 6 fatty acids is too high and may cause inflammation.
Fatty acid measures are included in tests provided by Genova Diagnostics.
25-OH Vitamin D
Recent research has shown that vitamin D is important to every cell and tissue throughout the body. As such, this is one of the best-studied micronutrients, especially because it is directly involved with the inflammatory and immune pathways. Adults and children are frequently deficient.
This individual test is also offered through Walk-In-Lab.
What Does Dr. Lawenda 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.
Remember, all of these tests are meant for informational purposes only. It is important to always seek the advice of a trained health professional for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. In almost every case, it is important to consult all members of one’s medical team as different conditions and medications may impact how various micronutrients and/or supplements might affect the body.