While macronutrients in our diet (fat, protein, and carbohydrates) provide our bodies with the energy source that we need for life, micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) are the chemicals that our body requires to unlock and burn that energy. Maintaining adequate levels of these essential micronutrients is critical to our overall wellbeing - including maintaining energy levels, weight management, mood, and so many other vital life functions.
We have partnered with SpectraCell Laboratories in order to bring you the best quality micronutrient testing available on the market - their patented Micronutrient Test (MNT). This tests for the following micronutrients:
Courtesy of SpectraCell Labs
Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Biotin, Folate, Pantothenate
Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc
Asparagine, Glutamine, Serine
Alpha Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10, Cysteine, Glutathione, Selenium, Vitamin E
Fructose Sensitivity, Glucose-Insulin Interaction
Choline, Inositol, Carnitine
Spectrox® for Total Antioxidant Function
Immunidex Immune Response Score
The MNT testing process is unique because it is the only test of its kind that truly evaluates your micronutrient status at a FUNCTIONAL level. Many tests are designed to measure either serum or intracellular levels of these nutrients in your body, but SpectraCell’s process looks at cell function in respect to each micronutrient tested. Click the links below for more information on this testing process and an explanation of the difference between functional and quantitative micronutrient testing,
Courtesy of SpectraCell Labs
What makes the MNT particularly relevant is that it takes biochemical individuality into account when assessing micronutrient status. The MNT is performed using metabolically active cells, measuring DNA synthesis via a patented, chemically-defined culture media that is free of serum and protein (both of which can affect test variability). This unique media allows for the identification of functional intracellular deficiencies that limit mitogenic responses and cell-mediated immune function. Our patented control media contains the minimal amount of each essential micronutrient required to support optimal lymphocyte growth (mitogenic response). We evaluate the functional intracellular status of micronutrients involved in cell metabolism by manipulating each individual micronutrient in the media. This is followed by mitogenic stimulation and DNA synthesis measurement.
The MNT is truly functional in that it takes into consideration cellular absorption, transport, metabolism, and utilization (including numerous other contributing factors) in its nutritional evaluation of cell function, and correlates with both tissue and systemic health.
Standard tests such as static quantitative measurement methods assess the concentration of a nutrient present, but do not address its functional impact. It is possible for levels of a nutrient within cells or in blood to be high, while its functional status is actually deficient. Measuring and reporting micronutrient concentration levels in the absence of a functional assessment offers an incomplete picture and can lead to inaccuracies in identifying and reporting true micronutrient deficiencies.
By the same token, serum (extracellular) nutrients can fluctuate wildly, represent only a snapshot in time, and tell you very little about the functional health of cells. The MNT measures micronutrient status in the context of cellular function over a period of 4-6 months. No other nutritional test compares.
Written by Dr. Fred Crawford, Medical Director of SpectraCell Labs
Courtesy of SpectraCell Labs
The testing for a vitamin, such as vitamin D or vitamin B12, in serum is representative of the quantity of that vitamin that is present in the blood serum. We must remember that these vitamins are present in the blood serum for the sole purpose of delivery to the cells that utilize them. In the blood serum, they do not serve any function as to their biochemical roles in supporting metabolism that is occurring intracellularly. I think many physicians can relate to this difference more clearly when they think of folic acid. We have traditionally measured folate in the blood serum, but it became apparent that an RBC measurement of folate was more representative of folate status than a serum measurement. In looking at the measurement of RBC folate, we are simply isolating the RBC, lysing them and then measuring the amount of folate that is contained within the RBCs. This is recognized as an improved measurement of folate status over the traditional measurement of folate in serum. However, the RBC folate does not provide any insight into the functional utilization of folate within the metabolic processes of the RBC. When one considers the biochemistry of the RBC we know that it has very limited metabolic processes occurring within the cell. Other than functioning to transport oxygen through the blood to the cells, the RBC is not a good source to look at biochemical processes within the body. This example of looking at folate measurements, is a very good model to show the advantage of using the intracellular functional measurement of folate within the lymphocyte, a nearly complete representative of the biochemical pathways occurring in most cells of the body. In addition, the lymphocytes are host to our immune system, and optimizing the performance of the lymphocyte, and promoting an optimization of the immune system, has proven beneficial to our health.
More specifically, when looking at vitamin D and vitamin B12, we are looking at the quantity of these vitamins in the serum (where they have no function) and comparing it to the measurement of a function of intracellular determination - there will be differences in the results. It is very likely that one or the other measurement may show a deficiency not observed in the alternate method. It is quite common to see a high serum measurement, yet the functional intracellular measurement is deficient. We know, through published data, that the lymphocytes do not take up many micronutrients passively. The uptake of these vitamins principally occurs during cell division or proliferation. If the lymphocytic cells are not actively proliferating, the serum measurement is simply a static indicator of the amount of that vitamin that is available for uptake once the lymphocyte responds to proliferative stimulations generated thru various processes in the body - immune system modulation expressed thru cytokine and other regulatory and inflammatory markers.
This is not to say that a serum measurement is not important, but it should be recognized that numerous studies have been published that conclude that serum measurements may not be accurate in determining a metabolic, or functional deficiency, in the cell. For example, one measures serum vitamin B12 in serum. It is a fairly inexpensive test and a marker of serum concentrations. However, we know that the measurement of methylmalonic acid (MMA), a more expensive and complex analysis of metabolic or functional B12, is a more accurate assessment of the body’s B12 status. SpectraCell’s micronutrient vitamin B12 analysis correlates better to MMA than serum measurements of vitamin B12 (unpublished data). Physicians continue to test large numbers of patients using the serum vitamin B12 measurement because it is the test we teach in medical schools and it is inexpensive and easy to perform. Few recognize that it may not be right. As a marker of an environment where cells live, it serves as a good measurement of vitamin B12 status. If it is low, the cells will eventually become deficient in vitamin B12. We can use similar thinking in looking at vitamin D status. If serum is high, cells have an environment from which they can uptake during cell division additional vitamin D that is necessary for intracellular biochemical functions. If serum is low, cells will eventually become deficient in functional intracellular levels of vitamin D. Before one concludes that the serum test is more advantageous than functional intracellular testing, please recall the transient lifetime of these vitamins in the serum. Most water-soluble vitamins have a half-life of less than 4 hours in serum (look at your urine color after taking a B-complex vitamin), so the serum measurement may be highly variable in terms of its concentration following intake of a vitamin. The functional measurement is more like a hemoglobin A1C measurement in determining the long-term blood levels of glucose over time. Functional intracellular measurements look at long term serum concentrations.