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The Importance of Micronutrient Testing by Dr. Ron Grabowski, DC, RD

 

 

Hear Dr. Grabowski’s take on the value of intracellular micronutrient testing, and how micronutrient deficiencies can reflect patterns seen in a variety of diseases.


 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Functional Indicators of Zinc Status Are More Telling Than Plasma Levels

zinc food sources.jpegEighteen healthy adult men participated in a six-week controlled consumption study, in which all food or beverage they consumed was provided for them over the course of the study. For the first two weeks, the men were given food with very low amounts of zinc plus a chemical (phytate) that reduces zinc absorption. Then the amount of zinc in their prepared food was increased by over 60%. Measures of zinc status – both functional and static – were taken at the beginning and end of the trial. After the increase in dietary zinc, plasma levels remained the same. However, functional measures of zinc status increased. Specifically, total absorbed zinc as well as serum levels of protective proteins involved in cellular repair increased. Over a thousand proteins were measured, and those that increased in function were proteins that help repair DNA damage and quell inflammation, many of which are zinc-dependent. Although plasma zinc remained the same, functional indicators of zinc status improved after an increase in zinc consumption. 


 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Serum Level of Folate May Not Tell the Whole Story

depression (1).jpgIn a group of 33 young adults with treatment-resistant depression, plasma, urine and cerebral spinal fluid were measured for several metabolites. These were compared to levels of 16 healthy control subjects. Folate deficiency in cerebral spinal fluid was the most common deficiency seen in patients with pharmacological treatment- resistant depression. It is worth noting that serum levels of folate were normal in these same patients. All patients with cerebral spinal folate deficiency showed improvement in depressive symptoms when treated with folinic acid, suggesting that serum measurement of folic acid may be misleading as it does not reflect a functional deficiency. In fact, when folic acid deficiency was confirmed (in this case via cerebral spinal fluid), an unexpectedly large proportion of patients with potentially treatable depression were identified.

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Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, March 9, 2017

Nutrients and Circadian Rhythms

sunlight.jpegIn case you hadn’t already heard, daylight saving time is almost upon us (effective local time 2:00 a.m. Sunday, March 12th). If you, like many others, notice that your circadian rhythm becomes disrupted during this yearly occurrence, and find that it takes you a few days or even weeks to adjust, you may want to take time now to plan ahead.  

Natural light affects the daily timing of physiological processes, and micronutrients in turn have an effect on our circadian (circa = around, dian = day) rhythms (AKA “body clock” or the sleep/wake cycle) in several ways. In fact, the process of re-adjusting to a new circadian rhythm (“entrainment”) – as in the case of jet lag, shift work, or daylight saving – may be facilitated by vitamin B12, or exacerbated by B12 deficiency. The therapeutic benefits of vitamin B12 have been observed in persons suffering from insomnia, normalizing their sleep-wake cycles. Minerals also play a role: magnesium can impact human circadian rhythms by mimicking the action of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. This might be the explanation behind magnesium’s link to better sleep. Other micronutrients, especially B vitamins such as folate, niacin, and vitamin B6, are cofactors in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and tryptophan, neurotransmitters that have a role in regulating sleep patterns.

 



 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Supplemental Calcium Linked to Dementia in Certain Women

dementia.jpgA study followed 700 Swedish women between the ages of 70 and 92 years, who were all initially free from dementia. After five years, the researchers collected data on which women took calcium supplements (and dosage), as well as which women were clinically diagnosed with dementia. The odds among women who took supplemental calcium of developing dementia were twice that for women who did not take calcium. Further, among the women with a history of stroke, the odds of developing dementia among those who also supplemented calcium were six times the odds compared to women who did not take calcium. Although limited in sample size, the study results suggest that in elderly women, calcium supplementation may be potentially harmful, especially if they have a history of stroke or vascular problems.

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Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Folic Acid’s Link to Neural Tube Defects Gains Attention

pregnant-woman-outside.jpgFolic acid has long been known for drastically reducing the risk of neural tube defects in babies, but new research sheds light on possible consequences of the “if some is good, more is better” approach to supplementation. In a recent study, scientists investigated the effects of moderate folic acid supplementation on reproductive outcomes in mice. 

Female mice were fed either folic acid-supplemented or control diets before and during pregnancy. Researchers found that in female mice with a certain genetic deficiency involved in methylation (called MTHFD1 R653Q), the incidence of embryonic defects and developmental delays actually increased when given supplemental folic acid, compared to mice on a control diet. These findings suggest gene-nutrient interactions (in this case, folic acid with MTHFD1 R653Q), thereby complicating recommendations for supplemental nutrients during pregnancy. Assessing your micronutrient levels before and during pregnancy with a SpectraCell Micronutrient Test is a convenient way to discover and replete micronutrient deficiencies before they become a problem, which can benefit both mother and child.

For additional reading refer to the abstract, Moderate folic acid supplementation and MTHFD1-synthetase deficiency in mice, a model for the R653Q variant, result in embryonic defects and abnormal placental development, published in the November 2016 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.



 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, March 3, 2017

Magnesium Supplementation May Enhance Glucose Metabolism in Diabetics

Mg.jpgIn a meta-analysis of eighteen randomized controlled trials, reviewers assessed the effect of magnesium supplementation versus placebo in patients diagnosed with diabetes or those identified as being at high risk for diabetes. Compared to placebo, magnesium supplementation reduced blood sugar levels in diabetics. Similarly, in people who had not yet developed diabetes but who were at higher risk for it, magnesium supplementation lowered blood sugar levels following a glucose challenge. They also tended to trend toward lower markers for insulin resistance, leading authors to conclude that “magnesium supplementation appears to have a beneficial role” in markers of glucose metabolism.

For additional reading, refer to the abstract, Effect of magnesium supplementation on glucose metabolism in people with or at risk of diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of double-blind randomized controlled trials published in the December 2016 issue of European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

 



 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lipoprotein(a) and L-carnitine

Lipoprotein(a) and L-carnitine

heart-health.gifMost people assume that standard cholesterol testing offers an adequate assessment of heart disease risk. If you, like many, have never heard of a lipoprotein profile test, you may be surprised to learn that this test assesses an important risk factor called Lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a) (“lipoprotein little a”). Influenced by genetics and strongly linked to heart disease and blood clotting problems, this risk factor unfortunately is not part of routine cholesterol tests or standard lipid panels. In fact, lipoprotein(a) is so strongly linked to heart disease, that it is one of the four lipid-related risk factors cited by the National Institutes of Health National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) as worthy of monitoring. Unfortunately, Lp(a) has been notoriously difficult to treat pharmacologically, as statins have shown little efficacy in lowering Lp(a) levels*.

In a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, patients with elevated cholesterol and elevated Lp(a) were divided into two groups, each with 29 people: Group 1 received a statin only and Group 2 received the same statin plus 2 grams/day of L-carnitine, a supplement that plays a key role in fatty acid transport within cells. After 12 weeks, the group receiving only a statin showed about a 7% reduction in Lp(a), but the group receiving the L-carnitine in conjunction with the statin demonstrated over 19% reduction in Lp(a) levels. Authors suggest that co-administration of L-carnitine (whose primary function is fatty acid metabolism), may enhance efforts to lower Lp(a) compared to using a statin alone.

* See our blog post, “Shedding some light on cholesterol,” from January 19, 2017. 

For additional reading refer to the abstract L-Carnitine/Simvastatin Reduces Lipoprotein (a) Levels Compared with Simvastatin Monotherapy: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study published in the January 2017 issue of Lipids

 



 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, February 23, 2017

Exercise: A Fountain Of Youth?

Everyone knows that exercise is good for health: after all, it not only does the obvious (burns calories and builds strength), it furthermore helps balance hormones, lifts mood, and fights depression. Did you know that it also has a role in maintaining memory and cognitive function as we age?  A new study has shed light on yet another interesting way that exercise helps keep one young.  Researchers recently found that physical activity may help preserve telomeres, the strands of DNA at the end of chromosomes that protect genetic material from unraveling (like the plastic tips on the ends of shoelace). Each time a cell divides (a process that happens during cellular growth or repair), telomeres in that cell get a tiny bit shorter as DNA is lost, and shorter telomeres = faster aging. The cell is programmed to die when telomeres get too short. The cumulative effect of this process in cells throughout the body manifests as diseases of aging, and this is the reason for the preponderance of studies connecting telomere length with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases. 

Fortunately, there are ways to protect these cellular “clocks.” Recent research suggests that a sedentary lifestyle is associated with shorter telomeres. In one study, scientists observed 1,481 older women (average age was 79 years old) and correlated telomere length with sedentary time. They found that among generally inactive women, the more sedentary the lifestyle, the shorter the telomeres (meaning they were aging faster). However - despite stretches of time engaged in sedentary activities (working at a desk, for example) - engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity somewhat regularly appears to offer protection against shorter telomeres. In other words, 30 minutes of activity in a day despite inactivity most of the rest of the day (as in working at a computer or watching TV) did not contribute to cellular aging.  From a cellular standpoint, it truly does appear that a little exercise goes a long way.

Interested in knowing your true biological age? Find out with our Telomere Test
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Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What Is Nutrigenomics?

nutrigenomics.jpgRecent years have seen the entry of unfamiliar words into the mainstream, no doubt promulgated by widespread use of the Internet and social media. The health and wellness sphere is no exception; new buzz words seemingly enter the healthcare lexicon constantly, and you may already have noticed given the prevalence of words ending in the suffix, “-omics”: genomics, nutrigenomics, metabolomics, to name a few. Countless news articles including these words and their concepts appear to be published with great frequency – on a nearly daily basis, or so it seems. 

The suffix “-ology” refers to the study of a general subject (e.g. biology = study of life, psychology = study of the mind, theology = study of God), while “-omics” is more specific in that it refers to a field of study within molecular biology. In the same way that words like “selfie” and “social media” were not in our vocabulary even a decade ago,  the terms below are relatively new but will likely become household words in the future. 

In an age of personalized medicine, these are some basic “-omics” with which to become familiar:

  1. Genomics: a field of study in biology that focuses on genes, typically in humans. The entire set of genes that humans carry is referred to as the human genome, and the study of the human genome is called genomics.  This is slightly different from the study of specific genes, which we know as genetics. Simply stated, genomics refers to the study of all genes while genetics refers to the study of specific genes.
  1. Nutrigenomics: the study of nutrient impact (from either food or supplements) on gene expression. Scientists have confirmed that nutrition can affect genetic expression profoundly. The interaction of nutrients (or lack of nutrients) and genes and how they are expressed is currently a trending research focus.
  1. Metabolomics: a field of study in molecular biology that focuses on metabolites (the products of cellular metabolism). Like a genome, a metabolome is the entire set of metabolites that occurs in an organism. The study of the entire system of metabolic processes is called metabolomics. 
  1. Microbiomics: the study of the microbiome, which refers to bacteria (and their genes) present in the human body, especially in the gastrointestinal tract.
  1. Pharmacogenomics: this refers to the study of identifying how a person’s genetic makeup affects their response to pharmaceutical drugs, including how they metabolize or absorb certain medications.
  1. Lipidomics: the study of lipids (fats) within biological systems, such as how fats convert into healthy or unhealthy fats, and how certain lipids influence obesity, inflammation, or heart disease.
  1. Proteomics: the study of all the proteins relevant to a biological system. 

Advances in molecular biology are constantly shedding new light on the way the human body functions at the cellular level. As innovation continues, you can expect the terms above will become more commonplace, and related terms more numerous: the –omics are here to stay!


 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How Do Amino Acids Affect Fat Metabolism?

weight-loss.jpgWhen it comes to nutrients and bioactive substances, most people are familiar with vitamins and minerals, but less knowledgeable about amino acids. These biologically important compounds, much like vitamins and minerals, can impact fat metabolism and weight loss in profound ways.  These are some examples of amino acids with roles in weight management:

  1. Asparagine: First isolated and so named due to its presence in asparagus, this amino acid increases insulin sensitivity, which helps the body store energy in muscle instead of storing it as body fat. Asparagine supplementation has been shown in studies to reduce fatigue after intense exercise.
  1. Carnitine: A combination of the individual amino acids lysine and methionine, carnitine is a compound whose primary role is to transport fatty acids into a cell so that they can be burned for fuel.  Carnitine can help reduce visceral adiposity (fat around the midsection) by increasing the availability of fatty acids for energy.
  1. Glutamine: This amino acid improves glucose uptake by muscle, which can ultimately reduce fat mass.
  1. Cysteine: Supplementation with this sulfur-containing amino acid has been shown to reduce fat in obese patients.  It also has powerful antioxidant properties, which helps keep oxidative stress (linked to obesity) at bay.

Despite their lower profile, amino acids can have an equally powerful effect on overall health as vitamins and minerals.  SpectraCell’s Micronutrient Test measures these and many other micronutrients. Detecting and addressing deficiencies are critical steps in enhancing metabolism, promoting health, and looking and feeling your best – be sure to get tested today!

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Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, February 10, 2017

Minerals and Metabolism – What Is the Association?

woman running1.jpgMinerals are substances required within cells to catalyze metabolic reactions. These chemical reactions largely determine the ability of the body to carry out metabolism and ultimately, health status. When it comes to weight management, mineral deficiencies can compromise metabolism. Below are some examples, among many, of familiar minerals with a role in this process:

  1. Zinc: A zinc deficiency can reduce the hormone leptin (this hormone regulates appetite and promotes satiety), therefore signaling you to stop eating for the short-term following a meal. Leptin is released in a dose-dependent manner in response to insulin. Any alteration in the efficiency of either hormone (insulin or leptin) can potentially affect the other.
  1. Calcium: This bones health mineral inhibits the formation of fat cells and burns fat cells by oxidizing fatty acids for energy.
  1. Chromium: This mineral makes cells more sensitive to insulin, thus helping reduce body fat and increase lean muscle.
  1. Magnesium: Low magnesium in cells impairs a person’s ability to use glucose for fuel, instead storing it as fat.  Correcting a magnesium deficiency stimulates metabolism by increasing insulin sensitivity, and may also inhibit fat absorption.
  1. Copper: A copper deficiency can lead to the inability to metabolize fructose efficiently, which can lead to decreased energy levels and high blood triglycerides. Copper also has a role fatty acid metabolism; repletion can help optimize metabolism.
  1. Selenium: In some, a selenium deficiency can reduce thyroid hormone levels since it is a cofactor for the conversion of precursor thyroid hormone (T4) to active thyroid hormone (T3). Reduced thyroid function resulting from selenium deficiency will lower metabolism throughout the body.
  1. Manganese: This mineral is a cofactor to the powerful antioxidant, superoxide dismutase, which works to quell inflammation, one of the key contributors to obesity and weight gain.

Since they work synergistically, mineral balance is key. The “if-some-is-good, more-is-better” approach can be dangerous when it comes to micronutrients because too much of one can induce a deficiency in another. This is why a comprehensive analysis of micronutrient status is essential. SpectraCell’s Micronutrient Test measures not only these minerals, but several other micronutrients including vitamins, antioxidants, amino and fatty acids, and metabolites. 

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Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, February 9, 2017

Can Excess Weight Influence Gene Expression?

DNA Strand 2.jpgNew research suggests that the answer to this question is YES.  As you might have noticed, a lot of information regarding the impact of environment on genes has been published recently. Take cancer, for example. One may be genetically predisposed to a certain cancer that runs in one’s family.  However, simply possessing this gene does not determine one’s health outcomes or health destiny. It has become clear that in many cases, we can profoundly compensate for the genetic hand that we been dealt by controlling our environment.  Smoking is a clear example: it is common knowledge that abstaining from cigarette smoking dramatically reduces one’s risk for lung cancer. This is a widely understood and powerful example of epigenetics, a concept referring to the idea that environment influences genetic expression. This represents a departure from the traditional view of genetics. Scientists now know that it’s not simply a matter of whether one carries a gene for a disease (cancer, heart disease, dementia, etc), but whether one expresses that gene. And whether we express that gene has much to do with our lifestyle choices (environment) – these lifestyle factors may influence genes in a way that disease does not manifest.  Another way of saying this is that we are not entirely at the mercy of our genes.

So, what does this have to do with overweight? A recent study demonstrated that high BMI (body mass index) due to excess fat can modify a person’s DNA in several places on the DNA strand. These changes resulted from an alteration in methylation patterns (methylation is a process where methyl groups are added at specific sites in DNA molecules and is influenced by the cellular environment). Inflammation and micronutrient availability within cells are examples of these alterations that affect methylation patterns. This study confirms that cellular environment – specifically, excess fat tissue – affects genetic expression. Carrying excess weight can therefore impact genetic expression.  

For more details, download the abstract entitled, Epigenome-wide association study of body mass index, and the adverse outcomes of adiposity, published in the January 2017 issue of Nature.  (Abstract 2581)


 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, February 3, 2017

Can High Dose Vitamin E Reduce Kidney Inflammation?

kidney_inflammation.jpgA recently published study in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology suggests a possible relationship. In this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial (the gold standard for medical publications), sixty diabetics with confirmed kidney disease were divided into two groups:  one group (n=30) took 1200 IU/d of vitamin E, while the other group (n=30) took placebo. After 12 weeks, the group taking vitamin E showed a significant reduction in several biomarkers of kidney  inflammation; although glucose levels and insulin resistance (biomarkers for blood sugar control and indicators of developing diabetes) showed no improvement, there was a significant decrease in insulin concentration (a positive biological effect).

For more details, download our abstract entitled The effects of high-dose vitamin E supplementation on biomarkers of kidney injury, inflammation, and oxidative stress in patients with diabetic nephropathy: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

 


 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Monday, January 30, 2017

Folic Acid Deficiency Exacerbates Damage From Stroke

stroke.jpgPrevious studies have linked low folic acid with an increased risk of ischemic stroke (stroke caused by oxygen deprivation) but new research sheds light on how damage occurs. In this animal study, scientists demonstrated that after a stroke, brain tissue is damaged both from lack of oxygen and through the prolonged activation of autophagy, a process whose function is to degrade dysfunctional parts of a cell. When folic acid is deficient, autophagy is accelerated to the point where nerve cells die, thus exacerbating damage to the brain after an initial stroke.

For more details, download the abstract entitled Folic acid deficiency increases brain cell injury via autophagy enhancement after focal cerebral ischemia.



 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Tuesday, January 24, 2017

NUTRIENT OF THE MONTH - Lipoic Acid

broccoli.jpgWhen it comes to micronutrient name recognition, vitamins and minerals typically get the spotlight (think vitamin C, vitamin D, Magnesium). Less well known are antioxidants, the superstars when it comes to protection from oxidative stress and free radicals. Lipoic acid (AKA thioctic acid) is one such nutrient. This particular substance is unique in that it has antioxidant properties in both water and lipids (most antioxidants protect only one, but not the other). Its unique chemical structure makes it soluble in both, which is a physiologically important attribute. Fat-soluble nutrients protect cell membranes (which are made of fats), and water-soluble nutrients protect intracellular fluid. 

Another biologically important feature is its ability to regenerate (and therefore activate) other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, cysteine and coenzyme Q10 when they have been “used up.” It can bind to insulin receptors, and consequently enhances glucose uptake into muscles, making it useful in improving glucose tolerance in persons with Type 2 Diabetes. Lipoic Acid can also be effective in the treatment of certain diabetic complications such as peripheral neuropathy. Given its ability to protect against damage to fat-soluble cell structures (lipid peroxidation), it’s not surprising that this antioxidant may also help protect against the neuron injury often seen in Alzheimer’s patients. This powerful micronutrient’s impressive list of roles at the cellular level provides clear justification for its designation as a “supernutrient,” making it an effective therapy in a variety of conditions from cataracts to erectile dysfunction.

Interested in knowing how your antioxidant levels stack up? Get tested today!

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Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, January 20, 2017

Shedding Some Light on Cholesterol

improve-heart-health-naturally_cropped.jpgDid you know that everything you’ve learned about cholesterol and its association with heart attacks is only partly correct? Consider this startling statistic: 50% of people who have suffered a heart attack, have "normal" cholesterol. Another way of saying this is that among heart attack victims, standard cholesterol testing would have detected “normal” ranges in half of this population had it been performed on the day of their event. This begs the question: why do so many practitioners use a diagnostic test that only identifies 50% of those at risk? The reason is simple: it is the test with which they are familiar and has been in use for decades. But did you know that HDL and LDL (the “good” and “bad” cholesterol), are only some of the pieces of the puzzle? Knowing your HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol is only the beginning; SpectraCell’s LPP (Lipoprotein Particle Profile) test identifies these and other components, shedding light on a spectrum of factors that provide detailed information about one’s cardiovascular health.

Here is one way to look at heart disease: when blood vessels are injured or inflamed, lipoproteins containing cholesterol and other lipids penetrate the arterial lining and build plaque. This is akin to a scab on the inside of a blood vessel, causing a reduction in blood flow. Since plaque buildup is the physiological response to injured and inflamed vessels, reducing these factors is critical.

This is where cholesterol comes in. Plaque is actually a response to vascular injury - not the cause of it. Cholesterol, a component of plaque, is rarely the culprit, but lipoproteins are. Lipoproteins are particles that penetrate the arterial lining and build plaque as a result of the injury. These tiny particles carry cholesterol (the vascular scapegoat) through the bloodstream, and cause damage (cholesterol is really just one component of lipoproteins). In other words, lipoproteins are often the real villain (some are extraordinarily dangerous, others are completely benign).

Lipoproteins are classified by size. In general, the bigger, the better, and here’s why: larger, fluffier low density lipoprotein (LDL) particles cannot penetrate the arterial lining as easily as smaller LDL particles can. Less injury to the artery over time results in less plaque formation along with clearer, more pliable blood vessels (this is a good thing). Remnant lipoproteins (RLPs) are cited as having a very strong relationship with heart disease. Statins, which are often prescribed to lower LDLs, will do little to lower RLPs – these are best lowered by high-dose omega-3 fatty acids. Understanding one’s own lipoprotein profile (number and type of LDLs) floating in the bloodstream, is key to promoting improved vascular health outcomes through lifestyle change.

Without any objective information regarding one’s lipoprotein profile, many people are simply shooting in the dark in terms of treatment for these types of cardiovascular issues. The message is clear: simply measuring cholesterol without taking into account lipoprotein particle numbers and density is certainly not enough, as suggested by the 50% statistic cited above. Talk to your health care provider about pursuing a lipoprotein profile test to get a comprehensive assessment of your cardiac risk factors. We saved the best part for last: SpectraCell's LPP test costs about the same as an outdated cholesterol test, and is often covered by insurance!

 


 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, January 19, 2017

Metabolically Speaking, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Is Like Hibernation

fatigue.jpgChronic fatigue syndrome (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis) is notoriously difficult to diagnose since it manifests with esoteric symptoms that often overlap with other disorders such as fibromyalgia, depression, and hormone imbalances. However, new research from the University of California sheds light on the metabolic abnormalities seen in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), regardless of cause. Although several factors can trigger its onset (viral infection, illness, traumatic injury, severe emotional stress or something else), the “chemical signature” among patients with CFS is strikingly similar. 

The UC study confirms that CFS is a hypometabolic state, similar in some ways to a type of hibernation. Specifically, most CFS patients have lower amounts of a type of fat (“sphingolipids”). This substance physically protects cells, and appears to be an adaptive response that may oppose viral or bacterial infection within a cell. By entering into a hypometabolic state, cells permit survival under conditions of environmental stress, but at a price: severely curtailed function and quality of life. The research seems to suggest that science may be closer to developing a lab test that removes diagnostic uncertainty about this common disorder.

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, January 13, 2017

Micronutrients: The Key to Effective Weight Loss

weight-management-ebook.jpgWe’ve all heard the proverbial advice for achieving a healthy body and maintaining our weight: exercise and “eat right.”  But for those who really want to delve further into the science behind an enviable metabolism, we offer a list of vitamins with an explanation of their role in the body’s ability to burn fat and build muscle.

  1. Vitamin A: This vitamin is particularly good at regulating how genes are expressed. Although genes do determine to an extent how the body stores or burns fat, our genes are, simply stated, not our destiny. Two persons with the same gene may express it very differently, depending on their individual cellular environment. This is where vitamin A enters the picture. It can actually enhance the expression of certain genes that lower a person’s tendency to store food as fat. If one is vitamin A deficient, s/he may be pre-disposed to storing fat tissue. On the other hand, correcting a vitamin A deficiency may have a different, more positive effect, as studies have indicated that vitamin A may reduce the size of fat cells.
  1. Vitamin D: Similar to vitamin A, vitamin D (commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”) affects genetic expression, including the way that fat cells develop. A vitamin D deficiency is strongly linked to poor carbohydrate metabolism: instead of efficiently burning carbohydrate for fuel (which consequently helps impart energy and mental focus), the body instead stores carbohydrate as fat. Correcting a vitamin D deficiency can boost metabolism by reversing this deleterious effect.  
  1. Vitamin E: This micronutrient affects metabolism by inhibiting immature fat cells from developing into mature fat cells, which are more “stubborn,” metabolically speaking. The cumulative effect of this is a reduction in fat storage.
  1. Vitamin B3Also called niacin, vitamin B3 can increase the hormone adiponectin, which is secreted by fat cells. Adiponectin’s main function is to signal cells to burn fuel. It also has a role in helping muscles use glucose for energy rather than storing it as fat.
  1. Vitamin B5: Some evidence suggests that vitamin B5 (AKA pantothenate or pantothenic acid) might be helpful for weight loss because it has been associated with less hunger when dieting. At the cellular level, vitamin B5 activates the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which breaks down fat cells.

This list is by no means exhaustive: in fact, there are multiple micronutrient influences on weight loss. These micronutrients work both individually and synergistically, and repletion often promotes clinical benefits throughout the body. It should come as no surprise that micronutrient adequacy also supports heart health and energy levels. Therefore, discovering (then correcting) micronutrient deficiencies becomes a critical first step in improving overall health. 

 Tired of not getting the results you want? Interested in learning how you can improve the efficacy of your weight management routine? Get tested and find out how your micronutrient status stacks up!

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Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why Is Alzheimer's Disease Sometimes Referred to as Type 3 Diabetes?


alzheimers.jpgDid you know that these two chronic diseases are similar? Both conditions are characterized by a loss of insulin sensitivity at the cellular level. This means that cells (regardless of whether they are muscle, liver, fat, nerve, or brain cells) are no longer responsive to the hormone insulin (they have become insulin resistant). In other words, these cells have become unable to use glucose effectively as a source of metabolic fuel. As a result, glucose remains in the bloodstream because the insulin needed to carry it into a cell does not work anymore. When glucose remains in the blood (“high blood sugar”), it combines with proteins that are also in the blood, and will eventually form plaques. In blood vessels, these “plaques” cause heart disease. In the brain, these “plaques” lead to loss of cognition and brain function, both of which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s Disease - leading experts to label it Type 3 Diabetes. 

Interested in learning more about Alzheimer's Disease? Register for our upcoming webinar on Targeting Alzhimer's Disease via Lifstyle Modications.

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Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, January 6, 2017

Three Important (but Overlooked) Strategies for Weight Loss in the New Year

apple-tape-salad_1000.jpgEvery January, many of us are inspired by the prospect of a healthier self to begin important lifestyle and behavior changes. In the United States, losing weight is among the most common of New Year’s resolutions. Here, we outline some tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index). We won’t go on to describe the mechanics of doing a proper push-up, or offer healthy recipes, but we will offer you practical information to help you achieve more optimal health, of which fitness/ body composition is a byproduct.

Lean body mass and weight loss are very dependent on the following:

    1. Eliminating/ reducing inflammation. Most people associate inflammation with redness and pain after an injury or illness.  This is how acute inflammation manifests itself, and it is easy to see and feel.  But subacute, or “chronic” inflammation is the type of inflammation that manifests as heart disease, cancer, fatigue, and – you guessed it – extra pounds. Chronic inflammation is not something we directly feel, hence the phrase, “silent killer.”

      It is true that eating fresh fruits and vegetables in copious amounts can help quell inflammation, but the key is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. One strategy is to eliminate sugar, as it is extremely inflammatory: eating sugar increases inflammation. This is a simple enough concept, but did you know that fat cells, too, are inflammatory? Contrary to popular belief, adipose tissue (AKA “fat”) is not an inert substance in the body: it is, in fact, a living organ that secretes inflammatory hormones. This in turn exacerbates metabolic dysfunction. Therefore, weight loss generally helps reduce inflammation. And when you reduce inflammation, it helps you lose weight. 

    2. Maintaining stable blood sugar. Many people believe that hunger is mostly caused by an empty stomach when the reality is that hunger is a response to blood glucose levels. This is why it is possible to eat hundreds, even thousands of calories (such as candy bars and other sweets), then feel hungry relatively soon after. This is also the reason why it is possible to go long periods of time without eating (despite an empty stomach, there is a lack of hunger). The bottom line? It’s all about blood sugar control. 

      When starting a new weight loss program, one of the many obstacles that eventually trips people up is wild blood sugar fluctuations, which leads to unrelenting cravings and mood swings. The goal, then, is to optimize blood sugar stability/ prevent insulin resistance. Doing so helps drive a metabolic shift that facilitates weight loss and weight management. Blood sugar control can be easily assessed via pre-diabetes biomarkers including fasting glucose, HbA1C, and insulin.

    3. Optimizing gut health. This means establishing and colonizing the gastrointestinal tract with diverse beneficial bacteria (AKA a healthy microbiome). Healthy gut flora not only help protect against pathogens, they also help synthesize vitamins and impact neurotransmitter levels, ultimately affecting not only one’s immune system function, but how one looks and feels.  

      A healthy gut ecology is supported through the consumption of prebiotic and probiotic foods. Fermented foods, such as vegetables and dairy, are such examples. On the other hand, sugar and refined carbohydrates promote the growth of pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria, which often cause weight gain.

The good news is that these three pillars of health work synergistically: reducing inflammation helps promote healthy gut bacteria; optimizing blood sugar results in a smaller inflammatory burden; and a healthy gut helps drive blood sugar stabilization with greater efficiency. All work together; fortunately, you can quantify more than just what you see on the scale.

Did you know that many biomarkers are available to measure inflammation, blood sugar control, and gut health?  Contact SpectraCell Laboratories to find out more!

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Little Known Nutrient That May Be Helpful for PTSD Victims


depressed man.jpgSerine, an amino acid, is a micronutrient with which many people are unfamiliar. This may be a reason why its role in mental health remains largely underappreciated. Serine’s major role is in the production of neurotransmitters. Specifically, it increases the “feel-good” hormones dopamine and serotonin, but it does so without the corresponding hyperactivity or compulsive behavior that often occurs with drug therapies that stimulate a single neurotransmitter. It also buffers the adrenal response to physical, mental and emotional stress. In doing so, it protects the body and mind against cellular damage from chronically high cortisol. Serine deficiency has been linked to the severity of depression; in one study, the administration of serine reduced combat-related anxiety in a clinical trial on 22 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients. 

 Click here to download our nutrient correlations wheel on Depression. 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Why This Mineral (or Lack of It) May Be The Key to Thyroid Problems

thyroid.jpgThe thyroid gland, located in the neck, produces a variety of thyroid hormones. These regulate virtually every aspect of metabolism: body temperature, mood, sex hormones, energy levels, and even impact one’s appearance, from hair and nails to skin and waistline.  Less understood about thyroid hormones is that there are two basic types – T3 and T4 (so named for the number of iodine molecules each has) –  and they serve different biological functions.  T4, which is made in the thyroid gland, serves as the precursor hormone to T3. It is entirely possible, even common, for the thyroid gland to produce plenty of thyroid hormone in the form of T4, but not be converted into T3. Because T3 is the more biologically potent thyroid hormone and acts directly on bodily tissues, one may exhibit signs of hypothyroidism (fatigue, weight gain, feeling cold, thinning hair, mood swings, etc) even when T4 is in the normal range. 

It is worth noting that the conversion of precursor thyroid hormone T4 into active thyroid hormone T3 occurs outside the thyroid gland, mostly in the liver and kidneys. This conversion into active thyroid hormone occurs through the action of enzymes that are dependent on the mineral selenium (these enzymes are called deiodinases because they remove aniodine in T4 to convert it to T3).  Therefore, a selenium deficiency can cause a person to be low in active thyroid hormone, even if their thyroid gland is producing plenty of precursor thyroid hormone.  To complicate things, TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is often found to be “normal” despite poor thyroid conversion. In essence, a reliance on simple thyroid tests may suggest a person is not hypothyroid when in fact they are hypothyroid due to a selenium deficiency.  Both low zinc and antioxidant status can also impair the conversion of T4 (precursor) to T3 (active) hormone.  The most concentrated dietary source of selenium is the Brazil nut, because the soil where Brazil nuts are grown is particularly rich in selenium.

Find out whether you have a selenium deficiency today!

Get Tested

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Good and Bad News About Chromium and Blood Sugar

broccoli.jpgChromium is a trace metal that plays a role in metabolizing carbohydrates.  It is the central molecule of glucose tolerance factor (GTF), a compound that helps insulin attach to a cell’s receptors. This allows glucose to be taken up by a cell and used for fuel, rather than continue circulating in the bloodstream and eventually wreaking havoc on blood vessels and organs. 

When chromium is deficient in the body, glucose cannot be metabolized properly. This sets the stage for insulin resistance. The good news is that when a chromium deficiency is corrected, blood sugar regulation improves. Unfortunately, supplemental chromium, such as chromium picolinate, may not be absorbed efficiently. Chromium competes for the binding site of a protein that transports iron, which may also inhibit absorption. The solution? Increase your dietary intake of chromium-containing foods. Among the best sources of this mineral are broccoli, barley, oats, and green beans. You’ll want to limit your intake of foods high in simple sugars, on the other hand, as these actually increase the rate of excretion, thus promoting chromium deficiency.

Find out whether you are chromium deficient today by asking about our Micronutrient Test


 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, December 1, 2016

Why is high blood sugar so bad?

sugar.jpgDid you know that November is National Diabetes Month? This is extremely appropriate after Halloween and the sugar binging that usually accompanies it. While feasting on leftover candy, you might want to keep the following information in mind. After ingestion, sugar is not simply “burned off.” Even if you are fit and lean, sugar is harmful because it accelerates cellular aging. Sugar in the bloodstream attaches to proteins, creating something called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These end products render those proteins inactive, and are commonly used as a marker for aging. In fact, one of the hallmark diagnostic tests for chronically elevated blood sugar/ diabetes is HbA1C, which is an AGE of a hemoglobin molecule. Sugar profoundly alters hormone balance, especially over time, which can set off a cascade of metabolic dysfunction that further accelerates aging systemically, from the arteries to the liver and skin. The dangers of sugar extend beyond a few extra pounds – this ubiquitous substance (found in everything from salad dressings to condiments to your favorite desserts) – actually ages the body from the inside out. 

 

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Monday, November 7, 2016

Why is vitamin B5 called the anti-stress vitamin?


stress.jpgAlso known as pantothenate or pantothenic acid, vitamin B5 is sometimes referred to as the “anti-stress” vitamin because it can reverse some biological damage caused by stress. Physical, emotional, and psychological stresses trigger the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol (a long-term stress hormone) and adrenaline (a short-term stress hormone). Chronic stress drives the production of too much of any of these hormones, which causes damage in the body long after the stress signal has ended. When vitamin B5 is present in adequate amounts, it is able to down-regulate the secretion of cortisol, and the body is able to recover. However, in a deficiency state, the adrenal glands are unable to cope. Under these circumstances, they cannot launch a healthy response against the multiple daily stressors that assail us, and the chronic (often unavoidable) stress eventually takes a physiological toll.

Find out what whether you're vitamin B5 deficient today with our Micronutrient test!

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Breast Cancer Prevention or Earlier Diagnosis –Which is Better?


breast_cancer_ribbon.pngThe short answer is - both. Ask most women, and many will tell you that a mammogram is the most powerful tool when it comes to breast cancer prevention. Unfortunately, getting a mammogram is not truly preventive, although it is a very powerful tool for early diagnosis. In other words: mammograms do not prevent breast cancer from developing, even though these procedures facilitate early diagnosis that in turn allows providers to target the cancer in its earlier, more treatable stage. Prevention is dependent on healthy breast tissue, and to be healthy, the body’s detoxification pathways, which are dependent on several micronutrients, must perform optimally. Micronutrient deficiencies compromise this process, leaving the potential for rogue cells to flourish and become tumors. This is also true for other hormone-sensitive tissues (cervical, uterine, and ovarian). Prevention begins by providing the body with the necessary materials (micronutrients) in appropriate amounts to detoxify and repair cellular damage, daily. 

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, October 13, 2016

CoQ10

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Why you should know about CoQ10 if you are taking a statin.

Most Americans have heard of statins, a group of drugs commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol levels.  But many people are not familiar with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), the micronutrient that is known to be depleted by most people who take statins. In fact, the original patent for statins (AKA “HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors”) acknowledged this as early as 1990; however, this is still not widely known today. CoQ10 (AKA ubiquinone because it is so ubiquitous in the body) is a substance that creates energy, the most fundamental of all cell functions. Tissues with a high energy requirement – heart, liver and muscles – require CoQ10 to work.  If these cells don’t have sufficient CoQ10, a person may eventually experience fatigue, muscular pains, or both. 

Do you know your CoQ10 status? Get your SpectraCell Micronutrient Test today!

GET TESTED 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What is Triage Theory, and why is it important to our health?

cells2.jpgTriage Theory states that the body uses whatever nutrients are available to ensure that the most basic and pressing metabolic functions are fueled first; if a needed nutrient is not available, the body compromises long-term health to ensure short-term critical function. This is analogous to a triage situation in any emergency room: prioritizing a patient’s needs based on the severity of his or her situation/ condition. In the same way, our bodies naturally “triage” on a daily basis. Cells will sacrifice nutrients from non-survival functions for immediate physiological needs. For example, nutrients will be diverted from tissue repair to meet a more critical need such as fighting off an infection or secreting cortisol to deal with an imminent stressor. When an adequate supply of necessary nutrients is available to all cells, short-term and long-term health is preserved.  However, when not enough of these nutrients are available  – and this is often the case given the prevalence of a nutrient-poor diet, stress, and other lifestyle habits that impact nutrient intake and absorption - the stage for the development of chronic disease is set, negatively impacting long-term health.

  • LINK TO ABSTRACT Plasma folate, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 and breast cancer risk in BRCA1- and BRCA2-mutation carriers: a prospective study.

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, September 30, 2016

Estrogen Metabolism and its Clinical Applications


SpectraCell's Educational webinar series hosted every month addresses how various diagnostic tools can aide in improving patient outcomes. To view our complete webinar library, please be sure to visit by clicking here.

One of our most recent webinar presentations is highlighted below.  The presentation gives the viewer a detailed look into understanding methylation processes and key components that may or may not affect estrogen metabolism presented by Dr. Karan Y. Baucom an expert in the field.

Estrogen Metabolism and its Clinical Applications

Presented by Karan Y. Baucom, MD

  • Overview of the methylation process and its effects on clinical conditions
  • Understand key components of the biochemical pathways affecting methylation and estrogen metabolism
  • The role of nutrition in the methylation process and estrogen metabolism
  • Case Study Review

Click on the image below to view SpectraCell's webinar on "Estrogen Metabolism and its Clinical Applications."



Estrogen_Metabolism__its_Clinical_Applications_Dr._Karan_Baucom_Page_01

 

 

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Don't Forget!

SpectraCell is at the forefront of providing a variety of resources to further expand our followers' knowledge in the area of integrative health. To learn more about the tests SpectraCell offers, please visit www.spectracell.com and to register for future webinars please check www.spectracell.com/webinars.



 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, June 12, 2015

Study suggests testosterone therapy in men not harmful to prostate...

 

Recent finding suggests testosterone therapy in men not harmful to prostatetestosterone


In a recently published study, 1023 hypogonadal men who received testosterone therapy were monitored for an average of 5 years for prostate cancer. The authors concluded that “testosterone therapy in hypogonadal men does not increase the risk of prostate cancer” although the authors did explicitly note that there was not control group in this study of men not taking testosterone.

Similar conclusions were reported in a different review of a testosterone replacement therapy in men, although the effect of testosterone on cardiovascular disease and events was much less clear. Whether or not to treat men with testosterone remains equivocal, as highlighted in the clinical decisions case study listed below.
(Journal of Urology, January 2015)
(Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, October 2014)
(New England Journal of Medicine, November 2014)

LINK to ABSTRACT Incidence of prostate cancer in hypogonadal men receiving testosterone therapy: observations from 5-year median followup of 3 registries.
LINK to ABSTRACT
Adverse effects of testosterone replacement therapy: an update on the evidence and controversy. LINK to FREE FULL TEXT
LINK to CASE STUDY 
Clinical decisions. Testosterone-replacement therapy.

For more information or to get tested, please visit www.spectracell.com

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, March 6, 2015

SPECTRACELL ANNOUNCES NEW PRODUCT ENHANCEMENTS

SpectraCell is expanding their hormone and thyroid test menu. hormones

Like nutrients, hormones influence all aspects of health and disease - mood, sleep, metabolism, immunity, heart health and appearance.  An imbalance of one hormone can initiate a cascade of events that alters other hormones, so a comprehensive look at hormone status is key. Thyroid hormones directly regulate every cell in our body as most basic functions like metabolism, emotions and thinking. The below components have been added to our already established hormone and thyroid test.

Estrone sulfate (E1) – Included in our male and female hormone profiles

This estrogen has very strong tissue proliferative effects and may be linked to estrogen dominant conditions like fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis and uterine fibroids. It will create either dangerous or beneficial metabolites, depending on a person's nutritional status.

Estriol, unconjugated (E3) – Included in our female hormone profile

Estriol is a weak estrogen that is very high during pregnancy, but also plays an important role in non-pregnant women by opposing the growth of cancer cells promoted by the stronger estrogens E1 and E2.  Estriol is also known to alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes or urinary incontinence.

Reverse Triiodothyronine (Reverse T3) – Must be ordered individually

As the name implies, Reverse T3 opposes the biological action of T3.  It slows metabolism and renders T3 in the body biologically inactive. The rate of rT3 production relative to T3 will increase in times of stress (high cortisol) and in the presence of nutrient deficiencies, inflammation or certain medications.

To learn more about how to get tested, please visit our GET TESTED page HERE.

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Monday, February 16, 2015

The Endocrine Disorder in America NO ONE is Talking About

thyroid resized 600There are currently about 25 million Americans diagnosed with some sort of thyroid disorder.  Thyroid disorders tend to be more prominent in women and the probability of a thyroid disorder occurring is four times more likely in women than in men. 

 

What exactly is the thyroid?

  • A butterfly shaped gland in the neck
  • Makes T3 , T4 and calcitonin (calcium regulating hormone)

Symptoms of a Thyroid disorder

  • Weight gain, even though you are not eating more food.
  • Increased sensitivity to cold.
  • Constipation.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Joint or muscle pain.
  • Depression.
  • Fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • Pale dry skin.

Watch SpectraCell's webinar on
Integrative Diagnostics for Managing the Thyroid HERE                                                  

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Role of Nutrition in Hormonal Health

Hormone Balance Logo resized 600Micronutrients profoundly affect hormonal health.  It is difficult to achieve hormonal balance if micronutrient status is inadequate, and like nutrients, hormones affect cellular metabolism, energy production, detoxification efficiency and mental health so balance is Key. 

Like nutrients, hormones influence all aspects of health and disease - mood, sleep, metabolism, immunity, heart health and appearance.  An imbalance of one hormone can initiate a cascade of events that alters other hormones.  
  • Fatigue & Energy Levels
  • Cardiovascular health (Blood pressure, clotting, lipids)
  • Neurology (migraines, sleep, pain)
  • Mental Health (depression, anxiety, cognitive function)
  • Immunity (infections, autoimmune disease)
  • Metabolism (blood sugar regulation, tissue repair)
  • Bone density (Osteoporosis)
  • Physical appearance (skin, muscles, hair)
SpectraCell Laboratories offers comprehensive male and female hormone panels that reveal the overall state of hormonal balance in a patient.

A comprehensive look at your hormone status is key.

GET TESTED!

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, January 9, 2015

SpectraCell Launches NEW Products!

spectracell, hormones, micronutrient, genetics, cardioAt SpectraCell Laboratories we are always looking for ways to look at the overall health of a patient and in turn providing you with the tools necessary to provide a customized treatment plan where the focus is "Balance is Key" to healthy living.

SpectraCell Laboratories, the leader in functional nutritional testing is proud to announce the launch of our new comprehensive hormone testing and CardioMetabolic with a Pre-diabetes panel to its menu. Below you will find a brief description of each of the tests we are now offering to our clients.     

CARDIOMETABOLIC TESTING 

SpectraCell Laboratories, primarily known for its functional nutritional testing, now offers a complete Cardiometabolic Panel to measure risk of heart disease and diabetes.   The new panel, which includes SpectraCell’s advanced Lipoprotein Particle Profile™,   reports several clinically relevant biomarkers in three areas:  (1) Glycemic control  (2) Lipid Metabolism and (3) Vascular Inflammation.  Each patient is given a pre-diabetic risk score ranging from 1 to 8 depending on their results. As a clinician, you can monitor both their specific biomarkers as well as their composite risk and treat accordingly.  Assessing cardiometabolic function is the first step in treating it. 

HORMONE TESTING

Complete male and female panels are now available.  Both end-point steroid hormones as well as precursor hormones are included so the precise place of imbalance in the complicated hormonal cascade can be pinpointed.  Several peptide hormones are also included as well as a complete thyroid panel, including thyroid antibody testing.  Like nutrients, an imbalance of one hormone can initiate a cascade of events that alters other hormones, so a comprehensive look at hormone status is essential.

For more information on our new tests or to receive a product guide booklet, complete form

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, July 31, 2014

Zinc, the MINERAL you should know about

The primary role of zinc is to activate almost 200zinc enzymes with vital roles in cell regulation, immune function, acid/base balance, DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis, lipid metabolism, eicosanoid production, and digestion.

Zinc also is a component of insulin (energy metabolism), thymic hormones (immune function) and gustin (taste acuity).

Deficiency  Symptoms:

Symptoms of zinc deficiency include fatigue, dermatitis, acne, loss of taste, poor wound healing, anorexia, decreased immunity, delayed growth, hypogonadism and delayed sexual maturation, diarrhea, skeletal abnormalities, alopecia, behavioral disturbances, white spots on fingernails, infertility and night blindness.

Those at risk for zinc deficiency include alcoholics, malnourished, malabsorption (Crohn’s Disease, celiac disease), long-term  parenteral nutrition, chronic renal disease, anorexics, dieters, pregnant women, elderly, and sickle-cell disease.

Repletion  Information:

Dietary sources rich in Zinc (per serving) are:

  • Red Meats                              
  • Wheat Germ
  • Seeds                                   
  • Nuts
  • Soybean Products                
  • Legumes
  • Potatoes                                  
  • Zinc-Fortified Cereal Products

Compounds found in meats enhance absorption of zinc from plant sources.

Download SpectraCell's Nutrient Correlation Wheel on Hypothyroidism, fatigue and weight management all showing the correlation with these have with zinc deficiency.

GET TESTED!

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Look at Carnitine

anatomy of nutrition blank resized 600

L-carnitine is an amino acid derivative of the essential amino acids L-lysine and methonine. The conversion to carnitine requires niacin (B3), vitamins B6 and C, and iron.  It is found in nearly all cells of the body but chiefly in the liver and kidney.  Carnitine is essential for the transportation of long-chain fatty acids across the inner mitochondrial membranes in the mitochondria, where they are metabolized by beta-oxidation to produce biological energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

L- carnitine also is required to remove short- and medium-chain fatty acids from the mitochondria.  This removal optimized energy production by maintaining coenzyme A at optimal levels for normal metabolism and energy production.

Deficiency Symptoms:

Deficiencies of carnitine may result from 1) deficiencies of essential amino acids lysine and methionine, 2) deficiencies of cofactors (B3, C, B6 and iron), 3) defective gastrointestinal function, 4) increased requirement because of high-fat diet, metabolic stress or disease.  The consequences of carnitine deficiency are impaired lipid metabolism and lipid accumulation in skeletal muscles, heart and liver. Patients usually exhibit muscle weakness and fatigue.

Normal heart function depends on adequate concentrations of carnitine.  While the normal heart stores more carnitine than required, if the heart does not have a good oxygen supply, carnitine levels quickly decrease.  This lack of oxygen leads to decreased energy production and increased risk for angina and heart disease.  Carnitine benefits blood lipids by lowering triglycerides and total cholesterol, while increasing HDL.  L-acetylcarnitine (LAC) may be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, senile depression and age-related memory loss.

Download the nutrient correlation chart on Fibromyalgia, Pain and Testosterone all include a deficiency in carnitine.

GET TEST TODAY!

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Monday, April 14, 2014

Magnesium, Vital for Proper Cell Function

Magnesium is predominantly found intracellularly, wheremagnesium it is vital for proper cell functions. Magnesium is the second most prevalent intracellular cation (after potassium).  Magnesium functions are numerous and essential, including enzyme activation (over 300 types), neuromuscular activity, membrane transport and interactions, energy metabolism (carbohydrates, fats, proteins), and roles in calcium and phosphorus metabolism. 

Deficiency  Symptoms

Deficiency symptoms are both acute (Trouseau and Chvostek signs, muscle spasms, tetany, cardia arrythmias, ataxia, vertigo, convulsions, organic brain syndrome) and chronic (thrombophlebitis, hemolytic anemia, bone loss, depressed immune function, poor wound healing, hyper irritability, burxism, hyperlipidemia, fatigue, hypertension). Those at risk for Magnesium deficiency include:  malabsorption, malnourished, alcoholics, diabetics, diuretic therapy, children, elderly, pregnant and lactating women, post menopausal women with osteoperosis, athletes, digitalis therapy, long-term therapy with antibiotics, chemotherapeutic and immunosuppressive medications.  In addition, the following diseases are associated with Magnesium deficiency:  cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, renal disease, parathyroid diseases, thyroid conditions.

Repletion  Information
Dietary sources richest in Magnesium (per serving) are:
  • Nutritional Supplements  
  • Seeds (especially  pumpkin)
  • Nuts 
  • Soybeans
  • Whole Grains     
  • Potatoes
  • Legumes
  • Fresh Vegetables
Watch or download Dr. Grabowski's presentation on "Connecting the Nutrients" here

Get Tested Today!

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Need for Glutathione

glutathioneGlutathione is implicated in many cellular function including antioxidant protection and detoxification. It is also essential for the maintenance of cell membrane integrity in red blood cells. Intracellular glutathione concentrations are principally derived by intracellular synthesis, as few cells directly uptake glutathione from the surrounding extracellular fluid.  The high concentration of glutathione in virtually all cells clearly indicates its importance in metabolic and oxidative detoxification processes.  Glutathione may be considered the preeminent antioxidant. 

Deficiency Symptoms

A wide range of human conditions such as aging, cancer, atherosclerosis, arthritis, viral infections, AIDS, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases and pulmonary diseases may be produced or made worse by "free radicals." Their treatment or prevention often includes antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids and selenium.  Glutathione is an essential component of the antioxidant defense system: producing a "sparing effect" for both tocopherol and ascorbate by reducing the oxidized forms, and by eliminating hydrogen peroxide by reacting with glutathione peroxidase.  Cellular glutathione functions to decrease the formation of oxidized LDL, implicated in the development of atherosclerosis. T-lymphocytes become deficient in glutathione in the progression of AIDS which impairs immune function.  Glutathione is also required for the synthesis of some prostaglandins from n-3 and n-6 polyunstaturated fatty acids which are important in the inflammatory response.  Patients with adult respiratory distress syndrome are favorably affected by treatments that increase cellular glutathione.

Download our Nutrient Function and Deficiency symptoms handout here.

GET TESTED TODAY!

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, March 20, 2014

The role Copper plays in YOUR body

copperLike most trace minerals, copper acts as an enzyme cofactor in several key metabolic processes in the body.  Among its many functions, copper aids in the formation of bone, hemoglobin and red blood cells, therefore enabling the efficient transport of oxygen throughout the body. 

In addition, copper works in balance with vitamin C and zinc to manufacture elastin (skin protein) as well as collagen and other structural proteins in cartilage and tendons.  It is also involved in the healing process, energy production, hair and skin coloring (production of melanin) and taste sensitivity. 

Copper stimulates the absorption of iron through the copper transport protein ceruloplasmin.  Copper also aids in the metabolism of several fatty acids and helps prevent oxidative damage by serving as a cofactor to superoxide dismutase.  In addition, copper is needed for proper insulation (mylination) of nerve cells and serves as a cofactor for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.

Deficiency Symptoms:

Due to copper's role in the formation of collagen, copper deficiency can manifest as osteoporosis.  Other possible signs of deficiency include anemia (due to its role in hemoglobin formation), baldness, diarrhea, general weakness, impaired respiratory function, myelopathy, decreased skin pigment, reduced resistance to infection and increased triglyceride levels.  Evidence also links copper deficiency with increased oxidative damage to cell membranes.

Download SpectraCell's Nutrient Correlation Chart on Inflammation and Hypertension, both handouts provide information as to how important is Copper in maintaining overall health.

Check your Copper levels and all other essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and how your immune system is performing. Stop Guessing, Start Testing!

GET TESTED!

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chromium an Essential Mineral YOU Need to Know About!

Chromium is an essential trace mineral that plays an chromium resized 600important role in optimizing insulin function and the regulation of blood glucose levels. Chromium may also be anti-atherogenic and assist in lowering cholesterol. 

Following food intake, blood glucose levels rise causing insulin to be secreted by the pancreas. Insulin lowers blood glucose levels by increasing the rate at which glucose enters a person's cells.  Chromium is believed to facilitate the attachment of insulin to the cell's insulin receptors.  Studies also indicate that chromium participates in cholesterol metabolism, suggesting a role for this mineral in maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels and preventing atherosclerosis.  Chromium also plays a role in nucleic acid synthesis.

Deficiency Symptoms:

Due to the processing methods that remove most of the naturally occurring chromium from commonly consumed foods, dietary deficiency of chromium is believed to be widespread in the United States.  Chromium deficiency may increase the likelihood of insulin resistance, a condition in which the cells of the body do not respond to the presence of insulin.  Insulin resistance can lead to elevated blood levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia) and elevated blood levels of glucose, which can ultimately cause heart disease and/or diabetes.  Deficiency of chromium is associated with metabolic syndrome.  Metabolic syndrome represents a constellation of symptoms, including hyperinsulinemia, high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, high blood sugar levels and low HDL cholesterol levels.  These symptoms increase one's risk for heart disease.  Low levels of chromium are also associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease incidence and mortality. 

Chromium deficiency correlates with depressed nucleic acid synthesis.  Chromium is essential for maintaining the structural stability of proteins and nucleic acids.  Animal studies have also found that this element is also vital for healthy fetal growth and development.  Studies on humans have established that premature infants born full-term. Others have found that multiparous women (women who've given birth two or more times) have far lower body chromium levels compared to nulliparae (women who've never given birth).  These findings suggest that chromium is an essential trace element during fetal growth and development.

Download our Nutrient Chart and the Nutrient Correlation Chart on Diabetes, both handouts provide information as to how important is Chromium.

Check your chromium levels and all other essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and how your immune system is performing.

GET TESTED!

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, February 13, 2014

Calcium the MOST abundant mineral in the body!

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, withcalcium 99% residing in bones and teeth. As a component of hard tissues, calcium fulfills a structural role to maintain body size and act as attachments for musculoskeletal tissues. The remaining 1% of calcium is present in blood and soft tissues.

Functions of non-skeletal calcium include: enzyme activation, second messenger roles (transmitting hormonal information), blood clotting, cell and cell organelle membrane function (stabilization and transport), nerve impulse transmission and muscular contraction, tone, and irritability. Calcium levels in the blood are maintained within very strict limits by dietary intake, hormonal regulation and a rapidly exchangeable pool in bone tissue.

Deficiency Symptoms:

Calcium deficiencies are both acute and chronic. Acute calcium deficiency relates to lack of ionized calcium, causing increased muscular and nervous irritability, muscle spasms, muscle cramps and tetany. Chronic calcium deficiency manifests as bone loss disorders (osteoporosis, osteomalacia in adults, rickets in children), tooth decay, periodontal disease, depression and possibly hypertension. Those at risk for calcium deficiency include: malnourished, malabsorption and bone loss disorders. Conditions which are known to decrease calcium uptake or distribution are: decreased gastric acidity, vitamin D deficiency, high fat diets, high oxalate intake from rhubarb, spinach, chard and beet greens, high phytic acid intake from whole grains, high fiber intake, immobilization, faster gastrointestinal motility, psychological stress, thiazide diuretic therapy, aluminum compounds (aluminum-containing antacids, drugs, some parenteral feeding solutions).

View our webinar on Clinical Implications of vitamin D and calcium deficiencies, as well as download a copy of this case study highlighting 52 year old female with muscle aches all include a deficiency in calcium.

GET TESTED!

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Folate, how vital is it to YOU?

Folate also known as folic acid is needed to folate produce blood cells and other new tissue cells. 

Folate is a generic term for a group of pteridine compounds essential for one-carbon unit metabolism.  Folates are involved in the synthesis of DNA, RNA and tRNA necessary for cell growth.  Folates are required for metabolism of methionine, histidine, tryptophan, glycine, serine and formate.  Interactions with vitamin B6 and B12 also occur from common metabolic pathways.  Folate function is necessary to prevent accumulation of homocysteine.  Deficient folate status of pregnant females is also directly linked to incidence of birth defects, especially neural tube defects such as spina bifida. 

Deficiency symptoms:

Symptoms of folate deficiency include birth defects (neural tube defects, spina bifida), fatigue, anorexia, constipation, glossitis, headaches, insomnia, restless legs, paranoia, memory impairment, megaloblastic anemia (identical in appearance to vitamin B12 deficiency), hypersegmentation of neutrophils and with severe deficiency, intestinal lesions.  However, the neurological complications of vitamin B12 deficiency do not occur with folate deficiency. Thus, a regulatory limit on folate levels in dietary supplements of 400 mcg per unit is in effect, to prevent a potential missed diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Those at risk for folate deficiency include: Vitamin B12 deficiency, malnourished, malabsorption, pregnant and lactating women, increased rate of cellular division (burns, trauma, malignancies, hemolytic anemias), alcoholics, anti-convulsant therapy (phenytoin, barbiturates, primidone), folate antagonist therapy (nethotrezate, 5-fluoroacul, pyrimethamine), tuberculosis therapy (isoniazid plus cycloserine), oral contraceptive users, sulfasalzine therapy, elderly, infants and inherited folate disorders.

Repletion Information:

Dietary sources richest in folate (per serving) include:

  • Nutritional Supplements
  • vitamin-fortified cereals
  • wheat germ
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Seeds
  • Liver

Download the nutrient correlation chart on Autism, and anxiety, as well as a case study highlighting 50 year old female with chronic fatigue all include a deficiency in folate.

To find out your micronutrients levels, click here!

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Vitamin You May NOT Know About!

Vitamin b5 resized 600

Pantothenate also called Pantothenic acid,  or vitamin B5(a B vitamin), is a water-soluble vitamin. Pantothenic acid plays vital roles in energy production from foodstuffs.

Pantothenate is a component of coenzyme A, which is indispensable for two-carbon unit metabolism (acetyl groups).  Acetyl groups are involved in the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and other compounds, as well as synthesis of fats, cholesterol, steroid hormones, porphyrin and phospholipids.

Deficiency symptoms:

Pantothenate deficiency symptoms are thought to be uncommon because of widespread distribution in all foodstuffs. However, human deficiency symptoms may include fatigue, depression, burning feet, dermatitis, burning or pain of arms and legs, anorexia, nausea, indigestion, irritability, mental depression, fainting, hair loss, increased heart rate, and susceptibility to infection.

Repletion Information:

Dietary sources richest in Pantothenate (per serving) include:

  • Nutritional supplements
  • Meats
  • Whole Grain Products
  • Vegetables
  • Seeds
  • Nutritional Yeasts
  • Legumes
  • Wheat Germ
  • Nuts

Download your very own copy of the Nutrient Correlation Chart on Fatigue and a case study on 54 year old with primary symptom of depression

To find out your micronutrients levels, click here!

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Thursday, December 12, 2013

Are YOU Biotin deficient?

Biotin is a coenzyme and is also known as vitamin H. As a supplement, biotin deficiency symptomsbiotin is sometimes used for diabetes, brittle nails, and other conditions. Biotin is a coenzyme and a B vitamin and is also known as vitamin H. As a supplement, biotin is sometimes used for diabetes, brittle nails, and other conditions.

Function:

Biotin is required for proper metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. 
Biotin-dependent enzymes catalyze the addition of carboxyl groups (COO-) from bicarbonate, for use in fatty acid biosynthesis, gluconeogenesis, lipogenesis, propionate metabolism and leucine catabolism.

Deficiency Symptoms:

Symptoms of biotin deficiency include erythematous exfoliative dermatitis, thinning hair, fatigue, irritability, mild depression, somnolence, muscle pains, anorexia, nausea, mild anemia. Dietary symptoms include fatigue, dry skin, body hair loss, nausea, loss of appetite and mild depression. People at risk for biotin deficiency are those who consume excessive amounts of raw egg whites, inherited disorders of biotin metabolism, extended total parenteral nutrition (biotin-free), loss of enteric gut micro flora from antibiotic therapy or altered gut motility, pregnant and lactating women, anti epileptic drug therapy, alcoholics, trauma (burns and surgery), elderly, malabsorption (especially achlorhydria).

Want to check your micronutrient levels click here to be contacted by one of our SpectraCell representatives.

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Having problems losing weight? It could be a vitamin K deficiency

Vitamin K is a group of structurally similar, fat-vitamin k
soluble vitamins that th
e human body needs for post translational modification of certain proteins required for blood coagulation, and in metabolic pathways in bone and other tissue.

The primary function of vitamin K is to aid in the formation of clotting factors and bone proteins. It serves as a cofactor in the production of six proteins that regulate blood clotting, including prothrombin. In addition, it helps to form osteocalcin, a protein necessary for the mineralization of bone. Vitamin K also aids in the formation of glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver. In addition, it promotes the prevention and reversal of arterial calcification, plague progression and lipid peroxidation. Deficiency may increase the risk of calcification of arterial walls, particularly in individuals on vitamin D supplementation (Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption). Vitamin K exists in three forms: K1, a natural form found in plants (phylloquinone); K2, which is synthesized in the intestine (menaquinone); and K3, a synthetic form that must be activated in the liver (menadione). Vitamin K is absorbed in the upper small intestines and transported throughout the body in chylomicrons. 

Deficiency Symptoms:

Excessive bleeding, a history of bruising, appearance of ruptured capillaries or menorrhagia (heavy periods) are the most common clinical symptoms of overt vitamin K deficiency, although subclinical deficiency may not affect clotting mechanisms. Due to its critical role in bone formation, long-term vitamin K deficiency may impair bone integrity and growth, eventually predisposing a person to osteoporosis. Antibiotic usage can induce vitamin K deficiency since it upsets the balance of normal intestinal flora. Anticoagulants such as Coumadin and warfarin can also deplete vitamin K by blocking the activation of prothrombin. However, patients on warfarin or other blood anticoagulants should not supplement with vitamin K unless specifically recommended and approved by their physician. Other causes of deficiency include celiac disease, liver disease, certain medications (i.e. aspirin, Dilantin), very high doses of vitamins A and E (over 600 IU) and gastrointestinal disorders associated with the malabsorption of fats, such as bile duct obstruction, pancreatitis or inflammatory bowel disease. 

Download your very own copy of the Nutrient Correlation Chart on Weight Management the Nutrient Chart and an abstract on adult obesity

To find out your micronutrients levels, click here

 

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Role of vitamin E

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble compounds from oxidative damage by free radicals.

Vitamin E exists in eight chemical forms (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol) that have varying levels of biological activity. Alpha- (or α-) tocopherol is the only form that is recognized to meet human requirements. Alpha-tocopherol has direct effect on the control of inflammation, red and white blood cell production, connective tissue growth and genetic control of cell division.  Vitamin E acts to reduce free radical damage. 

The principal use of vitamin E is that of an antioxidant.  It helps protects against heart disease, cancer, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.  In addition, alpha-tocopherol supplementation is useful in treating other cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, fibrocystic breast disease, menopause symptoms and tardive dyskinesia.  It may also have applications in Parkinson's Disease and arthritis.  Vitamin E is important to immune function, protecting thymic function and white blood cells from oxidative stress.

Symptoms of vitamin E Deficiency:

  • Nerve damage
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor coordination
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Red blood cell fragility 
  • Anemia
  • Retrolental fibroplasia 


Download your very own copy of the Nutrient Deficiency Chart and the Cognitive Function Sheet.

To find out your micronutrients levels, click here

 

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What YOU didn't know about vitamin D

vitamin D Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate. Vitamin D is the principle regulator of calcium homeostasis in the body.  It is essential for skeletal development and bone mineralization.  Inadequate exposure to sunlight contributes to vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D deficiency in adults can lead to osteoporosis.  Increasing evidence is accumulating that vitamin D may also contribute to antioxidant function by inhibiting lipid peroxidation.  The mechanism of the antioxidant effect is unknown.  Vitamin D is also needed for adequate blood levels of insulin and it also appears to demonstrate both immune enhancing and immunosuppressive effects.

 

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms:

  • Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive impairment in older adults
  • Severe asthma in children
  • Cancer

Repletion Information:

Supplemental vitamin D is available as vitamin D2 or vitamin D3.  Vitamin D3 is considered to be the more biologically active form of the vitamin and at this time is the form most recommended for repletion. 

Download SpectraCell's Nutrition Correlation chart referencing the correlation between vitamin D with Estrogen and Testosterone and view our webinar on Clinical Implications of vitamin D and Calcium Deficiencies.

For more information on how to check your vitamin levels click here.

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vitamin C, the superstar" of the vitamin group"

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, along with vitamin E, blahbeta-carotene, and many other plant-based nutrients. Vitamin C is often considered one of the “superstars” of the nutrient world. Vitamin C has a prominent role in over 300 functions in the body.  Dozens of studies show that Vitamin C has multifaceted benefits ranging from protection against heart disease and cancer to other more esoteric conditions such as fatigue, wound healing and general immunity.  It is also a potent antioxidant that helps protect against premature aging.


Deficiency symptoms of Vitamin C


Signs of vitamin deficiency include dry and splitting hair; gingivitis more commonly known as inflammation of the gums and bleeding gums; rough, dry, scaly skin; decreased wound-healing rate, easy bruising; nosebleeds; and a decreased ability to ward off infection.

Conditions Associated with low levels of vitamin C

Low levels of vitamin C have been associated with a number of serious conditions, including high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, stroke, some cancers, and atherosclerosis, the build-up plaque in blood vessels that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Download SpectraCell's Nutrition Correlation chart referencing the correlation between vitamin C with hypertension as well as watch our webinar "Nutrition and its relation to Cardiovascular Risk Factors"

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 also known as Cobalamin is a water solublevitamin vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood.  Vitamin B12 is one of the eight B vitamins. A series of closely related compounds known collectively as cobalamins or vitamin B12 are converted into active forms methylcobalamin or 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin.

Deficiency symptoms of vitamin B12:

Deficiency symptoms of vitamin B12 are both hematological (pernicious anemia) and neurological.  A megaloblastic anemia may occur because the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency on folate metabolism. Below are examples of clinical signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • shortness of breath

  • fatigue

  • weakness

  • irritability

  • sore tongue

  • decrease in blood cell counts (red, white and platelets)

Neurological symptoms are manifested as a progressive neuropathy, with loss of position sense and ataxia.  If vitamin B12 repletion is not initiated, permanent neurological damage, including degeneration of nerves and spinal cord can develop. Evidence suggests that mental symptoms of depression and fatigue are detectable before anemia develops.  Vitamin B12 is necessary to prevent accumulation of homocysteine, a toxic metabolic byproduct linked to cardiovascular disease and connective tissue abnormalities.  Hypochlorhydira and gastrointestinal disturbances are frequently associated with vitamin B12 deficiency.

Repletion Information:

Dietary sources for cobalamins are strictly from animal foodstuffs. Vitamin B12 is not found in plant foodstuffs. Dietary supplements can also contain vitamin B12. Since the absorption and intracellular activation of oral vitamin B12 are frequently difficult, consideration should be given to injectable forms of vitamin B12. 

Download SpectraCell's Nutrition Correlation chart referencing the correlation between vitamin B12 with Telomeres as well as watch our webinar "Nutritional Considerations of Weight Management."
Case Study, 11 year old girl suffers from seizures, click here to view the correlation between a deficiency in vitamin B12 with seizure episodes.

Posted by Elissa Rodriguez at Friday, September 20, 2013