If you have been to my office in the past two or three years, I have probably talked to you about functional medicine testing. Since dealing with my own diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, I have been passionate about finding ways to identify the root cause of illness instead of just treating symptoms. Functional medicine diagnostic testing looks beyond what is ordered in a standard blood-work. Unfortunately, this type of testing is rarely covered by insurance and can be incredibly expensive.
So when I find a test that is truly state-of-the-art, has amazing potential to change a patient’s quality of life,
AND is partially covered by insurance (even Tricare!),
I get really excited!
What is this magic test?
The Spectracell Micronutrient and Antioxidant Test!
Not excited yet? Let me convince you. Here is what I love about this test.
1 It identifies functional nutritional deficiencies– I rarely see patients suffering from protein or caloric malnutrition. But I see micronutrient deficiency all the time! This includes vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and antioxidants like CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid, and glutathione. Even if you are eating lots of unprocessed whole foods, you may not be getting enough nutrition. Modern day farming techniques have depleted our soil of important nutrients, and food today may be up to 40% less nutritious than it was 50 years ago.
2 This test is completely individualized – Many patients tell me that they have never had a nutritional deficiency show up on a blood test. It’s true that blood-work will often check serum levels of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc. However, blood is not a great way to assess nutritional deficiency. Your body really wants to keep blood levels in the normal range. In fact, it will steal nutrients from your tissues to keep blood levels within range. So by the time something shows up as deficient in your blood, your cells have probably been starved of it for quite a while. The spectracell test is completely different. Instead of measuring levels of nutrients in your blood, your lymphocytes are cultured in an optimal nutrient bath and examined to see how they grow, divide, and function. Then your lymphocytes are exposed to a nutrient bath that is deficient in one nutrient at a time. Say your cells’ enzymatic processes grind to a halt when your cells are deprived of zinc. That lets us know that your cells are probably deficient, or that you require more zinc to function well. It may not show up as being low on a blood test, but we know from observing your cells that without this particular nutrient, your health will suffer.
3 Can’t I just take a multivitamin? – It’s a good start, but 50% of people taking a multivitamin are micronutrient deficient! Most multivitamins have a bare minimum of nutrients because it’s impossible to fit everything you need in a one-a-day tablet. Knowing which nutrients your cells really require means that you can supplement more effectively. Or possibly even skip the supplements, and change your diet to include foods high in your required nutrients.
4 Won’t everyone need the same nutrients? While we all have a shared human experience, we are each incredibly unique. I recently did a 23 And Me DNA genetic test. I was surprised to find out that not only do I have a gene for optimism (yay!) and a gene for small breasts (hmpf), but I also have a variant in my MTHFR gene. That means my cells require methylated folate and are unable to use folic acid effectively. The fact that I have an autoimmune disease also changes my nutritional requirements. The beauty of this test is that it lets your cells tell us what you need right now for optimal health.
5 Who needs this test? Nutrient deficiencies are implicated in fatigue, cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, stress, diabetes, cognitive decline, autoimmune disease, chronic infections, metabolic syndrome, insomnia, aging, and even weight gain. I literally can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from this test.
6 How do I get this magical test? I think it’s best to start with a conversation, either in my office, via email, or on the phone. Especially if you have health concerns and want to know how this test may be helpful. If we decide it’s a good fit, I mail you a test kit and send you off for a blood draw. Because the lab can ship test kits directly to your home, we can order this test even if you live in a different part of the country! You can learn more about Spectracell here: Spectracell Laboratory