What are micronutrients?
Micronutrients, as opposed to macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat), are comprised of vitamins and minerals which are required in small quantities to ensure normal metabolism, growth and physical well‐being.
These are essential organic nutrients, most of which are not made in the body, or only in insufficient amounts, and usually must be obtained through food. When dietary intake of a vitamin is inadequate, deficiency disorders result. Although vitamins are only present and required in minute quantities, compared to the macronutrients, they are just as vital to health and need to be considered in the context of nutrition quality.
These are inorganic nutrients that also play a key role in ensuring health and well‐ being. They include the trace elements copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc together with the macro elements calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. As with vitamins, minerals are found in small quantities within the body and they are obtained from a wide variety of foods.
No single food contains all of the vitamins and minerals we need and, therefore, a balanced and varied diet is necessary for an adequate intake of all micronutrients.
Micronutrients that are free floating in your blood and exist outside the cells, determined in serum are called extracellular micronutrients.
These extracellular micronutrients are a static measure of what is in your blood at any given time. These are dependent on your short-term intake of supplements or diet and give a direct assessment of your baseline micronutrient levels.
Extracellular nutrient tests reflect a person’s diet over a relatively narrow time frame.
Intracellular micronutrients are the micronutrients absorbed by your circulating white blood cells and red blood cells.
Cellular micronutrient absorption is an important step in maintaining and promoting optimal functioning of all our cells.
It is important to understand that, even though you may be consuming an adequate or healthy diet or supplements, your cellular intake levels of those nutrients may not be sufficient and may still provide risks for deficiencies and the disorders associated with them.
Your genetics, aging, lifestyle, chronic illness, and medications all affect your cellular nutrient absorption. The intracellular portion of Vibrant’s micronutrient test takes all the above factors into consideration to identify your cellular nutrient absorption status. This test can reveal a person’s functional nutritional status over a much longer time (4-6 months) than extracellular testing.
Role of Micronutrients
Almost every physiological function in your body requires micronutrients to function optimally. Vitamin, minerals and anti-oxidants play a key role in:
- Producing and releasing energy.
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Reducing systemic inflammation.
- Protecting against free radical damage.
- Maintaining a healthy hormonal balance (i.e. thyroid, sex hormones, adrenal hormones, neurotransmitters/brain hormones, etc.).
- Maintaining insulin sensitivity.
- Slowing down cellular aging.
- Promoting the health of all tissues: skin, bone, brain, breast, gut, prostate, heart, muscle, organs, etc.
- Protecting against the development, progression, and recurrence of cancer.
Why Test for Micronutrients?
The benefits of extracellular testing include:
- Identifying baseline nutritional deficiencies.
- Detecting higher than normal levels of vitamins and minerals in your blood.
- Identifying excesses of nutrients caused by uncontrolled supplementation, to prevent the increased risk of certain chronic diseases or nutrient toxicity side effects.
- Avoiding unnecessary spending on costly supplements.
- Providing a short-term nutritional status of the last few days.
Extracellular micronutrients have been well studied and deficiencies have correlated to multiple chronic diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. 1,2,3,4. Testing extracellular micronutrients also play a role in patient management for such chronic diseases.
The benefits of intracellular testing include:
- Identifying functional deficiencies in intracellular micronutrient levels (cellular nutrient absorption deficiency).
- Identifying essential micronutrient absorption deficiencies which cause or increase the risk of chronic diseases.
- Providing a long-term nutritional status of the previous 4-6 months.
Intracellular micronutrients have been studied scientifically and have long been considered a more sensitive tissue measure of micronutrient absorption. For example, vitamin C levels in lymphocytes have been found to be deficient in Type 2 diabetes patients as compared to plasma levels. 5 RBC folate and magnesium are clinically more significant than whole blood measures of these nutrients. 6 RBC omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid levels have been found to be markers of accelerated structural and cognitive aging. 7
Knowing both your extracellular and intracellular micronutrient levels are key to a thorough understanding of your nutritional requirements at a foundational level, which may contribute to your risk for disease, while simultaneously and positively impacting your overall health and well-being.
Vibrant Micronutrients test
The only test that provides a comprehensive extracellular and intracellular assessment of the levels of the most important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids and amino acids.
- Red Blood Cell (RBC)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin D,25-OH
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K1
- Vitamin K2
- Methylmalonic acid (MMA)
- RBC Omega fatty acids (n3 and n6)
How do you order Vibrant’s Micronutrients test?
Vibrant’s micronutrients test is only available to order through your provider. If your physician is not in our network, please contact us.
Who should run the Vibrant micronutrients test?
Who should run the Vibrant micro- nutrient test?
This testing would be most beneficial if you:
A. Suffer from
- Chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and/or arthritis.
- Skin problems.
- Numbness/tingling in your hands or feet.
- Weakened Immune system.
- Digestive issues/disorders like celiac, wheat sensitivity, IBS, IBD, and SIBO.
B. Are experiencing
- Advanced aging.
- Stress, feeling tired, or chronic fatigue.
C. Have a history of
- Long-term use of prescription medications.
- Poor diet.
D. Are Someone who is a
- Athletic competitor/exercise regularly.
- Vegan or Vegetarian.
- Vibrant’s patented technology and reporting allow for high sensitivity quantitative detection of intracellular micronutrients.
- Vibrant provides both Extracellular and Intracellular testing for a thorough understanding of your short-term and long term nutritional status and requirements.
- High Accuracy and high precision testing enabled by automation and advanced testing methodologies.
- Clinically relevant RBC Folate, Omega fatty acids and Magnesium are measured.
- WBC levels are normalized to total WBC count.
- Fast TAT of 14 calendar days.
- Support team: highly qualiﬁed expert dietitians available to provide support on dietary plans and supplementation for patients.
- Advanced reporting with easy to interpret results and repletion suggestions.
- Comprehensive back up testing to identify potential sources of malabsorption.
What happens in the lab?
1Three tubes will need to be drawn, one trace element serum tube and two whole blood K2EDTA tubes. The trace element tube will need to be spun down, followed by pipetting the serum into a trace element-free transfer tube.
2The transfer tube, with the separated serum, and the whole blood tubes are then sent to the lab for processing.
3In the lab, one of the whole blood samples is spun down so that the RBC can be collected from the bottom of tubes.
4WBC will be collected from the other whole blood sample through spin-down. Robotic assay stations are utilized to aspirate WBC and ensure accurate extraction with high precision.
5All three subsets are processed separately to isolate appropriate micronutrients for injection into mass-spectrometry. All micronutrient levels are measured in an advanced state-of-the-art mass spectrometer that provides increased sensitivity for challenging compounds, enhanced detection system with six orders of linear dynamic range to ensure sensitivity is accessible, and a tool-free probe design that provides improved reproducibility between users.
6Nutrients measured in RBCs include: folate, iron, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and magnesium.
7Serum micronutrient measurements provide extracellular levels.
8WBC measurements are done and total WBC counts are taken on an automated cell counter.
Intracellular WBC levels are normalized to the total WBC count in a patient’s sample. This normalization is a key step in ensuring minimal variability in results due to specimen differences. Because there are no external stimuli provided to stimulate the cells, all variabilities involved in such processes are removed, thereby providing the most accurate and quantitative method available for intracellular testing.
9All reports are generated with reference ranges and an easy to interpret educational guide on each of the micronutrients.
Why not simply take additional
Though it would seem obvious to boost the body’s nutrients with one of the many commercially available supplements, the human body is more complex than that. Plenty of evidence exists to show that micronutrient excess can also cause harm and long-term supplement intake can risk excessive levels.
Certain nutrients perform best in the presence of other nutrients. For example, the body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium.
Certain nutrients may perform counteractive functions. For example, beta-carotene and vitamin C enhance iron absorption, while calcium and polyphenols appear to reduce the absorption of iron. 8
Also, numerous factors can affect proper nutrient absorption:
Potential genetic abnormalities
Tobacco and alcohol use
The type of foods you eat, as well as what they contain
Certain medical conditions affect the way your body absorbs vitamins and can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Examples of these diseases include:
- Pernicious anemia (lack of intrinsic factor)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
- Intestinal permeability Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Cystic fibrosis (a genetic disorder affecting the lungs and digestive system)
- Celiac disease
- Pancreatic, liver, and gallbladder diseases, as well as gallbladder removal
- Radiation treatment that leads to intestinal inflammation
If you have had part of your stomach or intestine removed, as in the case of bariatric weight loss surgery, your body likely will not absorb vitamins and minerals as efficiently as it did before surgery.
Studies have shown that parasitic infections (such as tapeworm, hookworm, and giardia) can also cause nutrient malabsorption. This is because parasites in the human gastrointestinal tract feed on nutrients, taking them away from their human hosts.
Taking certain medications can lower vitamin and mineral absorption by interfering with receptor sites or fat absorption (which affects fat-soluble vitamins). Examples include proton-pump inhibitors, some antacids, weight loss medications, antibiotics, some anti-inflammatory medications, diabetes medications, and anti-seizure medications.9
Should I fast before the blood is drawn?
Fasting is not required before blood draw.
Should I discontinue my supplements when I take this test?There are no dietary supplement restrictions required before Micronutrient testing. However, some ordering providers may recommend you discontinue dietary supplements 7-14 days before testing to assess your “baseline” (normal) micronutrient levels. Some ordering providers may prefer to test your micronutrient levels while you are taking dietary supplements to assess how well the dietary supplement is absorbed. Please consult with your ordering provider regarding whether they recommend that you fast for 8 hours (no food or beverage except water) or continue or discontinue any dietary supplements or medications before your Micronutrient test.
Where is the testing performed?
All testing is performed at Vibrant America Clinical Labs at San Carlos.
This test has been developed and its performance characteristics determined by the CLIA-certified laboratory performing the test. This test has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although FDA does not currently clear or approve laboratory-developed tests in the U.S., certification of the laboratory is required under CLIA to ensure the quality and validity of the tests.
1. Ames B. DNA damage from micronutrient deficiencies is likely to be a major cause of cancer. Mutat Res. 2001;475:7–20. [PubMed]
2. Kamphuis, Patrick J.G.H., and Philip Scheltens. “Can Nutrient Prevent or Delay Onset of Alzheimer’s Disease?” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease vol. 20 (2010): 765-75. doi:IOS Press Content Library.
3. Via, Michael. “The Malnutrition of Obesity: Micronutrient Deficiencies That Promote Diabetes.” ISRN Endocrinology 2012 (2012): 103472. PMC. Web. 18 Sept. 2017.
4. Klaus K.A. Witte, Andrew L. Clark, John G.F. Cleland, Chronic heart failure and micronutrients, In Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 37, Issue 7, 2001, Pages 1765-1774, ISSN 0735-1097, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0735-1097(01)01227-X.
5. Yamada, Hiroshi, Kaoru Yamada, Masako Waki, and Keizo Umegaki. “Lymphocyte and Plasma Vitamin C Levels in Type 2 Diabetic Patients With and Without Diabetes Complications.” Diabetes Cares, vol. 27, no. 10, Oct. 2004, pp. 2491-92, care.diabetesjournals.org/content/diacare/27/10/2491.full.pdf. Accessed 18 Sept. 2017.
6. Cox I. M., Campbell M. J., Dowson D. (1991). Red blood cell magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. Lancet 337, 757–760. 10.1016/0140-6736(91)91371-Z [PubMed]
7. 8. Tan Z.S., Harris W.S., Beiser A.S., Au R., Himali J.J., Debette S., Pikula A., DeCarli C.S., Wolf P.A., Vasan R.S., et al. Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging. Neurology. 2012;78:658–664. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318249f6a9. [PubMed]
8. Achieving Iron Balance with Diet, Iron Disorders Institute, 18 Sept. 2017, www.irondisorders.org/diet/. Accessed 18 Sept. 2017.
9. Pelton, Ross, James B. LaValle, Ernest B. Hawkins, and Daniel L. Krinsky. Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook. 2nd ed., Lexi Comp, 2001.