Ordering Your Vitamin Deficiency Test Kit
If youre ready to get started with your vitamin deficiency test, here are the steps youll follow for mostregardless of the brand or test you purchase:
These directions may differ slightly between brands, so thoroughly read the instructions and supporting materials that come in your kit.
How To Correct A Mineral Deficiency
Treatment for a mineral deficiency depends on how severe the deficiency is. If you have an extreme deficiency, you may require more tests to find out whether or not its affected your overall health.
But in many cases, its possible to treat a mineral deficiency with dietary changes. For example, if you lack iron, you may simply need to add more iron-fortified foods, like meat and eggs, to your diet.
Research the mineral you are deficient in and look for ways to add foods that contain high amounts of that mineral to your diet. Then, get another test done to see how those changes affected the results.
If you are unable to keep up with what your body requires through diet alone, you may need to add supplements to your daily regimen. You can choose a high-quality multivitamin that includes the minerals youre deficient in or choose a standalone supplement that includes exactly what you need.
Just make sure you take the recommended amount, minus what youre already getting through your diet. You can find the recommended values from the Office of Dietary Supplements.
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How To Test Your Vitamin And Mineral Levels
Most vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be picked up with a blood test, like:
- a venous blood test a trained professional will use a needle to puncture a vein, usually in your arm, to collect a blood sample.
- a finger-prick blood test using a lancet, you can prick your own finger and collect a small blood sample.
What Does The Test Result Mean
In general, low concentrations of a mineral indicate a deficiency and high concentrations indicate an excess. Successful treatment for a deficiency should show increasing mineral levels and a decrease in symptoms while treatment for mineral toxicity should show decreasing mineral levels and a corresponding decrease in signs and symptoms.
Trace mineral test results must, however, be interpreted with a degree of caution. Certain treatments for excess minerals can actually increase mineral concentrations in blood and urine samples temporarily. Some minerals, such as copper and zinc, may be increased temporarily due to infection, inflammation, or pregnancy, for example. The healthcare practitioner will interpret findings in conjunction with the person’s symptoms and clinical history.
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When To See A Doctor
Regardless of the results of an at-home vitamin deficiency test, a person should consult their doctor. If their results are positive, the doctor will likely double-check them, run other appropriate tests, and help diagnose any underlying cause of the deficiency before setting out a treatment plan.
If an individuals results are negative, but they are still experiencing symptoms, a doctor may carry out further tests to diagnose any underlying conditions.
A person should not attempt to treat a vitamin or mineral deficiency without first discussing it with a doctor.
How Do You Know If You Have A Nutrient Deficiency
A lack of nutrients is only very clearly apparent in rare cases for example, when an acute magnesium deficiency leads to painful leg cramps. Often symptoms such as a headache, fatigue, dry skin and hair loss occur. We often dont associate these symptoms with a nutrient deficiency until serious health problems arise.
For example, a vitamin B12 deficiency develops over years while vitamin B12 reserves are slowly depleted. We usually dont notice this, but over time, this deficiency can lead to anaemia, nerve damage and depression. This is the case for many other deficiency symptoms.
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How To Prevent Deficiency
A study published in January 2018 in the Nutrients Journal confirmed that the best way for vitamin deficiencies to be prevented is through a âbalanced dietâ that incorporates all of the necessary vitamins the body requires.
A further study, also published in the Nutrients Journal in 2017, advises that multivitamin supplements are also a highly effective way of minimizing the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency.
Introduction To Blood Tests For Vitamin Deficiency
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies typically stem from not providing your body with a balanced diet. A balanced diet will usually provide your body with enough vitamins and minerals that you need to lead a healthy life however, deficiencies can happen for a number of reasons. Some common causes of vitamin and mineral deficiency are a diet that lacks intake of fruits or vegetables, overconsumption of alcohol, poor absorption of nutrients from diseases such as Chrons or celiac, a poorly executed vegan or vegetarian diet, medications, and during pregnancy. Regularly testing for vitamin and mineral levels in your body is important for your overall health, especially if you are more at risk due to a health condition or lifestyle/diet transition.
Most tests for vitamin and mineral deficiencies are administered through blood tests a venous blood test taken by a healthcare professional, or a finger-prick at-home blood test will typically offer fast and accurate results.
What Are the Signs You Need a Test?
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Best For Accuracy: Letsgetchecked Micronutrient Test
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- Time for Results: 2-5 days
The Micronutrient Test from LetsGetChecked is our top pick for accuracy because its labs are CLIA-approved and CAP-accredited.
Checks your levels of seven micronutrients
Labs are CLIA and CAP approved
Results in 25 days
Pricier than other micronutrient tests
Only tests one B vitamin level
More involved sample collection process than others
The Micronutrient Test from LetsGetChecked assesses 7 different micronutrient levels: magnesium, copper, selenium, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and vitamin E. It is roughly $199 with free shipping and will arrive at your door in about five days. You can use FSA or HSA funds to pay for the test. Note that the test isnt available in New York.
Using the LetsGetChecked app or website, you should activate your test before you collect your sample. After collecting it, mail the sample back to the lab and youll be notified when your results are ready.
Reviewers are satisfied with the test, but some LetsGetChecked customers wish that there was more individualized advice available after you receive your results.
For optimal test accuracy, all LetsGetChecked tests are analyzed in a CLIA-certified and CAP-approved lab.
Risk Factors For Vitamin D Deficiency
Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include lack of sun exposure, living in Northern latitudes, and having a darker skin tone. The skin pigment melanin naturally blocks UVB rays and can interfere with the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin. Northern latitudes are areas of the world furthest from the equator where there is little direct sunlight for much of the year. In these areas, the skin makes little if any vitamin D except during summer months.5
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How Is It Used
Trace mineral tests are typically ordered individually to detect, evaluate, and monitor mineral deficiencies or excesses. A healthcare practitioner may select one or more tests based upon the signs and symptoms or underlying conditions the patient has.
Sometimes more than one test is ordered to detect a single deficiency or toxicity, such as copper and ceruloplasmin tests to evaluate the amount of copper in the body or a group of iron tests with a CBC to evaluate iron deficiency as a potential cause of anemia.
If a person is malnourished or has a condition associated with malabsorption, a practitioner may order several trace mineral tests for an initial evaluation, then order one or more tests periodically to monitor the person’s nutritional status and/or the effectiveness of treatment.
If someone has an inherited condition that leads to excess concentrations of a mineral, or has been exposed to toxic concentrations, a test for such a mineral may be ordered to help detect and diagnose the condition. Additional tests may be ordered at intervals to monitor the person’s condition.
Should I Supplement My Child With Vitamin D
The best way to know how much vitamin D your child needs is by getting the vitamin D 25 blood test. Current recommendations are for breast-fed infants to receive 400 IU of vitamin D daily to prevent deficiency. Because formula is fortified with vitamin D most formula-fed babies do not need additional supplementation. The Institute of Medicine now recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily for all children age 1+
Stay tuned for Part 2: The B Vitamins!
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Best Labs To Check Vitamin B12 Levels
Serum Vitamin B12: This is a simple and fairly reliable way to measure vitamin B12 levels. Many doctors believe they can surmise B12 deficiency by looking at the shape of red blood cells. While this test a complete blood count can indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency, it is not very reliable and does nothing to detect a functional deficiency. A functional deficiency is when you have a nutrient level that is considered normal by conventional standards, but the nutrient is not at an adequate level to do its job in the body optimally.
We like to see serum B12 levels at a minimum of 500 pg/mL, but prefer it to be above 900 pg/mL. We will often cross-reference this number with a urine MMA test.
Urine Methylmalonic Acid : MMA is a marker that, when elevated, indicates a vitamin B12 deficiency. We love to use this test in our practice because it shows if B12 is doing its job adequately. We have many patients who have normal serum B12 levels but an elevated MMA, meaning that they are functionally deficient.
Optimal urinary MMA levels should be below 1.0 mmol/mol. Some patients have serum B12 levels that are above the normal reference range, yet their MMA was elevated, indicating a functional deficiency. This is why functional tests like urinary MMA are so important.
What A Mineral Deficiency Test Will Tell You
Now that you understand the benefits of a mineral deficiency test, you know to understand how to conduct the test. You also need to know what sort of information you can expect to get from the test.
While there are plenty of tests available, the biggest difference is typically the comprehensiveness of the tests measurements. If you only want to measure a few key vitamins and minerals, you can, but you can also opt for a test that measures nearly every important vitamin, macro mineral and micro mineral.
Many of these tests are also available individually. If your symptoms indicate a possible deficiency in one vitamin or mineral, in particular, you may only need to test for that one vitamin or mineral.
That being said, a more in-depth test will provide a lot more information. However, if you are paying for the panel out of your own pocket, you will pay substantially more than doing individual tests. Thats why it is valuable to look at the various types of tests offered and see what works best for you.
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Types Of Mineral Deficiency Tests
As far as how to test for a vitamin and mineral deficiency, youll find several different options.
A venous blood test is done by a trained professional. A needle is used to puncture your vein, typically in the arm. This blood sample is then sent to a lab for evaluation.
There are also blood tests that only require a finger-prick. Instead of collecting blood from your arm, a small amount can be collected with a lancet to your finger. However, this style of testing wont supply enough to do a comprehensive pane of vitamins and minerals.
If you dont want to go to the lab or doctor, you can also use an in-home test for mineral deficiencies.
And, just like with lab tests, you have several options when looking at home tests for mineral deficiency.
One of the popular options is an at-home hair test. All you have to do is collect a hair sample and ship it to the lab for testing. The results are typically emailed or mailed back to you.
You can also choose from several urine tests. The first requires a specimen taken first thing in the morning. The sample is sent to the lab for analysis and the results are sent back to you.
Its also possible to simply use a dipstick urine test for quick answers. However, these strips arent always the most accurate and often dont test for every vitamin or mineral. Most strips only test a few specific minerals, like sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphate.
Best Labs To Check Magnesium Levels
Red blood cell magnesium This is the best way to measure magnesium levels. In the very rare instance that your doctor orders a magnesium level for you, it will most likely be serum magnesium. This test is practically useless in determining magnesium deficiency unless it is significantly deficient. This is because the body will borrow magnesium stores from other areas of the body, such as the bones and muscles, to maintain a normal serum level.
We believe optimal levels of RBC magnesium are between 50-70 mcg/g or 5-7 mg/dL, depending on the labs reference range.
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What Vitamins And Minerals Do Vegans Lack
Despite some of the benefits of a meatless diet, vegans and vegetarians are at an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Thats because vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. So, it is vital to plan a vegan or vegetarian diet properly to make sure you dont miss out on essential nutrients.
Iron is another nutrient which individuals who follow a meat-free diet can become deficient in, especially women who are already at a greater risk. Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells, particularly for the formation of haemoglobin, the red pigment essential for carrying oxygen to requiring tissues.
Nutrient Testing At Trumed Naturopath Clinic
Our Naturopathic Doctors use advanced nutritional testing for difficult cases of Fatigue, and many other disorders including Fibromyalgia, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s, Celiac Disease, Autism, Hypothyroidism, Athletic performance, Cognitive function, Fertility and Mental Health. Nutrient testing is also appropriate for our healthy Edmonton patients looking to optimize their health. Your Naturopathic Doctor at TruMed will help you decide the most appropriate test for your particular needs.
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Signs You Need To Get A Blood Test For Vitamins And Mineral Deficiencies
There are plenty of symptoms and signs that you may be vitamin or mineral deficient, but it is also important to test for these deficiencies regularly. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are typically a result of lacking specific nutrients in your diet, and therefore this can change rather frequently depending on your lifestyle.
There are different signs and symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency depending on what you are deficient in. Below are a few common deficiencies and their symptoms.
Should I Take Mineral Supplements
Talk to your healthcare practitioner about taking supplements. If you are deficient, supplements may be of benefit to you, but there is no strong evidence to suggest that they benefit the average individual and may, in fact, increase your risk of toxicity. Those who take excess zinc can inhibit their use of copper. People who store excess iron or copper in their bodies must restrict and monitor their intake of these minerals as the buildup can damage tissues and organs.
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