Have you ever wondered about the accuracy of micronutrient testing?
You know, the laboratory tests that evaluate a patient’s vitamin and mineral status.
They sound incredible, but are they too good to be true?
We investigated the accuracy of micronutrient testing and found some interesting information.
In this article, we're going to focus on what we found on one of the more well-studied and popular micronutrients in the Functional and Nutritional Medicine industry - magnesium.
But first, let’s cover some basics.
Quite simply, the word micronutrient refers to all the vitamins and minerals necessary for the human body to function properly. Everything from all the B-vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamins D, E, and K, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, selenium, molybdenum, and even boron. Each of those is a micronutrient. Micro means small, and nutrient is something needed by the body for growth, repair, or metabolism.
Micronutrients are critical for the optimal health of every single cell in the body. Many practitioners talk about the importance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, but fail to mention that, using carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in the body requires micronutrients.
In other words, without optimal levels of micronutrients, nothing works properly.
Our cells cannot make energy properly, we can’t detoxify or get rid of wastes properly, our brain won’t make neurotransmitters properly, hormones won’t work properly – micronutrients are the unsung hero in biochemistry, physiology, and overall wellness.
Given the importance of micronutrients, laboratory tests have been developed to identify if someone is low in one, or a number of, micronutrients. After all, given the fundamental importance of micronutrients, if someone is low in a number of vitamins and minerals, identifying and correcting those deficiencies will likely do wonders for their health.
Unfortunately, there is no one way to test for all micronutrients at one time or in one tissue.
I know, bummer, right?
The truth is, some are better tested in the hair, some in blood, some in urine, some in cells, etc.
But, in terms of a single, comprehensive test, that accurately identifies a patient's micronutrient deficiencies - so that you know exactly what vitamins to give them - sorry, it does not exist.
To take a better look at the different ways of testing for micronutrient deficiencies, and how accurate they may be, let’s take a look at one of the most popular micronutrients in the Functional and Nutritional Medicine industry – magnesium.
There are a variety of ways that have been used to evaluate magnesium status in humans. Here is a list of the most common ones:
Each of these has been used in the scientific literature to evaluate human magnesium status, with very conflicting results.
There are two tests that have been cited as the “gold standard” for evaluating magnesium status.
Standard laboratory tests for magnesium are not accurate.
Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Beyond that, even skeletal muscle biopsy, which is considered to be one of the gold standard tests for magnesium deficiency, does not accurately reflect someone's magnesium status in every tissue of the body, such as the brain or heart.
There's good news and bad news.
The bad news is, testing magnesium status using laboratory testing methods is not accurate or reliable, nor is it a good way of determining whether or not a patient needs magnesium.
The good news is there are evidence-based alternatives.
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