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Is the Lack of Carnitine a Root Cause of Autism?

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Tue, Dec 05, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

autism.jpegAlthough autism likely has more than a singular cause, it is possible that one nutrient deficiency or imbalance can have a significant impact on its development. Recent evidence suggests that carnitine – a relatively under-recognized nutrient among the general public – plays a bigger role in autism than previously thought.

Carnitine’s main function is to transport fatty acids into the cellular powerhouse (mitochondria) for energy. Low carnitine status (common in autism) can impair the ability to use fatty acids for learning and social development.  This recent research hypothesizes that carnitine deficiency may cause symptoms of autism and goes on to suggest that up to 20% of autism cases may be preventable via appropriate supplementation. The author points out that a defect in carnitine biosynthesis is a risk factor for autism, citing the gene (SLC6A14) that limits carnitine utilization in the brain. Expressed only in males, this suggests the reason that autism is more prevalent in boys than in girls. 

For additional information about the micronutrient impact on this this condition, download the Nutrients and Autism flyer here.

For more details on the cited paper, click here for a link to the abstract, “Brain carnitine deficiency causes nonsyndromic autism with an extreme male bias: a hypothesis,” published in the July 2017 issue of Bioassays

Topics: micronutrients, nutrition and autism, micronutrient status, Carnitine Deficiency and Autism, Nutrient Deficiency, Low Carnitine Status

Vitamin B1 and Female Fertility

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Nov 29, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

pregnant.jpegA vitamin B1 deficiency has been shown to compromise egg cell health in female mice. Even though this study was carried out on mice, the implications for human health and fertility are not lost. Scientists were interested in assessing the effect of mild and severe vitamin B1 (thiamin) deficiency on egg cells and what they found was revealing. 

Mice were fed one of two diets: normal or one lacking in vitamin B1. Not surprisingly, the vitamin B1 concentration in the ovaries of mice not given vitamin B1 was much lower than that of mice fed B1. Since the major source of cellular energy in oocytes (immature egg cells) comes from a compound (pyruvic acid) that is metabolized by a vitamin B1-dependent enzyme, researchers wanted to investigate the impact of B1 deficiency on egg cell development. 

If the vitamin B1 deficiency was “mild” (not severe enough to cause weight loss), the mice ovaries produced egg cells that were normal. However, if B1 deficiency reached severe levels, then their ovaries would produce abnormal egg cells more often: 44% of eggs from severely deficient animals were abnormal, compared to only 14% of eggs from mice with adequate B1. Furthermore, once the mice returned to a vitamin B1-containing diet, the level of abnormal egg cells dropped from 44% to 23%, suggesting that egg cell damage may occur as the cell matures but not in its immature stage. 

For more details on the cited paper, click here for a link to the abstract, “Effects of Mild and Severe Vitamin B1 Deficiencies on the Meiotic Maturation of Mice Oocytes,” published in the March 2017 issue of Nutrition and Metabolic Insights.  For a copy of the full paper, click here

Topics: micronutrients, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B1 and Fertility, Female Fertility, Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Vitamin K May Boost Performance in Athletes

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

cyclist-1.jpegVitamin K is often regarded as a nutrient for improving heart health, lowering cancer risk, and increasing bone density, but it also appears to improve fitness even in healthy athletes. Like most nutrients, it seems to have quite versatile roles.

In this small study, 26 trained male and female athletes were administered placebo or vitamin K2 supplements for eight weeks while they maintained their regular exercise routines. At the beginning of the study and after eight weeks, each person completed a fitness test on an exercise machine designed to quantify their physical work load, oxygen consumption, respiratory rate, cardiac output, and heart rate.  

Vitamin K2 supplementation was associated with a 12% increase in cardiac output (volume of blood that the heart is capable of pumping per beat). The authors suggest that vitamin K2, which has previously been shown to play a role in energy metabolism (especially in tissues with high energy requirements such as skeletal muscle and heart) might be considered in healthy athletes to improve performance. 

For more details on the cited paper, click here for a link to the abstract, “Oral Consumption of Vitamin K2 for 8 Weeks Associated With Increased Maximal Cardiac Output During Exercise,” published in the July 2017 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 

Topics: micronutrients, Vitamin K, Nutrition, Nutrition and Sports Performance, Vitamin K and Sports Performance, Vitamin K and Heart Health

Can We Change Our Genetic Expression with Nutrients?

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

DNA Human.jpgRecent evidence suggests that the answer is yes.  Most people understand that we all have inherent genetic predispositions – some as benign as the shape of our nose and others more dangerous such as the tendency toward certain cancers.  However, as research on epigenetics grows, the ability to modulate the expression of certain genes is becoming clearer.  Epigenetics is the study of how our genetic expression is affected by factors other than changes in DNA sequence.  These factors include our environment, including what we eat, supplements we take, toxins, illnesses, even the amount of sunlight to which we are exposed. 

In this study, variations (known by geneticists as polymorphisms) in a specific gene that makes a protein called the zinc transporter 8 (ZNT8), which carries zinc into the hormone insulin, were studied. This protein ZNT8 is responsible for ensuring that pancreatic beta cells (the cells that make insulin which allows us to metabolize blood sugar) have adequate zinc available.  If cells in the pancreas do not have enough zinc, they will not function optimally which may ultimately result in higher risk of insulin resistance and the metabolic dysfunction that follows.  

When participants with the (CC) genotype ingested more zinc and omega 3 fatty acids, they lowered their risk of metabolic syndrome consequences associated with their genotype. Stated differently, people with this specific genotype (CC) responded well (in terms of improved insulin sensitivity and metabolic health) to higher levels of zinc and omega 3 fatty acids, while other genotypes (CT or TT) did not show a meaningful improvement in metabolism.  Since over-supplementation has potentially negative consequences (too much zinc can cause copper deficiency, for example), knowing your genotype may lead to more informed supplementation decisions. 

For more details, click here for a link to the abstract entitled Some dietary factors can modulate the effect of the zinc transporters 8 polymorphism on the risk of metabolic syndrome published in the May 2017 issue of Scientific Reports  (Abstract 2640).  Or read the full paper here.  (Full paper 829)

 

Adapted from July 2017 Clinical Updates.  9/27/2017.  (NLH)

Topics: micronutrients, Epigenetics, Gene Expression, Gene Expression and Nutrition, Genetic Predisposition

One-Third of Americans Have at Least One Micronutrient Deficiency

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 @ 04:03 PM

Using data from the government-sponsored research program National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a group of researchers compiled data on seven vitamins from over 15,000 people in the US. They determined that 31% of the American population is at risk for at least one vitamin deficiency; 23% of Americans are at risk for deficiency in at least two vitamins, and 6% are at risk for three or more vitamin deficiencies.

The data came from a variety of sources: dietary recall, reported supplement use, and lab results – some information less quantifiable than others. Researchers concluded that the most common vitamin deficiency in the United States is vitamin B6, of which a staggering 20% of Americans are deficient. However, scientists concede that biomarkers of nutrient status are affected by inflammation, suggesting that deficiency rates may be even higher. In addition, nutrient status did not correlate with dietary intake (according to their data), which is not surprising given that determining specific deficiencies via dietary intake is notoriously difficult to quantify. Dietary recall is rarely accurate; even if intake is measured with precision (this is difficult to do and therefore unlikely), absorption of said nutrients is an entirely different problem (itself nearly impossible to assess). A review of the available literature supports the view that a one-size-fits-all approach to micronutrient requirements is both outdated and inaccurate.  

The investigators stated that “sub-clinical deficiency symptoms for many vitamins and minerals are non-specific, and may include fatigue, irritability, aches and pains, decreased immune function, and heart palpitations,” all of which further complicate the quantification of micronutrient deficiency. Functional measurement of intracellular micronutrient status may gain attention as studies like this are published.

For details, click HERE for a link to the abstract. Read the full paper HERE.

Topics: Nutrition, micronutrient deficiency, micronutrient status, vitamin B6 deficiency, sub-clinical deficiencies, intracellular micronutrient status

Leptin Resistance: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Aug 09, 2017 @ 02:26 PM

Overeating.jpgLeptin, often called the “satiety hormone,” is an adipokine (signaling molecule produced by fat cells) whose main function is to regulate energy and fat stores. In a metabolically healthy person, a temporary increase in caloric intake (such as after a big meal) corresponds to an increase in leptin production. This prompts the hypothalamus to send signals that promote satiety, which cues one to stop eating.

Leptin was the first adipokine to be discovered (in 1994) and changed how scientists view fat tissue. Fat stores were previously thought to be inert tissue that did not cause any direct harm. Upon the discovery of leptin and its related genes, scientists learned that excess adipose tissue is actually metabolically active, releasing several hormones (adipokines) and inflammatory enzymes. Consequently, it is now considered an endocrine organ.

Although leptin suppresses appetite, one can become leptin resistant, feeling hungry even when one consuming enough calories to maintain metabolic requirements. In a way that is analogous to insulin resistance, leptin resistance occurs in obesity: the higher the fat stores, the more leptin produced. In fact, leptin varies exponentially (as opposed to linearly) with adipose tissue. This means that changes in fat mass profoundly affect leptin levels. Over time, as leptin increasingly circulates in blood, the brain eventually becomes resistant to its effects. As a result, one becomes inclined to overeat, unable to experience satiety and therefore feeling hungry even when leptin levels are high! This is referred to as leptin resistance. 

An increase in leptin (in the short term) follows an increase in caloric intake. This promotes satiety and signals one to stop eating. However, in the long term, a chronic increase in leptin can be attributed to excess body fat, estrogen (endogenous and exogenous), insulin (leptin is released dose-dependently in response to insulin), stress, and some steroid medications such as dexamethasone.

Loss of fat tissue, reduction in caloric intake via dieting and fasting, testosterone (which is anabolic – this increases appetite), and ghrelin (the hunger hormone) are all factors that lower leptin. Sleep deprivation, which upregulates appetite, is a reason why sleep loss is linked to cravings, and also impacts levels.

Factors that impact leptin sensitivity include:

  • Excess body weight
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (this blocks leptin receptors)
  • High Triglyceride levels block leptin’s ability to reach the hypothalamus
  • Estrogen deficiency: the leptin-estrogen link may cause menstrual cravings
  • Lectins in grains bind to leptin receptors, inducing leptin resistance 

Leptin receptors are found in several tissues besides the hypothalamus, including endothelial, muscle, placental, and liver cells. Although its appetite-regulating effects are well established, it is known to play a role in fertility and puberty; however, its other functions are not fully understood.

SpectraCell’s CardioMetabolic test offers a clinically relevant evaluation to help define risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), progression toward Type 2 Diabetes, and inflammation.
Whether you are at high risk of heart disease or managing an existing metabolic condition, SpectraCell’s CardioMetabolic test is appropriate and recommended.

 GET TESTED

Topics: cardiometabolic, Weight Management, Leptin, Leptin Resistance

Vitamin A: Functions and Benefits

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

vit A.jpgVitamin A was one of the earliest vitamins to be discovered – hence its top rank in the alphabetical vitamin nomenclature.Vitamin A is a family of fat soluble compounds that play an important role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, and immune system regulation. Most people associate vitamin A with carrots, and for good reason: the common orange veggie has high amounts of beta-carotene, which is actually a vitamin A precursor and also the reason carrots got their name. But vitamin A is actually a group of chemicals that are similar in structure, and include retinol (the most biologically active form of vitamin A), retinal, and retinoic acid.

β-carotene is slightly different in that it is cleaved in the intestinal mucosa by an enzyme to form retinol. Other carotenoids include lycopene and lutein but, although similar to vitamin A, they are not actually vitamin A in the truest sense. One distinction is that excessive amounts of vitamin A from over-supplementation, can cause toxicity (although deficiency is much more common). On the other hand, β-carotene does not cause vitamin A toxicity because there exists a regulatory mechanism that limits vitamin A production from beta carotene when high levels are ingested.

A large number of physiological systems may be affected by vitamin A deficiency which is most often associated with strict dietary restrictions and excess alcohol intake. Patients with Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and pancreatic disorders are particularly susceptible due to malabsorption.  Vitamin A is also essential for the developing skeletal system and deficiency can result in growth retardation or abnormal bone formation. 

The functions of vitamin A are very diverse:

  • Eyesight: Vitamin A forms retinal, which combines with a protein (rhodopsin) to create the light-absorbing cells in the eye. This explains why a common clinical manifestation of deficiency is night blindness and poor vision.
  • Skin: In addition to promoting healthy skin function and integrity, vitamin A regulates the growth of epithelial surfaces in the eyes and respiratory, intestinal, and urinary tracts. Deficiency impairs epithelial regeneration, which can manifest as skin hyperkeratization, infertility, or increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.
  • Anemia: Vitamin A helps transfer iron to red blood cells for incorporation into hemoglobin; thus, a vitamin A deficiency will exacerbate an iron deficiency.
  • Weight management: Vitamin A reduces the size of fat cells, regulates the genetic expression of leptin (a hormone that suppresses appetite), and enhances the expression of genes that reduce a person’s tendency to store food as fat.
  • Cancer prevention: Vitamin A deficiency impairs the body’s ability to launch cell-mediated immune responses to cancer cells. Vitamin A inhibits squamous metaplasia (a type of skin cancer) and inhibits breast cancer cell growth.
  • Fertility: Vitamin A plays a key role in the synthesis of sperm.
  • Autism: Vitamin A is part of the retinoid receptor protein (G-alpha protein), which is critical for language processing, attention, and sensory perception. Some autistics have a defect in this protein that vitamin A supplementation can modulate.
  • Sleep: Vitamin A deficiency alters brains waves in non-REM sleep, causing sleep to be less restorative.

Vitamin A also interacts with other micronutrients. For example, zinc is required to transport vitamin A into tissues, so a zinc deficiency will limit retinal binding protein (RBP) synthesis and thus limits the body’s ability to use vitamin A stores in the liver. Oleic acid, a fatty acid found in olive oil, facilitates the absorption of vitamin A in the gut.

Find out if you have a vitamin A deficiency, and take steps to correct it, by ordering a micronutrient test today. 

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Topics: micronutrients, Vitamin A, Vitamins, Fertility, Cancer Prevention, Celiac Disease, Supernutrients, Weight Management, Vitamin A Deficiency, Chron's Disease, Anemia, Nutrients, β-carotene

Serum vs. Intracellular Micronutrient Status

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 @ 01:49 PM

Knowing one’s vitamin status can be incredibly empowering when it comes to health. In truth, “vitamin status” is somewhat of a loaded phrase because vitamins, like other micronutrients, exist both outside the cell (extracellular) and inside the cell (intracellular). Vitamin status outside a cell may be considered “within range” or “adequate” by conventional terms (e.g. when measured by standard lab testing), while vitamin status inside the cell – where metabolism actually occurs - may be depleted. Since vitamins function inside cells, extracellular measurements (such as serum testing) can be potentially misleading. Intracellular micronutrient levels, as opposed to what is present outside of cells (where it is not physiologically useful), is more clinically significant.

It is clear that serum micronutrient testing can yield important information. One obvious example is serum vitamin B12; when a person’s level is low, this can manifest as fatigue or anemia. Often, however, serum B12 may appear to be “normal,” but clinical symptoms of fatigue or B12 deficiency still exist. Why? Because serum B12 is a reflection of extracellular B12, whereas the intracellular reserve of B12 is what’s important; it matters little how much of a nutrient is present in one’s blood – if it is not getting into the cell, it won’t improve cellular or overall health. Consider this analogy: imagine being totally dehydrated, overwhelmed with thirst. If you jumped into a pool but could not drink the water, you remain thirsty because the water doesn’t make it into your body. Cells will be similarly starved if B12 doesn’t get assimilated.

So why has intracellular testing not replaced the serum variety? One simple reason is that serum testing has been used for so long that reference ranges are well established and understood, albeit potentially misleading. Another reason is that intracellular testing is more technologically advanced and fewer labs offer it. Finally, serum testing has been useful for detecting serious nutrient deficiencies that have progressed into obvious symptoms. But it is worth noting that intracellular testing helps detect deficiencies long before overt (and sometimes debilitating) symptoms occur –serum levels often fall in the “normal” range when a true intracellular deficiency exists. 

SpectraCell’s micronutrient test is a true intracellular test – NOT a serum measurement. 

For additional information and medical publications supporting intracellular testing over serum tests, click
here.

Find out your intracellular micronutrient status today!

GET TESTED 

Topics: micronutrients, micronutrient testing, Vitamins, micronutrient status, serum vs. intracellular, serum B12

Vital to Victory: Micronutrient Requirements for Athletes

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 @ 01:25 PM

From a nutritional standpoint, the athlete’s focus should include both macronutrients – protein for muscle rebuilding, carbohydrates for energy renewal, fats for nerve function – as well as the critically important micronutrients – which are the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids your body needs to function optimally every day and over a lifetime.

Hear Dr. Grabowski’s take on the role of micronutrients in sports nutrition.

Above all, we are all biochemically unique, and several factors affect our personal micronutrient needs - age, lifestyle, intensity of physical training, prescription drug usage, past and present illness or injuries, absorption rate, genetics and more. The “normal” amount of each micronutrient varies from athlete to athlete, and even in the same athlete depending on circumstances in his or her life.

SpectraCell’s Micronutrient test measures 33 vitamins and minerals in your body, but goes even further – it measures functional, long-term levels within the cell, which means SpectraCell’s micronutrient test not only identifies deficiencies but is also a valuable tool in predicting health concerns before overt symptoms occur. How's that for a test?! 
 
That said, YOU ARE WHAT YOU ABSORB - not just what you eat. Find out whether your supplements are really working and how you can improve your absorption and performance today. To learn more about the role of micronutrients in sports nutrition, click here
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Topics: micronutrients, Muscle recovery, Sports Performance, Nutrition and Sports Performance, Endurance Athletes, Crossfit, Athletic Performance, Sports Nutrition, XFIT, Sports Medicine

Serum vs. Intracellular Micronutrient Status

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Thu, Jun 08, 2017 @ 02:58 PM

cells2-1.jpgKnowing one’s vitamin status can be incredibly empowering when it comes to health. In truth, “vitamin status” is somewhat of a loaded phrase because vitamins, like other micronutrients, exist both outside the cell (extracellular) and inside the cell (intracellular). Vitamin status outside a cell may be considered “within range” or “adequate” by conventional terms (e.g. when measured by standard lab testing), while vitamin status inside the cell – where metabolism actually occurs - may be depleted. Since vitamins function inside cells, extracellular measurements (such as serum testing) can be potentially misleading. Intracellular micronutrient levels, as opposed to what is present outside of cells (where it is not physiologically useful), is more clinically significant.

It is clear that serum micronutrient testing can yield important information. One obvious example is serum vitamin B12; when a person’s level is low, this can manifest as fatigue or anemia. Often, however, serum B12 may appear to be “normal,” but clinical symptoms of fatigue or B12 deficiency still exist. Why? Because serum B12 is a reflection of extracellular B12, whereas the intracellular reserve of B12 is what’s important; it matters little how much of a nutrient is present in one’s blood – if it is not getting into the cell, it won’t improve cellular or overall health. Consider this analogy: imagine being totally dehydrated, overwhelmed with thirst. If you jumped into a pool but could not drink the water, you remain thirsty because the water doesn’t make it into your body. Cells will be similarly starved if B12 doesn’t get assimilated.

So why has intracellular testing not replaced the serum variety? One simple reason is that serum testing has been used for so long that reference ranges are well established and understood, albeit potentially misleading. Another reason is that intracellular testing is more technologically advanced and fewer labs offer it. Finally, serum testing has been useful for detecting serious nutrient deficiencies that have progressed into obvious symptoms. But it is worth noting that intracellular testing helps detect deficiencies long before overt (and sometimes debilitating) symptoms occur –serum levels often fall in the “normal” range when a true intracellular deficiency exists.

SpectraCell’s micronutrient test is a true intracellular test – NOT a serum measurement. Find out your intracellular micronutrient status today!

For additional information and medical publications supporting intracellular testing over serum tests, click HERE.


 

Topics: micronutrients, micronutrient testing, Intracellular Analysis, micronutrient status, Serum Testing, Vitamin Status, extracellular vs. intracellular, integrative medicine, precision medicine