SpectraCell Blog

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
GET TESTED


 

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

The Role of Micronutrient Deficiencies in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Fri, May 05, 2017 @ 11:27 AM

ADHD.jpgAttention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become an increasingly prevalent condition, afflicting children, adolescents, and adults. Some hallmarks of this brain disorder include an inability to focus and/ or a failure to see projects/ activities to completion. Unbeknownst to most, ADHD can be exacerbated by micronutrient deficiencies. Evidence of the relationship between micronutrient status and ADHD-associated behaviors is compelling; the list below represents some examples of the micronutrient status-ADHD connection: 

Vitamin B6: Evidence suggests that high-dose supplementation of B6 is as effective as Ritalin for ADHD, probably due to its role in raising serotonin levels.

Folate (AKA Vitamin B9): Low maternal folate status during pregnancy has been linked to hyperactivity in children. Persons with the MTHFR (methyl tetrahydrafolate reductase) polymorphism are predisposed to folate deficiency, and are more likely to have ADHD.

Magnesium: A deficiency in this micronutrient is linked to poor functioning of the neurotransmitters that control emotion, social reactions, hyperactivity, and attention. Magnesium has a synergistic effect with vitamin B6.

Zinc: This nutrient is a cofactor required for the synthesis of dopamine, which impacts mood and concentration. Low zinc depresses both melatonin and serotonin production; this affects behavior and one’s ability to process information.

Carnitine: Reduces hyperactivity and improves social behavior in people with ADHD via its role in fatty acid metabolism. Some consider carnitine a safe alternative to stimulant drugs.

Serine: Administration of phosphatidylserine in conjunction with omega-3 fatty acids improved ADHD symptoms (attention scores) significantly more than omega-3 fatty acids alone, suggesting a synergistic effect. Phosphatidylserine increases dopamine levels.

Glutamine: A precursor to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), the calming neurotransmitter that affects mood, focus, and hyperactivity. Disruption of glutamine-containing neurotransmission systems may cause ADHD. 

Choline: A precursor to acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that regulates memory, focus, and muscle control (hyperactivity). 

Antioxidant status: Oxidative imbalance is prevalent in ADHD patients and likely plays a causative role. Glutathione, a very potent antioxidant, is commonly deficient in ADHD.

To evaluate your micronutrient status, order your micronutrient test today!

For a copy of SpectraCell's nutrient correlation wheel on ADHD, click here.

 

Topics: micronutrients, Nutrition, ADHD, micronutrient deficiencies in ADHD, mental health in children, micronutrient status

The Role of Micronutrient Testing in Conjunction with Standard Lab Tests by Ron Grabowski, DC, RD

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 @ 03:40 PM

Listen to Dr. Grabowski’s take on uncovering nutrient deficiencies to help explain the results of commonly ordered panels. 

 



 

Topics: micronutrients, micronutrient testing, nutrient deficiencies, standard lab testing

Nutrient Interactions: An Important Consideration of Intracellular Analysis

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Apr 05, 2017 @ 02:54 PM

Hear Dr. Grabowski’s take on the value of intracellular micronutrient testing, and how nutrient-nutrient interactions are a critical component in designing an effective therapeutic supplementation plan. 

 

 


 

Topics: micronutrients, Intracellular Analysis, Nutrient Interactions, Supplmentation

Feeling Fabulous or Fatigued?  (Hint – it’s all in your cells!)

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Mar 29, 2017 @ 12:30 PM

healthy woman.jpgCellular health – whether referring to brain cells, bone cells, or fat cells – impacts the health of the entire body. Health issues may arise and manifest differently for each person depending on one’s unique biochemistry. Some common examples of these manifestations include excess weight, headaches, and dry skin, driven by poor cellular metabolism. Quite literally, health and wellness begin at the cellular level. 

A paradigm shift in women’s healthcare is happening right now.  You may have noticed that much of the focus in medicine today has shifted from disease to prevention; however, what we commonly think of as “preventive” medicine (mammograms, PAP smears) is actually pre-symptomatic screening for earlier disease detection and diagnosis.  Prevention can be facilitated by the optimal nourishment of cells with micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants), as these fuel the cell and are involved in hundreds of metabolic reactions and physiological process. Some of these include detoxification, energy production, neurotransmitter balance, sleep quality, cognition, and immunity. Therefore, micronutrients profoundly affect mood, skin, hormone balance – every organ, endocrine, and body system is impacted. In fact, the nutrient-hormone connection is huge.  Did you know that many female cancers – breast, uterine, ovarian – may occur when estrogen is metabolized into toxic by-products that are not eliminated? To keep estrogen metabolism in the body safe, women are encouraged to focus on these micronutrients:

  • Magnesium activates the enzyme that removes toxic forms of estrogen.
  • Vitamin B6 protects genes from estrogen-induced damage.
  • Vitamin B3 increases adiponectin, a weight loss hormone.
  • Vitamin A regulates leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite.
  • Cysteine prevents toxins in breast tissue from becoming cancerous.

These nutrients and dozens others behave like hormonal housekeepers, and lacking even one of these can set the stage for compromised health: vitamin deficiency can manifest as fairly benign conditions (lack of energy or poor sleep), or more serious illness (allowing the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells to grow and invade healthy tissue).

Because we are all biochemically unique, micronutrient deficiencies may lead to different symptoms in different women. Find out yours, and take steps to correct them, by taking your micronutrient test today.

GET TESTED


 

Topics: micronutrients, vitamin deficiencies, intracellular, Women's Health, Cellular Health, nutrient deficiencies, estrogen metabolism, Nutrient-Hormone Connection

Vitamin A Deficiency in Utero May Increase Risk of Alzheimer's Later in Life

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Mon, Mar 27, 2017 @ 12:26 PM

old man.jpgIn this provocative mouse study, researchers demonstrated that marginal vitamin A deficiency in utero may have large implications on cognitive function later in life, particularly in the development of Alzheimer's disease. It revealed that vitamin A deficiency increases the potential for amyloid beta to form in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid beta is a type of protein that forms tangles in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, eventually leading to plaque formation and ultimately manifesting as major cognitive dysfunction and severe memory loss.

Specifically, amyloid precursor protein (generally benign when it stays intact) becomes amyloid beta when it is acted upon by a special enzyme that cleaves it. Vitamin A deficiency increases the activity of this enzyme, thus increasing the production of amyloid beta in the brain. When therapeutic doses of vitamin A was administered to mice, memory was restored, suggesting that “vitamin A supplementation might be a potential approach for Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment.” 

DOWNLOAD ABSTRACT


 

Topics: micronutrients, Vitamin A, Vitamin A and Alzheimer's, Vitamin A Deficiency, Alzheimer's Disease

Study Sheds Light on How Omega-3 fatty Acids Minimize Cellular Aging

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 @ 12:52 PM

omega3-foods-720x480.jpgThe role of omega-3 fatty acids in health has been well established, and new research helps explain the association. In a recent study, mice given fish oil containing high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA) demonstrated the activation of several cellular “protections:” (1) the activity of protective enzymes in the liver and heart tissue increased significantly; (2) oxidative stress (as measured by F2-isoprostanes) and damage to sensitive brain tissue (cerebral lipid peroxidation) were dramatically decreased; (3) telomere shortening in the liver and testes was reduced; and (4) DHA helped prevent the expression of cancer-causing genes. Researchers suggest communication that links oxidative stress, telomeres, and cancer genes into what they call a “redox-telomere-antioncogene axis.”

DOWNLOAD ABSTRACT


 

Topics: micronutrients, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Omega-3 and Aging