Benchmarking Your Functional Nutritional Levels

Posted by admin May 24th, 2009

Why do a Functional Intracellular Analysis (FIA)

A functional deficiency encompasses any of the factors that reduce the efficacy of a nutrient. Thus, a given nutrient may be present, but it may not be properly activated, appropriately localized or have sufficient cofactors to function at a normal level of activity. No matter what the cause, the result will be a defect in the biochemical pathways that depend upon that nutrient for optimal function. A deficient or defective pathway may operate at a sub-optimal level for many months, or even years, before a clinical symptom becomes apparent.

Nutrient status is a vital foundation of health. Each micronutrient plays an indispensable role in promoting optimal cell function. When some cells do not function at their best, the foundation of our health is compromised, setting the stage for the development of disease. Identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies is an important step in the long-term maintenance of optimal health.

Vitamin deficiencies aren’t just a reflection of diet. Since we are all biochemically unique, nutrient deficiencies will vary from patient to patient, and do not necessarily correlate directly with nutrient intake, even among those with similar health conditions. Many factors beyond diet determine whether nutrient function is adequate. These include biochemical individuality, genetic predisposition, absorption and metabolism, age, disease conditions and medications.

Lymphocytes are used for analysis

Most lymphocytes obtained by venipuncture are in a resting state in terms of cell division. Since they have a 4 to 6 month lifespan, the nutrient levels accumulated in these lymphocytes represent a history of an individual’s nutrient status. This situation is analogous to using HbA1c measurements to approximate a diabetic person’s glucose levels over the months preceding a test. Thus, lymphocytes provide a history rather than a snapshot of nutrient intake.

Resting lymphocytes can be stimulated by a lymphocyte-specific mitogen to undergo cell division and grow in culture. The degree of growth that the lymphocytes can maintain is directly related to the nutrients they have available. Thus, MicroNutrient Testing provides a functional intracellular assessment of nutrient status accumulated in human lymphocytes over their resting lifespan.


Blood is collected (no fasting is required) and sent to our laboratory. Lymphocyte cells are isolated and grown in a series of patented culture media. The cells are stimulated to grow in the control media containing optimal amounts of specific micronutrients. As each micronutrient is removed from the media, the cells must use their own internal mechanisms (reserves or metabolic processes) to grow. If cells grow optimally, they are functioning adequately and thus are not deficient. If cells do not grow optimally, then a deficiency is indicated. For example, when B12 is removed from the media and cell growth is not sufficient, this indicates that the lymphocyte cells have a functional intracellular deficiency of B12.

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