One of the main changes is doing zinc now in plasma rather than white or red blood cell. Four of the labs have said the same thing: that their tests suggest plasma methods are now good enough to find zinc levels effectively and that this method has overtaken red blood cell methods.
I have still kept the red blood cell Doctors’ Data Minerals 1 test because some of you may need it for comparison purposes and it’s a good test anyway. But, from now on my main mineral test recommendation will be the Toxic & Essential Elements in blood from Genova. Why? Because, rather cleverly in my view, they measure the different minerals in different ways according to which method is most effective for each mineral. Clever.
I’ve summarised my recommendations for you in an updated Nutrient Testing FAQ. Here’s the general gist:
Nutrient Tests Overview
This blog post might help generally: Which Lab Tests Are Best?
This is a really complex field and you would think it would be so easy! The fact is that different nutrients are best tested in different ways. However, there are some good all-rounders.
There are basically two main ways of testing nutrients: functional testing using amino acid analysis and metabolic testing to find functional issues with nutrient use in the body OR testing actual levels in blood, urine or hair etc. Nutreval below does both. I am often asked to choose between the different methods. Put simply: I can’t. It is like comparing apples with eggs, or something like that! They do completely different things, but both will give you an idea of where nutrient levels might be an issue.
I rate the Nutreval and the ONE Test, which is a smaller version of the Nutreval, but often gives people a good indication of what’s going on. I like these particularly because they give you a suggested supplement level protocol based on your results – people find that useful! Check the sample reports on the test pages and see what you get with each one. In effect, Nutreval includes body level testing as well as functional testing, extra antioxidants and fatty acids on top of everything you get in the ONE test.
Body Level Tests
This is quite complex and there seem to be dozens of ways of looking for nutrient levels. To make life even more complicated, different tests are best for different minerals.
My main recommendation nowadays for minerals is Genova’s Toxic & Essential Elements Blood Test because it measures the different minerals in the different ways, which I think is rather clever of them. (Incidentally, you can do this via Urine too but I think blood is better myself for the main minerals; this one might be useful if on a chelation programme though eg, for toxic metals).
I would combine the Elements blood test with the Vitamin Profile and Vitamin D status for a comprehensive look at nutrient levels, maybe adding the Anaemia Profile and Essential Fatty Acid Balance too if necessary (ie. fatigue, inflammation, pain, neurological issues present).
As an all-rounder and particularly good at assessing antioxidant status, Spectracell is a cutting edge test using intracellular white blood testing. I have had good results with it.
You can also use hair testing, but I find that best for looking at the heavy metals (see below) and for the mineral ratios eg. of zinc and copper or calcium and magnesium, for example.
I told you this was complex! If in doubt, go for an overall test – either the ONE, Nutreval or Spectracell OR the Toxic & Essential Elements (blood), Vitamin Profile and Vitamin D. Add things like Anaemia or Fatty Acid levels as needed.
On the page, I have also included a summary of toxic metal testing eg. for mercury etc.
Hope that helps with this complex testing field!