Balanced Body Labs™ is now offering a test for vitamin levels through a dry blood spot (DBS) test. With a DBS test, a simple finger stick blood test will do the trick. Our vitamin DBS test is considered a therapeutic drug monitoring/toxicological test associated with vitamins supplementation. It’s important to stay up to date regarding nutrition facts. Our resources below can help you understand the various vitamins that our DBS is able to test.

Vitamins

Vitamins play essential roles to human’s health by acting as coenzymes and precursors of coenzymes in the regulation of metabolic processes. They must be obtained through the diet because they either are not synthesized in the body or are not synthesized in adequate amounts. Depleted levels of vitamins can lead to life threatening conditions and seriously limit the body’s ability to fight off infection and disease. Vitamin and nutrition dry blood spots tests can detect vitamin deficiencies, indicating which vitamins you lack and which you are getting enough of through natural sources. The vitamin DBS test is a cheap and convenient way to take control of your health.

List of what’s measured in our vitamin DBS test:

Vitamin A (Retinol)

Function: Vitamin A is involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication. It is critical for vision as an essential component of rhodopsin, a protein that absorbs light in the retinal receptors (1).

Deficiency: Vitamin A deficiency are common in people with fat malabsorption (e.g., celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, pancreatic disorders). Iron and zinc deficiency can also affect vitamin A metabolism and transport of vitamin A stores from the liver to body tissues (2). Prominent signs of vitamin A deficiency include night blindness, corneal thinning, and conjunctival metaplasia.

Toxicity: Chronic intakes of excess vitamin A lead to increased intracranial pressure (pseudotumor cerebri), dizziness, nausea, headaches, skin irritation, pain in joints and bones, coma, and even death. Daily intakes of > 25 000 IU for > 6 y and > 100,000 IU for > 6 mo are considered toxic, but there is wide interindividual variability for the lowest intake required to elicit toxicity (3). Children are particularly sensitive to vitamin A.

Food Sources:  Vegetables, fruits, meats, and animal products; fish-liver oils, liver, egg yolks, butter, and cream

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): Adult male: 0.9mg/day; adult female: 0.7mg/day

Blood Reference Range: 500-2000ng/ml

What We Test: Vitamin A (Retinol)

B Complex Vitamins

B vitamins are coenzymes involved in body energy production by helping the body metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins. All B vitamins are water soluble, therefore, the body does not store them. You have to get sufficient B vitamins from varying food sources (4).

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Function: The biologically active form of thiamine is thiamine pyrophosphate. It acts as a coenzyme in carbohydrate metabolism. It also takes part in the formation of glucose by acting as a coenzyme for the transketolase in the pentose monophosphate pathway.

Deficiency: B1 deficiency is also called beriberi. The symptoms include: swelling, tingling, or burning sensation in the hands and feet; confusion; trouble breathing because of fluid in the lungs; uncontrolled eye movements.

Food Sources: Whole grains, meat/fish/poultry/eggs, milk and milk products, vegetables (i.e. green, leafy vegetables; beets; potatoes), legumes (i.e. lentils, soybeans, nuts, seeds), orange and tomato juices

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): Adult 1.1 mg/day

Blood Reference Range: 2.4-9ng/ml

What We Test: B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Function: B2 is a coenzyme involved in energy production and is required for the metabolism of other B vitamins.

Deficiency: B2 deficiency also called ariboflavinosis.  It’s common in those with alcoholism, malabsorption, liver disease, and in the elderly. Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include: sore throat, redness and swelling of the lining of the mouth and throat, cracks or sores on the outsides of the lips (cheliosis) and at the corners of the mouth (angular stomatitis), inflammation and redness of the tongue (magenta tongue), and a moist, scaly skin inflammation (seborrheic dermatitis).

Food Sources: Cereals and whole grains, green leafy vegetables, lean meats, dairy products, eggs, enriched breads

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): 1.1mg/day

Blood Reference Range: 1-19 ng/ml

What We Test: B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B3 (Nicotinic Acid, Nicotinamide)

Function: B3 is involved in enzyme reactions, metabolism, and energy production.

Deficiency: Low protein diet,  alcoholism, cirrhosis, Hartnup disease, Crohn disease, and carcinoid syndrome can cause severe B3 deficiency. The classic symptoms are dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia.

Food Sources: Lean meats, eggs, fish, whole grain cereals and legumes

Toxicity: Pharmacologic doses can cause flushing and headaches. High doses may affect liver.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): Age 14 and older: 16 mg/day

Blood Reference Range: 1970-8986 ng/ml

What We Test: Nicotinic acid and Nicotinamide

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

Function: B5 helps break down and use fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Food Sources: Most foods

Deficiency: B5 deficiency is rare, as it is widely distributed in foods. Deficiency is associated with “burning feet” and impaired wound healing.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): Adult: 5mg

Blood Reference Range: 344-583 ng/ml

What We Test: B5 (Pantothenic acid)

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Function: B6 is a coenzyme involved in amino acid metabolism and hemoglobin synthesis. It is also necessary for the nervous system and immune system.

Food Sources: Pork, fish, chicken, bananas, wheat germ, legumes

Deficiency: B6 deficiency is rare by itself. It may be paired with chronic alcoholism, malabsorption, smoking, and in asthmatics who take theophylline. The symptoms could be convulsions and decreased immunity.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA): 1.3 mg

Blood Reference Range: 2.4-36 ng/ml

What We Test: B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Function: B7 is a coenzyme that is necessary for fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism. It also plays a role in hormone production.

Food Sources: Soy, egg yolks, peanuts, legumes, bananas, and grapefruit. B7 is also made by intestinal bacteria.

Deficiency: Very rare; May occur in those receiving total parenteral nutrition and with some inborn errors of metabolism; Can cause weakness, delayed development, rash, hair loss, weakness. Blood levels less than 0.05ng/ml indicate deficiency.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): There is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) established for biotin

Blood Reference Range: 0.122-2.4ng/ml

What We Test: B7 (Biotin)

Vitamin B9 (Folate)

Function: B9 is crucial for proper growth of  infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy. It also works closely with vitamin B6 and B12 to help iron work properly in the body and to control blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine.

Food Sources: All grain and cereal products, beans, spinach, etc.

Deficiency: Folate deficiency is fairly common. Alcoholism, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and celiac disease can cause folate deficiency. Common deficiency symptoms include: poor growth, tongue inflammation, gingivitis, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, diarrhea, Irritability, forgetfulness, and mental sluggishness.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): 400 µg per day of dietary folate equivalents (DFEs).

Blood Reference Range: 45-406ng/ml

What We Test: B9 (Folate)

Vitamin B12

Function: Vitamin B12 plays an important role in maintaining healthy nerve cells for the body. Vitamin B12 works in conjunction with vitamin B9 to create red blood cells and maintain normal immune function and mood.

Deficiency: Vitamin B12 deficiency mostly occurs among older people. Low levels of B12 can cause a range of symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nervousness, numbness, tingling sensation in the fingers and toes, etc. A blood level of Methylmalonic Acid higher than 66ng/ml indicates B12 deficiency.

Food Sources: Seafood, liver, pork, beef, chicken and poultry, fortified soy milk dairy, such as: milk, yogurt and cheese, vitamin supplements

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): 2.4 µg per day

Blood Reference Range: (Methylmalonic Acid): 9.4-66 ng/ml

What We Test: Methylmalonic Acid

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Function: Vitamin C is an important antioxidant in the body. It helps repair the body tissues, maintain cartilage, bones and teeth, heal wounds and form scar tissue, and aids in making skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels (5).

Deficiency: Vitamin C deficiency will impair the ability to fight infection and heal wounds. Common symptoms include: anemia, scurvy, gingivitis dry, rough skin, Inflamed joints, etc.

Food Sources: Fruit and vegetable sources such as: broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple, citrus fruits and juices, green and red bell peppers, spinach, cabbage, leafy greens, kiwi fruit and mangoes

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): 60mg

Blood Reference Range: 1692-18140 ng/ml

What We Test: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in human body (DeLuca 1984). Therefore, the common way to see what your vitamin D level is through DBS test called a 25-hydroxy vitamin D2 and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 test.

Function: Vitamin D is essential for bone growth and remodeling. It promotes the absorption and maintain of calcium to enable normal mineralization of bone and to prevent hypocalcemic tetany. Vitamin D has other roles in the body, including modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation (6).

Deficiency: Vitamin D deficiency in adults leads to a mineralization defect in the skeleton, causing osteomalacia, and induces secondary hyperparathyroidism with consequent bone loss and osteoporosis.

Food Source: Fortified milk products, breakfast cereals and orange juice

Toxicity: High intakes of dietary supplements containing vitamin D could lead to toxicity.  Vitamin D toxicity can raise blood levels of calcium which leads to vascular and tissue calcification, with subsequent damage to the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys (2).

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): 15ug/day

Reference Range: 17-57 ng/ml

What We Test:  25-Hydroxyvitamin D2 and 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3

Vitamin E

Function: Vitamin E naturally exists in eight forms with the α-tocopherol being the only form that is recognized to meet human requirements. Vitamin E is a fat-soluable vitamin and antioxidant that has a wide spectrum of health uses. It protects cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. It involved in immune function, cell signaling, regulation of gene expression, and other metabolic processes (7).

Deficient: Vitamin E deficiency is rare. The deficiency may can lead to hemolytic anemia, neurologic deficits, and impaired immune system response.

Food Sources: Vegetable/plant oils, poultry, margarine, fish, meat, tofu, spinach, almonds, eggs, shrimp, avocados

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): Adult 15mg

Reference Range: 5000-34800ng/ml

What We Test: α-tocopherol and γ-tocopherol

Vitamin Level Interpretation

Low levels of vitamins reflect malabsorption states, poor nutritional status, or inadequate oral intake, while high levels suggest excessive intake or absorption issues.

Chromium Picolinate

Chromium picolinate (CrPic) is a widely used nutritional supplement for optimal insulin function and slimming aids in the USA under the brand name Chromax (9). Studies on trial subjects with diabetes using CrPic supplementation have demonstrated beneficial effects and a relationship among Cr status, diabetes, and associated pathologies has been established(10).
Chromium is an “essential trace element” because very small amounts of chromium are necessary for human health. There are two forms of chromium: trivalent chromium and hexavalent chromium. The first has a role in maintaining proper carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in mammals. Trivalent chromium is found naturally in foods, but the supplement is absorbed better than dietary chromium. Chromax as a nutrient supplement at a maximum use level of 2.4 mg of Chromax per product serving is considered safe for its intended use(11).

Hormones

Hormones are chemical substances produced in the body. They control and regulate the activity of certain cells and organs. Hormones are essential for every activity of life, including the process of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood control. Testosterone and cortisol hormone levels, have been used as markers for training intensity and recovery for many years now.

Testosterone

Effects: Testosterone is a steroid hormone and is essential for health and well-being, and for the prevention of osteoporosis. Ascorbic Acid also assists in the formation and release of steroid hormones, including the anabolic hormone testosterone.  It promotes the growth of tissues and attention, memory, and spatial ability are key cognitive functions affected by testosterone.

Where Found: Testosterone is secreted primarily by the testicles of males and, to a lesser extent, the ovaries of females. Small amounts are also secreted by the adrenal glands. Testosterone is used as a form of doping among athletes in order to improve performance. Testosterone is classified as an anabolic agent

Symptoms: Increased testosterone levels may be caused by weight loss, vitamin D in levels of 400–1000 IU/d (10–25 µg/d) and resistance training.  Low testosterone levels may be caused by Zinc deficiency, vitamin A deficiency, and aging. Licorice can decrease the production of testosterone and this effect is greater in females. Low testosterone causes a decrease in muscle mass, and an increase in body fat, lower sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed feelings, and fragile bones.

Cortisol

Effects: Cortisol is a steroid hormone, in the glucocorticoid class of hormones, and is produced in humans by the adrenal gland. It is released in response to stress and low blood glucose concentration. Cortisol may lessen the sensation of stress. It functions to increase blood sugar, to suppress the immune system, and to aid in the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates. It also decreases bone formation

Where Found: The primary control of cortisol is the pituitary gland peptide. Cortisol is a life sustaining adrenal hormone essential to the maintenance of homeostasis. Called “the stress hormone,” cortisol influences, regulates or modulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress including blood sugar (glucose) levels.

Symptoms: Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol and the stress response have known deleterious effects on the immune system. High levels of perceived stress and increases in cortisol have been found to lengthen wound healing time. Cortisol has many functions. It helps the body use sugar (glucose) and fat for energy (metabolism) and it helps the body manage stress. Cortisol levels can be affected by many conditions, such as physical or emotional stress, strenuous activity, infection, or injury.

Testosterone : Cortisol Ratio

Cortisol is a stress hormone, therefore increasing during exercise by acting upon the catecholamines. An increased cortisol level has an contrary effect on testosterone levels, and a low testosterone to cortisol (T:C) ratio has been shown to have contrary effects on an athletes performance This indicator may allow athletes to alter their sleeping or dietary habits in order to better prepare themselves for training

Amino Acids

Effects: Amino acids are components of proteins, which is the major functional and structural blocks of all the cells of the body. Amino acids act as precursors for many coenzymes, hormones, nucleic acids, and other important molecules. They play a vital role in metabolism, immune function and maintaining a healthy nervous system(8). Amino acids have been traditionally classified as essential and nonessential. The essential amino acids are those that cannot be synthesized to meet the body’s needs, and therefore must be obtained from the diet. The nonessential amino acids can be synthesized in the body. Some amino acids are semi-essential because their synthesis can be limited under special pathophysiological conditions

Where Found: Lean Meat, Poultry and Seafood, Eggs and Diary, Peas, Quinoa, Tofu, Soybeans, Beans, Nuts

Symptoms:  Elevation of one or more amino acids may be diagnostic of an aminoacidopathy. Elevated amino acid levels are also associated with non inherited diseases such as severe liver disease and renal tubular disorders. Decreased levels of amino acids are associated with malnutrition as seen in the elderly or those with poor protein intake or gastrointestinal disease.

Carnitine

Effects: L-Carnitine is an amino acid that helps the body produce energy, It is needed for the conversion of fat to energy. It is important for heart and brain function, muscle movement, and all muscle cells, including those of the heart. For the constantly pumping heart muscle, Carnitine is one of the most critical “cell fuels” and also benefits the electrical cells of the heart, and its supplementation has been shown to help normalize different forms of irregular heartbeat.

Where Found: Meat, fish, dairy, poultry, soybeans, asparagus and peanut butter

Symptoms: L-Carnitine deficiency may cause muscle necrosis, myoglobinuria, lipid-storage myopathy, hypoglycemia, fatty liver, and hyperammonemia with muscle aches, fatigue, confusion, and cardiomyopathy. It is one of a group of metabolic muscle diseases that interferes with the processing of food (in this case, fats) for energy production.

Alanine

Effects: L-Alanine is an amino acid that helps the body convert the simple sugar glucose into energy and eliminate excess toxins from the liver. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are key to building strong, healthy muscles. It has been shown to help protect cells from being damaged during intense aerobic activity, when the body cannibalizes muscle protein to help produce energy. Alanine plays a key role in maintaining glucose levels and thus energy supplies in the body.

Where Found: Meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and fish

Symptoms: Low levels of alanine have been found in patients with hypoglycemia, diabetes, and hepatitis—it is not known at this time if alanine deficiency is the cause or result of these diseases. The body must have alanine to process the B vitamins so necessary for good health, especially vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). Alanine is crucial for preserving balanced levels of nitrogen and glucose in the body.

Glutamine

Effects: L-Glutamine’s major function is that it serves as “fuel” for the brain. It is the only compound besides glucose (blood sugar) which can be used by the brain for energy. Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are key to building strong, healthy muscles. Glutamine is produced in the muscles and is distributed by the blood to the organs. Glutamine is needed to make other chemicals in the body such as other amino acids and glucose (sugar).

Where Found: Meat, poultry, fish and seafood

Symptoms: Sluggish behavior, decreased energy levels and feeling ill often are signs of L-Glutamine deficiency. If one undergoes large amounts of stress, trauma, or biological changes, this causes the body to use more of this substance than is stored within your cells. It is the most important supplier of energy to the immune and intestinal cells. Low levels of L-Glutamine can impact the gastrointestinal system. The body undergoes stress during intense exercise, so it may require higher levels of glutamine. If the body cannot keep up, the athlete may experience fatigue and poor performance.

Lactic Acid

Effects: Lactic acid levels increase during strenuous exercise or other situations when glucose is broken down and oxidized, such as heart failure. When the oxygen level in the body is normal, carbohydrates break down into water and carbon dioxide. When the oxygen level is low (hypoxia), carbohydrates break down for energy and makes lactic acid or lactate.

Where Found: Lactic acid is a product of cell metabolism that can accumulate when cells lack sufficient oxygen (hypoxia) and must turn to a less efficient means of energy production, or when a condition causes excess production or impaired clearance of lactate.

Symptoms: Lactic acid levels can get higher when the liver is severely damaged or diseased, because the liver normally breaks down lactic acid, which can produce hydrogen ions and a burning sensation in muscles. Increasing the acidic environment in our muscles causes muscle fatigue and failure. During endurance-type exercise, the depletion of muscle glycogen causes fatigue. In such conditions, lactate may serve as an energy source. Better performance is often related to lactate clearance from the blood.

L-Valine, L-Leucine and L-Isoleucine (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)

Effects: Branched-chain amino acids stimulate the building of protein in muscle and possibly reduce muscle breakdown. “Branched-chain” refers to the chemical structure of these amino acids. Athletes use branched-chain amino acids to improve exercise performance and reduce protein and muscle breakdown during intense exercise and to aid recovery after a workout. Athletes also benefit from prolonged mental and physical stamina as well as a decrease in exercise-induced muscle breakdown and inflammation.

Where Found: Dairy products, grains, meat, mushrooms, legumes, peanuts, and soy protein

Symptoms: People with low dietary protein intake, such as vegans and vegetarians, can suffer from branched-chain amino acid deficiency. The deficiency can cause fatigue and poor exercise performance in athletes, poor concentration, poor appetite in elderly, and kidney failure. Branched-chain amino acids are used to help slow muscle wasting in people who are confined to bed.

Fatty Acids

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are two major classes of essential polyunsaturated long chain fatty acids (PUFA) obtained primarily from dietary sources. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in blood strongly influences cardiovascular risk factors. Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids (1). Monitor Omega-3 and omega-6 levels in blood can help health care providers determine fatty acid-associated risk for cardiovascular events. American Clinical Solutions is now offering fatty acid test for monitoring omega-3 and omega-6 in human dry blood spot (DBS) samples.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The four major omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Lower serum concentrations of omega-3 has been associated with greater risk of cardiovascular diseases such as nonfatal myocardial infarction, stroke, etc (2)(3). Omega-3 fatty acids present antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, among others.

Food Sources: Flaxseed oil, salmon, herring

Adequate Intakes (AIs) for Omega-3: Adult male: 1.6mg; Adult female: 1.1mg

Alpha-Linolenic Acid

Effects: Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. It is called “essential” because it is needed for normal human growth and development. It is popular for preventing and treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Alpha-linolenic acid is thought to decrease the risk of heart disease by helping to maintain normal heart rhythm and heart pumping. It might also reduce blood clots. Although alpha-linolenic acid seems to benefit the cardiovascular system and might reduce the risk of heart disease, research to date does not show it has a significant effect on cholesterol levels.

Where Found: Nuts, vegetable oils, canola (rapeseed) oil, soybean oil, red meat and dairy products

Symptoms: The human body is capable of producing all fatty acids needed, except for two: linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. These have to be consumed from the diet and are therefore termed “essential fatty acids”. Both of these fatty acids are needed for growth and repair, but can also be used to make other fatty acids (e.g. arachidonic acid formed from linoleic acid)

Docosahexaenoic Acid

Effects: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a fatty acid found in fish oil. DHA can be converted into eicosapentaenoic acid in the body. DHA plays a key role in the development of eye and nerve tissues. DHA may also reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease by decreasing the thickness of the blood and lowering blood levels of triglycerides.

Where Found: Meat of cold-water fish, including mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber, and seal blubber.

Symptoms: DHA is used as a supplement for premature babies and as an ingredient in baby formula during the first four months of life to promote better mental development. This practice probably started because DHA is found naturally in breast milk. DHA is also used in combination with arachidonic acid during the first four to six months of life for this purpose. DHA is used in combination with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) for a variety of conditions, including the prevention and reversal of heart disease, stabilizing heart rhythm, asthma, cancer, painful menstrual periods, hayfever, lung diseases, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and certain kidney diseases. EPA and DHA are also used in combination for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Raynaud’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and bipolar disorder.

Eicosapentaenoic Acid

Effects: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a long-chain polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acid. Eicosapentaenoic acid, is not an essential fat in the human body; It can be synthesized from dietary alpha-linolenic acid. It is essential for many biochemical and metabolic functions in the body. Eicosapentaenoic acid has anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, triglyceride-lowering and immunomodulatory activities

Where Found: Fish oils and oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines

Symptoms: The human body can convert Alpha-linolenic acid to Eicosapentaenoic acid when a regular supply of alpha-linolenic essential fats is ensured. It is also a precursor to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Two of the most important omega-6 fatty acids are arachidonic acid (AA) and linoleic acid (LA). Omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role along with omega-3 in brain function, and normal growth and development. They help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system. However, some omega-6 fatty acids may promote inflammation. Elevated intake of omega-6 fatty acids may play a role in complex regional pain syndrome (4).

Food Sources: The average diet provides plenty of omega-6 fatty acids, so supplements are usually not necessary. Omega-6 can be obtained from sunflower, safflower, soy, sesame, and corn oils.

ACS DBS fatty acid test provides measurements of EPA, DHA, DHA, ALA, LA and AA. The report includes the omega-6/omega-3 ratio, and the EPA/AA ratio.

Arachidonic Acid

Effects: Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated omega 6 essential fatty acid. It is essential for many metabolic functions. Arachidonic acid is also involved in early neurological development.  It is an important component of human fat and is also found in abundance in the brain, liver, muscles and glandular tissue. Arachidonic acid is derived from dietary linoleic acid.

Where Found: Animal organs, poultry, eggs, meat and fish.

Symptoms:  Arachidonic acid is vital for the function of the nervous system. Like DHA, neurological health depends on optimum levels of arachidonic acid in the brain. It is involved in protecting the brain from oxidative stress. It is also involved in the growth and repair of neurons. Arachidonic acid deficiency has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease and bipolar disorder.

Linoleic Acid

Effects: Linoleic acid, or omega-6 fatty acid is part of cell components, and is used to manufacture signaling molecules in the body. Western diets contain too much linoleic acid. Current diets have an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of about 20:1, while optimal ratios should probably be closer to 1.5:1.

Where Found: Plant oils, including palm oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, corn oil and evening primrose oil

Symptoms: The human body is capable of producing all fatty acids needed, except for two: linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. These have to be consumed from the diet and are therefore termed “essential fatty acids”. Both of these fatty acids are needed for growth and repair, but can also be used to make other fatty acids (e.g. arachidonic acid formed from linoleic acid). These basic fats, found in plant foods, are used to build specialized fats called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega 3 to Omega 6 Fatty Acid Ratio

Omega 6: Omega-3 Ratio:  2-10; Target < 4:1

# this ratio strongly influences cardiovascular disease risk factors. The lower the omega-6 :omega-3 ratio, the more one’s health can benefit.

 

AA/EPA Fatty Acid Ratio

AA: EPA Ratio: 2-71; Target <9

#The AA: EPA ratio provides a more specific indicator of the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in circulation. A high AA:EPA ratio indicate a pro-inflammatory environment. A low AA:EPA ratio is associated with lower risk for major coronary events such as sudden cardiac death, myocardial infarction, etc.

References

 

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  8. Trumbo P, Schlicker S, Yates AA, Poos M; Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, The National Academies. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein and amino acids(2002). J Am Diet Assoc.;102(11):1621-1630
  9. Vincent, J. B. (2003). The potential value and toxicity of chromium Picolinate as a nutritional supplement, weight loss agent and muscle development agent. Sports Medicine, 33(3), 213–230. doi:10.2165/00007256-200333030-00004
  10. Broadhurst, C. L., & Domenico, P. (2006). Clinical studies on chromium Picolinate Supplementation in diabetes Mellitus—A review.Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics,8(6), 677–687. doi:10.1089/dia.2006.8.677
  11. Berner, T. O., Murphy, M. M., & Slesinski, R. (2004). Determining the safety of chromium tripicolinate for addition to foods as a nutrient supplement. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 42(6), 1029–1042. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2004.02.015