Laboratory testing can be a helpful tool to discover underlying causes of health concerns!
Are you getting enough nutrients?
Here's a quick review of some helpful tests I frequently run with patients - and what they can tell you.
Vitamin D - this is one of the few nutrients where I see frank deficiency often - in nearly 50% of the tests I run. You may think this means you can just supplement without testing. You can, but you may need to dig deeper or dose differently depending on how deficient you are and why! There's good research connecting low vitamin D to so many conditions - from fibroids to autoimmunity, PCOS, diabetes, cancer, asthma, menopause, worse Covid outcomes and depression! We test your levels, then consider causes, address the deficiency while also looking into related nutrients and ways to stop the cycle of depletion! [More]
Zinc (usually with copper) - I often run this test for brain-related issues, anxiety, acne, picky eaters, chronic diarrhea, fatty liver/difficulty digesting fats and other gut issues and in pregnancy. Sufficiency is also important for immune health.
Iron (TIBC, CBC, ferritin, total protein and thyroid) - so many of you come to me with a history of having had "low iron" in the past. While ferritin can sometimes function as a marker of your iron stores, it is quite often elevated due to other underlying inflammation. The CBC (complete blood count), while a helpful marker of full iron deficiency anemia, doesn't catch early depletions, though it gives a lot of helpful information about immune function. So I love adding the TIBC (Total iron binding capacity) which can give a bit more information about iron. If you've tried supplementing with iron without success, then it's important to consider underlying infections which may be "using" your iron and causing the anemia. Protein deficiency can mimic iron deficiency. And thyroid deficiency can be at the root of iron issues, so is also important to test.
B-vitamins (B6, B12, folate) - these I often recommend testing as part of a "methylation panel" that uses homocysteine as a more sensitive marker of deficiency - and includes complimentary measures of serum B12 and folate. Important to run the panel if you have blood sugar issues (insulin resistance), family history of cardiovascular disease/strokes, high stress, depression or neurologic conditions in yourself or your family (ie. MS, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease)
Omega-3 - we all know omega-3s are supposed to be good, but are you getting enough and absorbing yours? Sometimes we start with a diet assessment, other times a test can be really helpful!
Comprehensive lab tests to know about:
Metabolomix+ by Genova: a really great comprehensive nutrient assessment - and a great gift for the person who really wants to take advantage of preventive medicine to optimize their health. Assesses B-vitamins, zinc, fatty acids (ie. omega 3 ratios), antioxidants (low levels are linked to various disease and inflammation) and even some gut health markers. [Sample report]
Stool testing (GI-360 or GI-MAP): more than what you might do at your doctor's office. Very useful assessment of DNA and culture to look not only for pathogens but for presence of healthy, commensal bacteria, and assess inflammation. If you have any condition with chronic inflammation, or chronic low iron, this can be a very helpful tool - and of course with unresolving gut issues! [Sample report]
Food Sensitivity Testing: not just for irritable bowels - I often discuss the importance of taking out trigger foods, but if you don't have the time (or motivation) to eliminate a bunch of foods and reintroduce them, this handy tool can help you target your most likely triggers and carefully curate a food elimination that is limited and easier to commit to with data behind it! In addition to gas/bloating/heartburn/bowel irregularity, consider this test if chronic sinus issues, eczema, acne, depression, autoimmunity, diabetes, fatigue and headaches. [Sample report]
As always, none of the information provided here is to be considered medical advice. Please discuss lab testing options with your medical provider who offers these - all of the above lab tests are available through your naturopathic doctor - and some may also be available with your medical doctor. Naturopathic lab testing is not covered by OHIP but many insurance providers offer coverage for tests ordered by your naturopathic doctor. Please book an appointment to learn more about whether these tests would be useful for you!