If you want to achieve optimal health, you have to address the underlying cause. There are many factors that can contribute to depression such as, diet and/or nutrient deficiencies, allergies or sensitivities, toxicities, and emotional stress.

Due to advances in laboratory testing methods we are able to test for many potential causes of depression. I do quite a bit of testing with Metametrix. Metametrix (www.metametrix.com) Clinical Laboratory offers many profiles such as, organic acid testing, nutritional and heavy metal testing, food sensitivity testing, adrenal stress testing, and endocrine testing just to name a few.

Unlike amino acids and fatty acids, organic acids contain no essential nutrients. Instead of directly measuring nutrient concentrations, abnormal concentrations of organic acids provide functional markers for the metabolic effects of micronutrient inadequacies, toxic exposure, neuroendocrine activity, and bacterial overgrowth. Organic acid testing can indicate the functional need for essential or conditionally essential nutrients, diet modification, antioxidant protection, detoxification and other therapies. For example, Vitamin B6 deficiencies affect the metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids. This can cause a decrease in neurotransmitter metabolism leading to irritability, depression, and confusion. From a single urine specimen, we can obtain important information for treating anxiety, attention and mood disorders, depression, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain, etc.

In addition, research has revealed the long-term health benefits of consumption of fish oils and/or GLA-rich oils on mental and neurological health as well as just about everything else. Fatty acids are the fats we obtain from our diet. They may be monounsaturated, polyunsaturated or saturated. Fatty acids are found in oils and other fats that make up different foods. Fat is necessary for cell membranes, nerve coverings, hormone production, vitamin absorption and more. Most of us get a lot of fat in our diet, but it usually is not the type of fat we should be getting.

The Metametrix Fatty Acid Profile shows the balance of fats and metabolites in plasma. Your overall balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats is represented by measurement of acid ratios. Balanced fatty acid levels are essential for optimal health. Fatty acid profiles are also an ideal way to track progress or response to a treatment, show varying patterns identifying essential fatty acid excess or deficiency, signs of insulin resistance, elevated level of triglycerides (fatty acids compounds), pro-inflammation or omega-3 dominance.

Nutrient and toxic metal testing is also something to consider. Erythrocyte and whole blood toxic metal levels are good indicators of body pools of essential elements and toxic elements. Elements often referred to as minerals, nutrient elements are fundamental to every function in the body. They help to build bone and aid in the function of nerve impulses and enzymes. Since the body cannot manufacture the elements—and daily losses are unavoidable—the nutrient elements are all “essential” and must be regularly taken in through diet or supplements. For example, a toxicity of calcium and potassium can cause depression as well as deficiency in iron and magnesium. Mercury intoxification can produce depression, short term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, etc.

There are many things to think about what can be causing symptoms of depression. There are many alternatives to consider. If you are interested in more information about lab testing on nutritional supplements, schedule an appointment or ask us at your next visit.

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Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine/Richard S. Lord and J. Alexander Bralley

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