The micronutrient elements profile involves the measurement of Choline, Carnitine, α-Lipoic Acid, and Coenzyme Q10 in plasma. Micronutrients have a similar effect to vitamins, but because the body can synthesize them in small quantities, they are not considered essential in the absolute sense of the word. However, in order to maintain optimal levels in the organism, they must be taken by diet or in the form of supplements.
Who should test for Micronutrients?
- Those taking dietary supplements for preventive reasons, such as:
- Delayed aging
- Prevention of neurodegenerative diseases
- Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
- Those who suffer from a disease that may be due to a lack of micronutrients or those who suffer from a disease that may secondarily lead to a lack of them, such as:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Immune system disorders
- Male and female infertility
- Diabetes mellitus
- Those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins)
- Those at risk for micronutrient deficiencies, such as patients with:
- Gastrointestinal surgeries
- Celiac disease
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)
- Pregnancy and lactation
- Unbalanced diets and extreme diets
- Sports and intense physical exercise
More information on Micronutrients
Choline is a methyl donor and is involved in many physiological processes, including lipid metabolism and transport, methylation reactions, and neurotransmitter synthesis. Most of the body's choline is found in specialized fat molecules, known as phospholipids, the most common of which is phosphatidylcholine.
Choline deficiency causes muscle damage and abnormal fat deposition in the liver, which leads to a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Choline is involved in regulating the concentration of homocysteine in the blood through its metabolite betaine. The need for choline probably increases during pregnancy. Choline is essential for the optimal development of the brain in the fetus and affects cognitive function in later life.
The choline synthesis in humans is not enough to meet the metabolic needs of the body. Good dietary sources of choline are eggs, meat, poultry, fish, green leafy vegetables, peanuts, and dairy products.
L-carnitine can be synthesized from the amino acids lysine and methionine. L-carnitine is mainly synthesized in the liver but also in the kidneys. L-carnitine plays an important role in the production of energy by coupling fatty acids and transporting them to the mitochondria. Carnitine deficiency can result from either inherited or acquired conditions. Inherited causes include genetic abnormalities in amino acid degradation and lipid metabolism.
The endogenous biosynthesis of L-carnitine is catalyzed by the coordinated action of five different enzymes. This process requires two basic amino acids (lysine and methionine), iron (Fe2+), vitamin B6, vitamin B3 (niacin), and also vitamin C. One of the first symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, fatigue, is thought to be associated with reduced L-carnitine synthesis.
Meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products are the richest sources of L-carnitine, while fruits, vegetables, and cereals contain relatively small amounts of L-carnitine.
Coenzyme Q10 is essential for ATP synthesis in mitochondria and acts as an antioxidant for cell membranes and lipoproteins. Coenzyme Q10 levels gradually decrease with age, and decreased levels have been found in patients with diabetes, cancer, and congestive heart failure. Taking lipid-lowering drugs that inhibit the activity of HMG-CoA reductase (statins) causes a decrease in plasma coenzyme Q10.
The coenzyme Q10 biosynthesis starts from the amino acid tyrosine or phenylalanine. The first step in coenzyme Q10 biosynthesis requires a sufficient amount of vitamin B6.
Rich sources of dietary coenzyme Q10 are mainly found in meat, poultry, and fish. Other relatively rich sources of coenzyme Q10 include soy, rapeseed, and walnuts. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, and dairy products are moderate sources of coenzyme Q10. About 1/3 of the amount of coenzyme Q10 is destroyed during the frying of food, while boiling does not affect it.
Αlpha-Lipoic Acid is a cofactor for several mitochondrial enzymes that catalyze critical reactions in energy production and catabolism (breakdown) of alpha-keto acids and amino acids. α-Lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. Reactive oxygen (ROS) and nitrogen (RNS) species are highly active compounds that have the potential to damage DNA, proteins, and lipids in cell membranes.
Another very important function is the regeneration of other antioxidants: When an antioxidant removes a free radical, it oxidizes and is unable to neutralize additional ROS or RNS until it is reduced. Αlpha-Lipoic acid is a potent reducing agent with the ability to regenerate oxidized forms of several important antioxidants, including vitamin C, glutathione, α-tocopherol (vitamin E) and coenzyme Q10, an important component of the mitochondrial electron transport chain.