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  • Writer's pictureHeather Horst

Nutrient Testing

"Metabolism happens WITHIN the cells. Serum nutrient measurement is only a "SNAPSHOT" of nutrient status. Cellular activity gives insight into LONG TERM nutrient status." - CellScience 2022

I recommend cell-based, functional nutrient testing from CellScience Systems. This lets me customize a nutritional plan for each patient, based on the activity of YOUR cells. This lab test contains 3 parts: a Cellular Micronutrient Assay, Redox Score, and Antioxidant Panel.

CMA (Cellular Micronutrient Assay)

A micronutrient is a vitamin, mineral, or amino acid - micro because they're smaller molecules than the proteins, carbohydrates and fats we use for calories. The CMA measures whether a patient has a deficiency in specific micronutrients, using their live blood cells and serum.

Blood is composed of serum (the liquid part) and blood cells (both red & white.) CellScience examines the effect of specific micronutrients on the ability of white blood cells to reproduce. First they measure the rate of a patient's cell growth in their own serum (along with a mitogen - a chemical that stimulates cell growth), to get a baseline. Then they add each micronutrient separately to compare growth rates. If the cells grow faster when offered a supplemental nutrient, we can assume that the whole patient will also thrive with more of that nutrient.

Other nutrition tests only measure how much of each nutrient is dissolved in the serum. Serum levels can be thought of as a snapshot - does the patient have enough of each nutrient this morning? Functional testing observes how cells behave in the presence or absence of each nutrient. This gives a sense of nutrient sufficiency over a 3-6 month period - the average lifespan of a white blood cell. This longer view more accurately represents a patient's long term dietary habits, and whether they are getting the nutrition they need.


Redox is a measurement of oxidative stress. When a bicycle oxidizes, it rusts. When cooking oil oxidizes, it goes rancid. When human cells oxidize, we see chronic illness and increased inflammation.

In the Redox test, white blood cells are grown in their own serum without any external nutrients added. Increasing amounts of peroxide (the liquid form of oxygen) are added to the serum. The cells' ability to resist oxidative damage from the peroxide is measured. Increasing levels of peroxide will diminish cells' growth rates. If the cells have an excellent antioxidant function, the growth rate will drop a little. If the cells have poor antioxidant function, their growth rate drops more. Each patient's growth rate is compared to the average population, yielding your redox score.

Antioxidant Protection Assay (APA)

Once you know whether you're happy with your redox score, you may wish to use the right antioxidants to improve your resistance to oxidative stress. Antioxidants interact with peroxide and other free radicals to prevent cell damage.

In the APA, single antioxidants are added to the mixture of the patient's cells, serum, and peroxide, to observe which ones improve their redox function. Then the patient can prioritize the antioxidants which best benefit their body at the cellular level.

The following is a list of the nutrients and antioxidants tested in the CellScience panel:

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