Over the years, many tests have been developed to access the nutrient levels in blood, saliva, urine and hair. Nutritionists and other health care professionals use these tests to gather information for diagnosis and treatment purposes. Testing is important; particularly to look for nutrient deficiencies and to make sure nutrient levels are not too high. Tests that are useful in the treatment of mental health include the following.
Food intolerance tests. Food allergies and intolerances have been linked to a variety of mental illnesses, including autism, ADHD, and schizophrenia. After determining the offending foods, specific diet modifications are made and health is restored. The most common tests for food allergies are a histamine level test and the Food Allergy and Chemical Sensitivity/Intolerance Test (ALCAT).
Homocysteine level tests. Homocysteine, a harmful amino acid, has been associated with depression, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and anxiety disorders. The regulation and lowering of homocysteine levels can attenuate these problems.
Heavy metal level tests. Heavy metals have been implicated in a variety of neurodegenerative mental illnesses, including autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Once heavy metals are identified, a treatment plan to eliminate them can be developed and implemented.
Amino acid analysis tests. Amino acids are compounds that combine to form protein. When proteins are digested, amino acids are left behind. These are the raw materials used to make neurotransmitters and other substances. Amino acid analysis examines the levels of approximately 40 different amino acids within the body. Results and subsequent treatment can help depression, chronic fatigue, and learning disabilities.
Miscellaneous tests. There are other tests that a nutritionist may recommend depending on a patient’s needs, such as:
- Comprehensive parasitology profile
- Adrenal stress profile
- Osteoporosis risk assessment
- Bone mineral density test
- Menopause profile
- Breast cancer risk profile
- Lactose intolerance profile
- Female hormone profile
When having any type of testing done, whether for nutritional evaluation or other purposes, the results are only as sound as the person interpreting them. Moreover, the health care professional who develops a treatment plan should have the skill set to be able to diagnosis and treat the problem.