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Woman jogging for exercise after blood and genetic testing for weight management

New Tests to Guide Your Health Plans

Scott Fogle, ND, discusses blood tests for toxic metals, and two different genetic tests—one test uses nutrigenomics to assist with weight management goals, and the other offers nutritional recommendations based on your DNA.

Scientifically reviewed by Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on April 2022. Written By Laurie Mathena.

New lab tests can help determine if we need to increase intake of specific compounds and whether certain diets might be best for our bodies.

In this interview, Dr. Scott Fogle, ND, discusses testing for heavy metals, along with genetic testing that can assist with weight management and nutrient intake.

LE: What new tests are coming out for this year’s annual lab test sale?

Dr. Fogle: We have three exciting new tests. One looks at toxic metals and nutritional minerals. The other two are innovative genetic tests that can reveal beneficial data about yourself that you may not have known.

Researcher holding rock and vial to test for toxic metals in the environment

LE: Is it important to test for toxic metals?

Dr. Fogle: Yes, very. Our world is increasingly toxic, and toxic metals are some of the worst offenders when it comes to affecting your body in slow, insidious ways. These toxins build up in the body easily and affect different tissues, organs, metabolic enzymes, and more.

LE: Are certain metals more of a problem than others?

Dr. Fogle: Arsenic, lead, and mercury are some of the most toxic, and they are far too common. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry creates a Substance Priority List that is updated every few years. The top three items on their most recent list of 275 toxic substances are arsenic, lead, and mercury, in that order. This list is based on a combination of the toxins’ frequency, toxicity, and potential for human exposure.

Given their toxicity and that you may be exposed and not know it, it makes sense to check your levels periodically. The Blood Metals Panel Blood Spot Test Kit tests for all three.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 2019 Substance Priority List

2019 Rank

Substance Name

1

ARSENIC

2

LEAD

3

MERCURY

Source: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/SPL/

LE: Why is arsenic number one on the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry list?

Dr. Fogle: It is highly toxic in its inorganic form and quickly deposits in the liver, kidney, spleen, skin, bone, and muscle. It is found in some water sources and irrigation water used for food crops. Other sources are smoking tobacco, rodent poison, contaminated shellfish, treated lumber for outdoor use, fungicides, pesticides, fireworks, and leather tanning.

LE: What other toxic metals does the test include?

Dr. Fogle: It looks for two other problematic metals, cadmium and antimony. Inhalation of cigarette smoke is a major source of cadmium exposure. It is also found in some metal hardware like nuts and bolts, batteries, paints, and other common industrial and household sources. Following exposure, cadmium concentrates in the liver, kidneys, and other tissues. It is thought to exert toxicity by disrupting zinc activity and has a very slow elimination rate from the body.

Antimony is a toxic element widely used in metal alloys found in industrial and household products. It likely interferes with cellular metabolism and accumulates in the liver.

LE: You mentioned that this test also checks levels of nutritional minerals?

Dr. Fogle: It does, and that’s one of the reasons I like this test so much. Not only do you get five toxic metals checked, but it also tests three minerals that support detox, immune health, tissue healing, and tissue integrity. Those are zinc, selenium and copper.

With a lot of people taking zinc to support a healthy immune system nowadays, it is a good idea to check its level and to make sure zinc is not getting out of balance with copper. This test provides a helpful copper-to-zinc ratio.

Selenium is such an important mineral, and one of its abilities is to generate one of the most powerful detoxifiers the body has, glutathione. This detoxifier is like a bodyguard against toxins, binding to them and escorting them out of the body. Mercury is so toxic that it takes two glutathione molecules to escort a single mercury molecule out of the body. And selenium appears to protect other tissues from mercury and arsenic as well, by increasing excretion and inhibiting mercury accumulation.

LE: Mercury can be found in multiple forms. Which form does this test measure?

Dr. Fogle: This test checks the very toxic methylmercury form. Because of our polluted oceans and waterways, mercury is now found in many sea mammals and fish. The fish typically highest in mercury are swordfish, shark, tilefish, king mackerel, bigeye tuna, marlin, orange roughy, and Chilean sea bass.

LE: Does having more than one toxic metal present raise additional concerns?

Dr. Fogle: Unfortunately, yes. When added together, problems from toxic metals are exponentially worse due to the way these metals interact with each other. It’s like a gang of bad guys creating havoc, as opposed to just one bad guy. People with high levels of several toxic metals should seek out a doctor with expertise in toxic metals since detoxing multiple metals can be challenging and stressful on the body.

LE: Is this a blood test or urine test?

Dr. Fogle: It is a home finger-stick blood test kit. It is convenient, quick, and easy, and you don’t have to leave the house to do it.

LE: Can this test tell you whether you were recently exposed to toxic metals?

Dr. Fogle: It can. Circulating metals in the blood reflect recent exposure. Checking blood levels is looking at what you have been exposed to more recently.

LE: You mentioned two genetic tests that are being introduced. Can you tell us about those?

Dr. Fogle: One is very broad in scope, and one focuses on weight management. These tests use your genes to help predict what will likely be the most beneficial changes for you to make. They help suggest specific nutritional needs, laboratory recommendations, lifestyle recommendations, and even health precautions, such as avoiding gluten, all based on your individual DNA findings.

LE: How does the weight management test work?

Dr. Fogle: The NutriGen™ Genetic Weight Management Panel is a personalized genetic test for diet, wellness, and weight loss. Using nutrigenomics, it helps identify if genetic coding may be interfering with your weight management goals and provides insight into which dietary choices will have the most health benefits. It is the most complete nutrigenomic analysis on the market related to weight loss, response to exercise, food intolerances, nutritional needs, and more.

LE: What does the term nutrigenomics mean?

Dr. Fogle: It is the study of the complex interaction of nutrition and your genes, especially in relation to prevention and wellness. The genetic variations analyzed with this weight management panel are associated with 15 health and weight management categories: behavioral genetics in food intake, efficacy of exercise, flavor sensitivities, detoxification imbalances, supplementation intolerances, vitamin deficiency risk, matching your diet type, body shape genetics in overweight predisposition, inflammation, hormones, and metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, lipids, and glucose.

LE: How much do genes affect a person’s weight?

Dr. Fogle: Genetic factors determine between 40%-70% of an individual’s weight.

LE: Can the genetic weight management panel indicate which diet might work best for someone?

Dr. Fogle: Yes. Not everyone should be on the same type of diet. This test uses your genes to reveal the efficiency of the main diet types, such as a low-carb diet, low-calorie diet, and low-fat diet. These genetic differences are why people are constantly trying different ones to see which works best. Now, instead of trial and error, you can use your own genes to show you which diet is best to help you shed those extra pounds.

This test goes beyond suggesting a diet type. It generates a specific dietary plan from over 850 foods and suggests a daily calorie intake customized to you. It even provides a custom three-phase supplement plan based on your individual genetic profile and health concerns.

LE: That means it looks at vitamin and mineral needs in relation to weight management?

Dr. Fogle: Yes, it assesses your genetic need for vitamins A, B6, folate, B12, C, D, and E. It also looks at calcium malabsorption risk, iron overload and low iron risk, dysregulated magnesium and selenium levels, and sodium sensitivity.

LE: What can you tell us about the second genetic test?

Dr. Fogle: The Pro7 Advanced Nutrigenomic Panel analyzes your genetics in seven key areas of health: methylation, neurotransmitter production, mitochondrial function, detoxification, neuroinflammation, inflammation due to environmental and dietary factors, and health precautions. It examines an amazingly wide range of your genetic code, then provides you with genetically targeted nutritional suggestions. Why guess when your genes can show you where and what to focus on?

Mature woman riding on bike who took genetic testing for targeted nutrition suggestions

LE: This panel clearly covers a lot of genetic testing. Won’t that make it too expensive for most people?

Dr. Fogle: Years ago, this test would have been in the $3,000-$5,000 range. Fortunately for everyone, genetic testing has come down significantly in price, making this information more accessible than ever. By partnering with a premier genetic testing company, we are able to offer this panel for $299 (and 25% off this price during the annual lab sale).

LE: Can you discuss some of the specific areas this nutrigenomic panel analyzes?

Dr. Fogle: It looks at methylation, a process that needs to work properly to maintain our overall health and the health of our DNA. This test examines common gene variants which would indicate higher need for methylfolate and methylcobalamin (vitamin B12).

It also looks at supplements needed for proper neurotransmitter production, like B6, taurine, glycine, and methionine, and examines common variants in genes which are involved in the production, conversion, and breakdown of neurotransmitters.

LE: What about mitochondrial dysfunction, which is closely tied to aging and disease?

Dr. Fogle: Nutrients needed for mitochondrial and electron transport-chain function, like coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), carnitine, and magnesium, are evaluated. So are nutrients needed for detoxification, including N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), glutathione, lipoic acid, and antioxidants.

Detoxification is important for mitochondrial health because toxins target our mitochondria and nerve tissue first. The reason is that both lack the ability to protect and detoxify themselves. They are reliant on the overall detox capacity of the body to keep them healthy. If you aren’t taking in enough nutrients, toxins can overwhelm your mitochondria and nerve tissue and cause problems that will later manifest as disease and accelerated aging.

LE: You mentioned the vulnerability of nerve cells. Does this genetic test assess potential risk of inflammation of our nervous system and brain?

Dr. Fogle: Yes, genetic potential for neuroinflammation is assessed, along with supportive nutrients like curcumin, omegas, resveratrol, and quercetin. These nutrients are recommended for many people, but if you have a higher genetic potential for neuroinflammation, you should consider higher than standard dosing.

LE: More and more people are concerned about gluten and having too much histamine in their bodies. Are these areas also addressed with this test?

Dr. Fogle: Environmental and dietary inflammation risks like gluten sensitivity, ability to break down histamine, need for prebiotics and vitamins D and K, and expected benefits from curcumin are assessed. So are health precautions like risk from salt retention, concerning estrogen metabolites, and even hypothyroid risk. It is one of the most comprehensive genetic tests we have ever seen.

Lab technician putting sample of a genetic test for health precautions

LE: Are these genetic tests also blood tests?

Dr. Fogle: No, these are simple at-home cheek swab tests which collect cells for DNA extraction. I hope people take advantage of these and the toxic metals test to take their health and wellness plans to the next level.

At Life Extension we have long advocated annual laboratory testing as one of the most important ways to optimize and maintain health.

These new diagnostic offerings from Life Extension, provide unique information on your personal health assessment.

Our Lab Test Super Sale starts on March 21, 2022 and ends on July 11, 2022.

Dr. Scott Fogle is the Executive Director of Clinical Information and Laboratory Services at Life Extension, where he oversees scientific and medical information as well as its laboratory division.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.