Chris Masterjohn, PhD shared about What Makes a Good Marker of Nutritional Status.
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Chris Masterjohn, PhD shared about What Makes a Good Marker of Nutritional Status.

In this special interlude, I lay down the framework of the five core principles that make a good marker of nutritional status. This is to lay down the framework for a series of podcasts in the future about managing nutritional status for specific vitamins and minerals.

Since these core principles will be referred back to as a general reference in so many other episodes, this one has a special place outside of the sequence and you can reach it at any time with the easy-to-remember URL

The episodes of the series are kept below, in the episode list.

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This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. I use their liverwurst as a convenient way to make a sustainable habit of eating a diversity of organ meats. They also have a milder braunschweiger and an even milder head cheese that gives you similar benefits, as well as a wide array of other meat products, all from animals raised on pasture. Head to and enter promo code “Chris” at checkout to get a 15% discount on any order that is at least 7 pounds and is at least $75 after applying the discount but under 40 pounds (it can be 39.99 lbs, but not 40). You can use this discount code not once, but twice!

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Show Notes for “What Makes a Good Marker of Nutritional Status?”

In this episode, you'll find all of the following and more:

37:23  Cliff Notes
09:25  Purpose of this podcast and its place in the upcoming series on managing nutritional status
11:54   What are the core principles?
12:05  Principle #1: We understand its biochemistry and physiology.
15:04  Principle #2: It has been validated against changes in nutritional status.
17:17   Principle #3: Sensitivity
17:52  Principle #4 Specificity
19:45  Principle #5: It must be interpreted in the overall context of other markers and the clinical and health history, current signs and symptoms, and diet and lifestyle analysis.
23:20  Example of principle #1: Spectracell vs dp-ucMGP as tests of vitamin K2 status.
27:20  Example of principle #2: 25(OH)D vs. calcitriol
29:20  Example of principle #3: transferrin saturation vs. ferritin
31:08  Example of principle #4: specificity of 25(OH)D and contexts where its specificity fails
32:50  Example of principle #5: distinguishing between calcium and vitamin D deficiencies as causes of 25(OH)D by testing PTH, calcitriol, and analyzing the diet and lifestyle
37:50  Shotgun approaches to nutritional testing
40:30 Whether to act on leads from shotgun approaches should depend on the risks and other costs of the actions.

Episodes of the Managing Nutritional Status Series

If you would like to receive a notification each time a new episode is added to this list, you can sign up for notifications here. Here are the existing episodes:

What Makes a Good Marker of Nutritional Status?

Balancing Calcium and Phosphorus in the Diet, and the Importance of Measuring Parathyroid Hormone (PTH).

Why You Should Manage Your Glutathione Status and How to Do It

Why You Need to Manage Your Iron Status and How to Do It

Why You Should Manage Your Copper Status and How to Do It

Why You Should Manage Your Selenium Status and How to Do It

Why You Should Manage Your Zinc Status and How to Do It

Why You Should Manage Your Thiamin Status and How To Do It

Why You Should Manage Your Riboflavin Status and How to Do It

Niacin, Part 1: What It Is and Why You Need It

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  1. Chris Kresser has several labs he uses, do you have any thoughts on any of them?

    Gut /SIBO:
    Genetic-analysis dysbiosis test from Switzerland.
    Doctor’s Data Comprehensive Stool Analysis with three samples
    Genova/Metametrix’s Organix Comprehensive Profile and SIBO Breath Test
    Great Plains Laboratory’s Urine Organic Acids Test from

    BioHealth #201 – Functional Adrenal Stress Profile
    Genova Complete Hormones 24 Hour Urine Test
    Precision Analytical DUTCH urine test

    Methylation :
    Health Diagnostics and Research Institute (HDRI)

    Cyrex Array Panels 2 (leaky gut), 3 (Gluten), 5 , 7, 10 for food sensitivities

    Nutrient Status:
    Metametrix’s ION

    Heavy Metal Status:
    Dr. Chris Shade’s Quicksilver Scientific

    DNA Analysis of 23andme data (MTHFR , PEMT, GAMT, etc):
    Rhonda Patrick / Ben Lynch’s Found My Fitness Genetic Report

  2. Hey Chris,

    Really excited to hear your input in this area.

    Someone sent me one of those spectracell panels with no other lab work. The assay you describe in this episode. Was interesting to look at and see if anything fit with the individual’s story. But in the end we just sort of shrugged.

    If it isn’t already on your list, how about means for assessing appropriate balance of fatty acids? And whether or not it even matters.

  3. For Coronary Artery Disease, Functional Medicine Doctors say the “gold standard” is a Cardiac Calcium Score to manage treatment of the disease. In talking with a couple lab doctors in charge with reading and reporting CAC scoring, they say the test should only be taken every 2 to 3 years, and the ACC/AHA Guideline says to only take the test once in a lifetime. This timing is hardly useful to manage heart treatment therapies.
    In addition, research(1) indicated a one year change is not suitable for determination of CAD therapy. Other research papers indicated a wide variation, greater than 30%, with regard to repeatability and accuracy for readings above 100 to a 1,000+. I question if this test is the best one for measuring coronary calcium deposit and using the results to assess CAD treatment therapies?

    (1) Annual Progression of Coronary Calcification in Trials of Preventive Therapies, by P.A. McCullough, MD, et al.

    1. Women predominantly suffer from coronary microvascular dysfunction and go undiagnosed and untreated, for focus is mostly on coronary artery disease. 60,000 more women than man die yearly because of that. This is called cardiac syndrome X.

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