Personalised nutrition test aims to fill gaps that impair athletic gains

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/Olga Reukova
©iStock/Olga Reukova

Related tags: Nutrition

A blood test and food questionnaire form the basis of a simple personalised nutrition approach, which can identify micronutrient and vitamin deficiencies that can prevent optimum athletic performance.

Dubbed the NutriProfiel​, the system claims to offer specific reasons linking folic acid and vitamin B6, B12 and D levels to dietary habits for everyone from regular people to professional athletes.

“This extra information about the deficiency can provide valuable extra information for both sports doctors and regular doctors in determining the right course of subsequent action,”​ said Michiel Balvers, laboratory research associate for both Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Gelderland Valley Hospital (GVH).

“Deficiencies can also be caused by insufficient levels of nutrients in your diet, in which case you should investigate why this is so.”

NutriProfiel is said to have particular relevancy to the sports nutrition arena in which the link to micronutrient deficiencies and athletic performance are only starting to be realised.

Vitamin deficiencies

The Healthcare Nutrition Alliance​, an initiative formed between WUR and GVH, are especially sensitive to athletes’ needs as well as give advice to regular consumers.

For example, fruit and yoghurt—food popular with sportsmen and women—are now being added to the questionnaire as a way of gaining more insight into the foods’ links to  red blood cell production, in which B vitamins play a vital role.

Red blood cell numbers largely determine how well oxygen is absorbed in the lungs, thus it makes sense athletes should eat more foods that promote their production.

Likewise, blood tests can show excessive levels of vitamins or even overdoses. “It’s not always intentional,”​ explains Balvers. “Sometimes supplements contain a higher dose of vitamins than is stated on the label.”

Earlier this month, Polish trading standards authority uncovered labelling irregularities​ that include a lack of ingredient information, daily dosage and warnings.

The audit found in nine of the 79 supplement samples tested in the laboratory the manufacturers overstated the vitamin and mineral content and understated the salt content.

The Dutch Consumer Association also published a similar study (in Dutch)​ in which measured quantities of active ingredients differed to those stated on the label.

How NutriProfiel works

The NutriProfiel model’s main advantage is its automated approach. The questionnaire is completed online and the NutriProfiel advice is provided to the doctor through the standard electronic channels (‘EPD/HIS’).

NutriProfiel is currently available for patients of GVH based in Ede as well as patients of local doctors that go to the hospital for laboratory diagnosis.

Currently offered as an additional service, NutriProfiel vitamin tests can be carried out at the regular cost of a blood test without seeing a doctor.

NutriProfiel test results are automatically saved in the electronic patient file.

In addition to patient care, the NutriProfiel personal dietary advice is also offered to others who are interested in their micronutrient status and nutrition.

“Based on these outcomes, Nutriprofiel  findings may encourage patients to improve the diet, or provide suggestions to the physician for other (medical) causes that may have caused a deficiency, such as use of certain medication,”​ the Healthcare Nutrition Alliance added.

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