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Anxiety: Clues from an Organic Acid Test (OAT).

An Organic Acid Test (OAT) measures by-products of cellular metabolism in a urine sample. These metabolites give us an insight into different processes in our body. These metabolites can give us an indication of levels of gut bacteria, yeasts, effectiveness of mitochondrial function, detoxification, levels of oxalates and some neurotransmitter levels too.

The Organic Acid Test can help identify factors influencing anxiety. For example, an OAT test will look at the metabolites of serotonin production, giving you a snapshot of your levels to see if this could be contributing to anxiety or mood issues. Low serotonin can typically present itself as anxiety. 

When levels are low you can achieve some symptom relief through using amino acid therapy. It is ideal to address the underlying issues leading to low serotonin as well. This can be related to a number of nutrient deficiencies or imbalances including omega 3, zinc and B6.

An OAT will also give information on B vitamin levels. The B12 metabolite – methylmalonic acid is a more useful indicator of B12 levels than blood levels. B12 deficiency has been indicated in a number of mental health issues including anxiety and mood disorders. B6 is also measured and this can play a critical role in the development of anxiety related disorders. 

A child struggling with the transition to secondary school ran an OAT test (this is a particularly good test for children as gathering a urine sample is much easier than a blood sample). His results showed low B6, vitamin C and low B12. His gut bacteria were unbalanced (the test indicated high clostridia-type bacteria) and he had yeast overgrowth too. Given his current circumstances (of trying to adapt to secondary school life) it wasn’t a good time to make any huge changes to his gut bacteria but we were able to support him with B vitamins and adrenal support. We added in some vitamin C too as this is particularly supportive when dealing with stress. This gentle support enabled this child to function better within his new environment. At a later date we put in some gentle gut support to lessen the impact his gut bacteria may have on his tendency to anxiety. 

Purchase an Organic Acid Test here.

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Author: Sarah Hanratty

Sarah is a specialist practitioner at the Brain Food Clinic. She has a degree in Nutritional Medicine and is a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner. Sarah helps people to overcome physical and mental health issues using bespoke nutritional protocols.

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