Scottish Trace Element & Micronutrient Reference Laboratory

Scotland's specialised laboratory for trace elements and vitamins in health and disease

Micronutrient Screen

A general screen of micronutrients may be of clinical value in the management of patients with potential nutritional deficiency such as patients with Crohn’s Disease and other malabsorptive conditions, patients on total parenteral nutrition, and individuals whose nutrition may be inadequate such as the elderly.

The constituent parts of a micronutrient screen are selenium, copper, zinc, and vitamins A, C, & E (also includes vitamins D and K in Scotland) in plasma; manganese and vitamin B1 in whole blood; and selenium and vitamins B2, and B6 in red cells.

Sample Requirements for Micronutrient Screen

Samples One whole blood and one plasma/serum. Patient should be fasting and blood taken at least 8 hours post supplementation.
Container Whole blood: Lithium heparin (non-gel) or EDTA (if suitable for trace elements).
Plasma/serum:  Suitable for trace elements. SST/EDTA/Lithium heparin gel unsuitable.

Send one whole blood sample and plasma/serum from the other whole blood (to arrive within 72 hours of collection).

NB. If vitamin C is required a stabilised plasma sample is required (see details here).
NB. The tube for preparation of plasma should be suitable for trace elements.
NB. Vitamins A and E are light-sensitive. Wrap whole blood tube in tin foil.
NB. Zinc leaks from red cells so plasma/serum should be separated as soon as possible (cut-off: 4 hours; or within 24 hours if refrigerated).
NB. Vitamin D sample needs to be separated (The separated zinc sample is suitable for vitamin D.)
NB. If delivery to Glasgow is outwith 72 hours of sample collection, prepare red cells for vitamin B2 and B6 and selenium (minimum volume 600 µL) removing plasma and buffy layer (mark clearly on tube that they are red cells) and store frozen. Also freeze an aliquot of whole blood and a plasma/serum sample until sending. Send by first class post (not on ice or dry ice).

Minimum volume* 5 mL* whole blood
2 mL* plasma
650 µL* stabilised plasma for vitamin C
Reference ranges See details in specific micronutrient pages.
Mean turnaround time 4.5 days
Method Vitamins by HPLC with UV, fluorimetric or electrochemical detection (except vitamin D which is measured by immunoassay).
Copper, zinc, selenium and manganese by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.

* Absolute minimum volume; this volume is insufficient to carry out repeat analysis if analysis fails.

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